Friday, June 6, 2014 – 7 Easter, Year Two
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 102 (morning) // 107:1-32 (evening)
During our parish retreat in April, an astute five-year-old boy asked me, “Are you going to have a baby?” He’d become a big brother within the past year, so he knew what he was talking about. Also, I was seven months pregnant . . . so the answer to his question was fairly obvious to everyone else. When I told him “Yes,” he answered with delight: “I KNEW it!”
This story brings me first to an announcement and second to a message. The announcement is this: My Scripture reflections will be less frequent for the next twelve weeks, because I’m expecting the birth of my daughter very soon. Today is my last “official” post, but I might keep up the discipline of reflecting on the daily readings here and there. We shall see!
The message that I draw from the story is this: So much joy and confidence comes from the confirmation of our intuitions. The five-year-old was fairly certain that he knew the answer to his own question, and when I assured him that he was correct, he was full of delight. Our Scriptures today lead us to experience the joy that comes from trusting what we know deep down.
Our passage from the prophet Jeremiah explains that under the new covenant, people don’t need to teach or study or learn in order to know God. Instead of revealing and trying to impose his law on people, God instead encodes his desires in our deepest being: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”
Because of people’s inwardly inscribed knowledge of God, “No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord.” Perhaps we will confirm, strengthen, and deepen this knowledge for each other, but we don’t need to put that knowledge in other people. Knowledge of God is already within each of us.
In spite of this promising new covenant, many of us still practice our faith according to models of teaching and learning. In fact, Jesus uses this method when instructing the Pharisees. In response to their questions and criticism about his eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus says, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'” The Pharisees try to know God by studying, interpreting, and learning.
Similarly, our passage from Ephesians struggles to impose on its readers a set of virtues and behaviors that they need to obey. The text isn’t precisely clear about what constitutes “fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed.” We are left with only this basic instruction: “Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.”
What a relief it should be to know that God has already placed in our hearts a deep sense of what is good, right, joyful, and pleasing. Our passage from Jeremiah explains that this innate knowledge of God is possible because “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
What instincts, impulses, and intuitions will we begin to trust today? As we come to follow the way that God has woven into our hearts, and as we rely on the mercy that covers us when we get it wrong, may we know the joy of proclaiming, “I knew it!” No one had to teach us or tell us these truths. They were within us all along.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.