It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Righteousness lasts, a reflection on Wisdom of Solomon 1:6-2:1, 12-22

The lectionary offers two alternatives for an Old Testament reading to support the gospel reading this week. Here's the passage from Wisdom of Solomon (unfamilar to those of us whose Bibles don't include the Apocrypha:
But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company. For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, "Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end, and no one has been known to return from Hades.

"Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father.

Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God's child, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected."

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them, and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hoped for the wages of holiness, nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
Several questions arose for me when I read this passage; e.g., How disturbing are the righteous among the rest of us? Is a righteous person an inconvenience? Do we agree that the unrighteous can even see God's help?

Gene Tucker in Preaching through the Christian YearB offers a good analysis of this passage:
The text contrasts immorality with death, setting both into a moral context. Righteousness is life. Those who are righteous live. Because God's righteousness is eternal, those who live out of that image of God will live eternally.

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