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.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Inevitable Incomprehension, a reflection on 2 Esdras 4:1-21

As he was pondering the mystery of why the ungodly Babylon was able to defeat Israel, Ezra experienced a vision of the angel Uriel. He challenged Ezra, "You can't understand this world; do you think you can comprehend the way of the Most High?" When Ezra said he could, Uriel posed three problems: Weigh the weight of fire; measure a blast of wind; relive a past day.

When Ezra said that all three of those were impossible, Uriel said "If I asked you questions about the bottom of the ocean or where doors to Hell or Heaven are, you could respond that you have never been to the ocean bottom or to Hell or Heaven. But, I asked you about fire, wind, and your own past--all of which you have experienced--and you can't answer my questions abut them. If you can't understand the things that you have grown up with, how can you comprehend the way of the Most High?

He then posed a parable: A forest decided to take over the land occupied by the sea. The sea decided to flood the forest. The forest's plan failed when fire burned it down. The sea's plan failed when the sand on the beach blocked it. If now you were the judge, which plan would you justify and which would you condemn?

Ezra responded, "Each was foolish for trying to take more than was intended." Uriel said, "You are right about that. Now why can't you apply your judgment correctly to your own case? For as the land has been assigned to the forest, and the sea to the waves, so also can those on earth, and the one who is above the heavens understand the height of the heaven.

I'm quite unsure how to interpret Uriels's assessment. I can accept the judgment that we shouldn't try to take something that is somebody else's. But, I don't want to believe that we aren't supposed to ask questions.

No comments: