The Word of the Lord

“O Lord, … do not pass by your servant ” (Gen. 18:3).

We see in the lesson from Amos (continuing the theme from previous weeks) that the people as a nation refuse the word of the Lord that comes through the prophet. They are frantically committed to making money and are blind to anything else. The New Moon and the Sabbath are considered merely as constraints that keep them from making a profit, and profits will be made by cheating (“false balances,” “selling the sweepings”) and ginding the poor and powerless. The Lord is outraged and swears, “I will never forget any of their deeds” (Amos 8:7b). Most ominously of all, he declares that there shall be a famine “of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11b). Those who have rejected the words of the Lord shall get what they want without even realizing that the only thing that gives life has been taken from them. The description of the national anguish is chilling.

By sharp contrast, in the lesson from Genesis, Abraham greets his visitors with customary lavish Eastern hospitality. The three visitors are in fact a manifestation of the Lord himself though Abraham is not, at first, aware of it. His eager and generous welcome results in the promise that his wife, Sarah, shall have a son within a year. It is important to note that this promise comes after about 25 years of waiting for God to fulfill the promise that Sarah would produce a son. In this instance, though Abraham was not initially aware that his visitor was a manifestation of the Lord himself, his decades of fidelity to God made him easily able to receive that visitation when it came. In both lessons from the Old Testament, long habits determine the attitude of the recipient of the Word of God when it came — either of blind and ignorant rejection or of gracious welcome, even before recognition comes.

The gospel account of Mary’s eagerness to hear Jesus ‘ teaching makes a powerful companion lesson whether one selects the lesson from Genesis or Amos. Here also a habit determines a response to the presence of God. Martha is “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41b). One may perhaps assume that this is a habit Martha has — very common today even among the faithful — which subtly but very effectively causes her to miss much of Jesus’ teaching. She knows enough to be a loving disciple, but without further teaching from Jesus even while he is a guest in her own house, she will make only limited

progress in discipleship.

Look It Up

Note the epistle’s tie to the theme in the other lessons. Paul explains how the message of Christ, “the image of the invisible God,” redeems those who hear and receive it.

Think About It

Note that Jesus’ mild reproval of Martha is not because she is busy doing the serving, which obviously must be done ; it is because she is “anxious and troubled about many things.”

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