Saturday, 13 February 2016

Reaching out

The Psalms carry images of longing in the face of deprivation, whether voluntary or forced. These point beyond themselves to the Giver of life.

'O God you are my God, for you I long. For you my soul is thirsting, like a dry weary land where no water is.' (Psalm 63:1) 

'I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.' (Psalm 70:5)

'You are my God, have mercy on me Lord, for I cry to you all the day long. Give joy to your servant O Lord, for to you I lift up my soul. O Lord you are good and forgiving, full of love to all who call. Give heed to my prayer, and attend to the sound of my voice.' (Ps 85:2-3)

Thinking about phrases like these, adapting them into words for our own frequent use, is a way to train heart and mind in simplicity and directness of approach to God. 

God promises deliverance from affliction to all who reform their lives, and strive to live in a way that leads to the good life God himself has taught and shown us.

Sometimes we may not see clearly God's way to follow, because of interior confusion or the pressures we feel are laid on us to conform to expectation, or please others.

'Show me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.' (Ps 86:11) 

It's an appeal that may help to give us the direction we need and the strength to follow it.

'Jesus noticed a tax collector' (Luke 5:27-32)

To be a tax collector, Levi would have had to turn his back on religion, culture and family. Levites assist priests in temple worship, and even if few were professional clerics, the clan name distinguished them as guardians of Hebrew religious tradition. His work would leave him isolated and lonely, hated by compatriates as a traitor for collaborating with the Roman colonisers, and despised by the Romans for being a Jewish turncoat. 

The call of Jesus is an invitation to make a radical change to his life. He seizes it decisively, and quits his job, regardless of the consequences. Then we seem him socialising with Jesus and fellow outcasts. Is this his farewell meal for his colleagues? Hereafter, his place will be among the followers of Jesus, sharing their adventure in giving to others, not taking from them.

'What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?' (Psalm 116:12)

The cry of a grateful heart to God.

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