Do we ever really know God’s plan?
Scripture is a help, I suppose. But often I find that the words of scripture function less like an answer book…than an invitation to enter into mystery.
Sunday’s gospel reading is a case in point. The passage from Mark (and its parallels in Matthew and Luke) is one of my least favorites.
The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
I don’t know about Jesus, but I certainly feel tested when I hear his answer:
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”
It tests me, largely because of all the good, holy people I know…whose life’s journey has brought them to just such a state: Divorced and remarried…and now in the arms of a partner who has drawn him (or her) closer to Christ.
You wouldn’t expect that to happen, given the proscriptive nature of Jesus’ words. He doesn’t offer much wiggle room here. And yet…
And yet…somehow, holiness blossoms in these relationships. Christ finds a way.
The past few days, I’ve been moved to wonder about how we, as church, respond to other (perhaps similar) perceived improprieties. How quick—and resolute—we can be in throwing the book at those who ‘cause scandal.’
It’s not a healthy instinct, I’m inclined to believe. Our certainty—surrounding another person’s sinfulness—tends to blind us just a bit. It diverts our attention from our own brokenness. Our own—my own—deep, enduring, abject need for God’s mercy.
With our answer books in hand, we can be tempted by righteousness to say we know God’s plan…and we know who’s worthy, or not worthy, to be part of it.
Humility makes a lot more sense as an organizing principle for any gathering of the Body of Christ, it seems to me. After all, church is precisely the place where sinners need to be. All of us.
When we come together there, even in our brokenness, we are given the opportunity to contemplate this mystery, over and again: that we are—all of us—created in the image and likeness of God.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.
Awesome insight John. Thank you.