A Strange and Elusive God

Twenty-third Sunday The first reading (Wis 9:13-18b) offers a perspective that seems at odds with much that is claimed: often in the Scripture, predictably in homilies, surely in popular pronouncement. The Book of Wisdom, likely the youngest book in the Old Testament, speaks of the gap between what we ascribe to God and what may be so. Radical uncertainty. This is the Job question: can God have criteria quite at odds with our human sense of justice? The lectionary throws the Wisdom viewpoint against other texts. The entrance antiphon praises God: "Your judgments are just." Do we know that, believe it, count on it, decide it? What judgments are we thinking of, and how are we figuring? Is God’s judgment the good that happens to us–-and especially the misfortune that befalls our opponents? When we face death with the psalmist, old age and chains with Paul–-or when our opponents do: Is that God’s true justice? When a suicide bomber claims certainty about God’s desires, why do we refuse it? If we know but feebly, how can we do what Jesus counsels in his two vivid images: calculate costs? Philip Sheldrake urges that we allow God to be "strange and elusive rather than familiar or domestic...."* That seems right, especially when we celebrate our own good fortune or the evil that befalls another, lest we too simplistically valorize as God’s what we most desire ourselves. Barbara Green, OP
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Join America Media for a discussion with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, with Matt Malone, S.J., editor in chief of America magazine, on the foundations of the papacy of pope Francis.
America FilmsSeptember 19, 2018
Brett and Bridget Hutchinson of St. Thomas More in St. Paul, Minn., pray with other young adults gathered on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul Aug. 20 during a vigil called "Evening Prayer for the Survivors of Clerical Abuse and the Healing of the Church." (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit) 
“I’m unhappy about what’s being done here,” Elizabeth Bruenig said at a conversation at Georgetown University. “The one thing I can do is throw a fit.”
Teresa DonnellanSeptember 19, 2018
A Vatican source confirmed that a high-level Holy See delegation will travel to the Chinese capital for the signing and that a date has already been fixed for this ground-breaking event.
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 18, 2018
Swiss Guards salute as Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston leave a meeting of cardinals with Pope Francis in the synod hall at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2014. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 
“The church has lost credibility in investigating itself.”
Jim McDermottSeptember 18, 2018