4 Epiphany

Micah 6:1-8 • Ps. 15 • 1 Cor. 1:18-31 • Matt. 5:1-12

At the foothills of the highest mountains, to ancient bedrock and the long enduring foundations, a voice speaks out against an elect people. God may but does not speak to the people. God speaks rather to the enduring witnesses of time’s slow carving. God’s word wafting through mountain air or moving over the face of ancient rock sings a musical sadness. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent to you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Mic. 6:3-4).

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?” the accused ask (Mic. 6:6-7). “Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?” Is God the big business of everlasting transactions? The prophet speaks the Lord’s word: “[W]hat does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8). We imagine the accused speaking again: “Yes, Lord, but how?”

“We have no power of ourselves to help ourselves” (BCP, p. 167). It’s true. We are helpless and hapless. Our life is chasing after the wind. Admitting this, we might explore more deeply the most foolish thing of all: “the message about the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18). Jesus Christ was crucified and those who are called are crucified in union with him. Hanging on the cross with him, we are weak, low and despised, reduced to nothing. Our life empties out. Sin, the flesh, and the devil are exhausted. Nothing remains but “the source.” But the source is not “I” or “we” collectively. We have no power of ourselves to help ourselves. God is the “source of your life in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30). The cross reveals “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24).
The old man dies; the new is born.

The new life is Christ himself. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Before the cross, however, in his life and teaching and healing, a foreshadowing of the cross is a persistent presence. Blessing the poor in spirit, the ones who mourn, the meek, the ones hungering for a lost righteousness, Jesus deliberately appeals to a deep inner emptiness. Even persecution may be endured, for such stripping reveals a reward great in the heavens. Again, absolute emptiness reveals the enduring source of our life in Christ.

It is good to recall often that our life is hidden with Christ in God, good also to meditate on the cross. Notice that we die with him and are affixed to him. Deathless life in him becomes our own life. “I glorify Jesus Christ as God, who had rendered you wise; I have observed that you are perfect in an unshakable faith as if you have been affixed with nails in body and soul to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and stable in love through the blood of Christ, believing with the full and firm faith in our Lord Jesus Christ … from whose fruit [i.e., the cross] we are divinely through his blessed passion” (Ex Epistula sancti Ignatii Antiocheni episcopi et martyris ad Smyrnaeos, cap. 1).

Divinely renewed in Christ, we go about a new business. We do justice by honoring God and human beings in a web of love and responsibility. We are devoted and steadfast; we walk lightly and humbly.

Look It Up
Read Ps. 15. Your holy hill.

Think About It
We are … divinely.


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