Sunday 14th October 2012 – My God, my God why have you forsaken me?

The Word This Week:

Job 23:1-9, 16-17
and Psalm 22:1-15 OR
Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
and Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-16

Mark 10:17-31

Thoughts on the Word:

This week I want us to do something a little different.  I am not going to preach on the Gospel reading this week – though what I want us to do is Gospel focussed.  This week I want us to take our time and read through the Psalm.  Psalm 22 is for me on of the most beautiful, and yet horrible pieces of scripture there is.  It is beautiful in that it is a piece of prophecy written hundreds of years before Jesus, which foretells his sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of the world.  It is horrible for the same reason.

What I am going to do is post the Psalm in its entirety below (our reading for this week is supposed to only be the first 15 verses, but I want us to reflect on this as a whole.).  Next to it I will provide some other scriptural references for us to ponder as we read the Psalm.  What I hope is that we gain an insight into the mind of our saviour, into his suffering and into his joy, and that we also begin to understand fully that our salvation through the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross was a part of the plan from the very beginning.

Take your time with this, and remember that the Psalm was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born – and yet God’s plan for salvation is evident even then.   Please let me know if this is as helpful and enlightening for you in your faith journey as it was for me the first time I put these pieces together.  You can comment on this post or via our facebook page.

I pray that the Lord will richly bless you and yours this week.


**Sadly the formatting doesn’t carry through properly on mobile devices – this is supposed to be a side by side comparison so if you can view it on a PC screen I encourage you to do so!

Psalm 22

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
   and by night, but find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy,
   enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our ancestors trusted;
   they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried, and were saved;
   in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm, and not human;
   scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock at me;
   they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8 ‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver–
   let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’

9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
   you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
   and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
   for trouble is near
   and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls encircle me,
   strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
   like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
   it is melted within my breast;

15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
   you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs are all around me;
   a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
   O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
   my life from the power of the dog!
21   Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
   in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
   All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
   stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
   the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
   but heard when I cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
   my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
   those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
   May your hearts live for ever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
   and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
   shall worship before him.
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
   and he rules over the nations.

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
   before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
   and I shall live for him.
30 Posterity will serve him;
   future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
   saying that he has done it.

Verses for reflection

And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matt 27:46)

And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.(Matt 26:39)

Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’ The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way. (Matt 27:39-44)

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ 27Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.  (Jn 19:25b-27)

They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him (Matt 27:30-31)

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (Jn 19:33-34)

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ (Jn 19:28)

These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’(Jn 19:36-37)

But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.  (Matt 28:5-6a)

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.(Jn 6:35)
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Lk 24:46-47)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matt 28:19-20)

Sunday 15th July 2012 – God vs Ego

The Word This Week:

Thoughts on The Word:

Mark 6:14-29

14King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

17For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

This week’s Gospel is one of those readings many choose not to preach on.  It is a hard thing to read – I mean what message, what good are we to take from the beheading of an innocent man? What can we take from this horrible murder?  We can take a warning – a warning about the perils of putting our own ego above all else.  You see that is what happened here in this story – the reason John the Baptist is killed is for no other reason than to maintain the egos of Herodias and Herod.

Herodias was angry because John was pointing out that her marriage to Herod was immoral.  This was unacceptable, how dare he say that she was immoral! What would people think of her if this man kept going around saying that what she did was wrong – after all, they were calling him a prophet – people were listening to him, and respected what he said… no this wouldn’t do he needed to be stopped – and permanently.

Herod, it seems was a man of compromise – he wanted his wife to be happy, so he had john arrested but he wouldn’t kill him – we are told he feared him, as a righteous and holy man.  It seems though the Herod’s fear and his acknowledgement of John as a righteous and holy man was not enough when his ego was tested as well.

As the tail unfolds we see Herod becomes so enamored with his step daughter (his niece) and her dancing.  He is so pleased that he offers her anything she wishes – even half of his kingdom! The girl seeks her mothers counsel and returns with her mothers demand for the head of John.  Now Herod finds himself in a bit of a pickle – what can he do? He promised her anything she asked for in front of all these guests – what would they think of him if he didn’t keep his word? The might lose respect for him – they may even stop fearing him as their king! This would never do – he couldn’t be seen to be weak.  We are told that he was greatly grieved at the decision – he didn’t want to kill John – yet his grief was not enough to overcome his ego.

Herod gives the order – he makes the decision that his own pride – his own position and power is more important than the life of this righteous and holy man.

There is a message in all of this for us.  How often do we choose to put our own ego, our own pride ahead of God? How many times do we choose not to share the Gospel with people because we don’t want to be seen to be one of those Christians.  after all it might be embarrassing – it might make us the target of ridicule.  You see every time we put our own pride first we commit the same sin as Herod.  We may not be killing someone right then and there, but we are committing the same act of placing ourselves, and our own ego in a position above where we place the Holy one of God, and by refusing to share the Gospel we may just be robbing someone of their opportunity to learn of Jesus – and that may well cost them more than their physical life – it could cost them their eternal life. 

I have been guilty of this sin on so many occasions – and the troubling thing is that I have often justified my actions by saying to myself something like ‘they don’t want to hear it anyway – they might nod and smile but they won’t really listen so why embarrass myself?’.  I look back now and I wonder if I have contributed to the loss of someones soul through putting myself and my ego above the Gospel.  It is something I may need to answer for on judgement day.  What about you? will you be able to stand up on judgement day and say ‘I always took every opportunity given me to share the Gospel’?

Let us then renew our commitment to God and to the Gospel.  Let us commit ourselves to always share the Gospel – to ‘preach the Gospel always…’, in the words of St Francis of Assissi.  Let us not fall into the trap of Herodias  and Herod by being concerned with protecting our own egos at the expense of the righteous and Holy one of God. 

God bless you this week.