The godless say to themselves, with their misguided reasoning:
‘Our life is short and dreary,
nor is there any relief when man’s end comes,
nor is anyone known who can give release from Hades.
Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us
and opposes our way of life,
reproaches us for our breaches of the law
and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.
He claims to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a son of the Lord.
Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking,
the very sight of him weighs our spirits down;
his way of life is not like other men’s,
the paths he treads are unfamiliar.
In his opinion we are counterfeit;
he holds aloof from our doings as though from filth;
he proclaims the final end of the virtuous as happy
and boasts of having God for his father.
Let us see if what he says is true,
let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part
and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture,
and thus explore this gentleness of his
and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death
since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.’
This is the way they reason, but they are misled,
their malice makes them blind.
They do not know the hidden things of God,
they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded,
they can see no reward for blameless souls.
Jesus stayed in Galilee; he could not stay in Judaea, because the Jews were out to kill him.
As the Jewish feast of Tabernacles drew near, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, but quite privately, without drawing attention to himself. Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.’
Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out:
‘Yes, you know me
and you know where I came from.
Yet I have not come of myself:
no, there is one who sent me
and I really come from him,
and you do not know him,
but I know him because I have come from him
and it was he who sent me.’
They would have arrested him then, but because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.
Because his life is not like that of the others, and different are his ways.
Amidst the storm of angry tweets clogging up my Twitter last week, one stood out for me, giving me hope that we have not all become debased hoarders of bread, eggs, cleaning products and toilet paper. One Augie Nash wrote that while he was standing in the checkout line at Sam’s Club, he witnessed a younger man offering an older couple, “bread and anything else you didn’t manage to find” from his own shopping cart. Wowzers! I’ve had similar experiences of my own. While on a flight to NYC two weeks ago, a woman in the next aisle offered me her spare mask and alcohol wipes. And last week, while at the grocery store searching desperately for eggs, a woman offered to split the last 4 boxes in the shelf with me, instead of grabbing them all for herself. Anyone who has been in an American grocery store or tried to order wipes, masks or sanitizer on Amazon will know that right now, this stuff is worth its weight in gold.
Scarcity brings out the worst in human nature. I’m sure that by now, we’ve all seen the videos of people fighting over stuff at grocery stores. But I believe that these difficult times also separate the wheat from the chaff. Right now, when kindness and generosity have mostly given way to fear and self-preservation, these random acts of kindness remind us all that there is still goodness in us. There are still those of us whose lives are not like others, whose ways are different. There are still remnants of us who are not selfish or self-preserving. And God has always rebuilt a people for Himself from remnants.
Now is the time to rise up and be counted. To come together, to put aside the things that divide us and find common ground. Now is the time to be strong for those around us, to be kind to one another, to live and not just preach the principles of our faith. Because we are all in this together — and either we learn to heal as a people, or we’ll die fighting each other.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for protection and safety of all those battling this plague at its frontline. We pray for God to give them strength, good health, courage for the battle and wisdom to make good decisions.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all those who are putting their own lives on the line, to get us through this difficult time.