Reflections for Pentecost 9/Ordinary 23

Proverbs 22:1-23, Psalm 125, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37

Is wisdom a necklace with a diverse set of pieces held together on a string of generous justice (Proverbs), a black and white choice (Psalm), a lifestyle of action navigated by love (James) or a person seeking quiet reflection only to have his boundaries stretched and his ears opened by an assertive female foreigner (Mark)?

Or can it be all of these options in differing circumstances?

The gate (Proverbs 22:22) was a  centre of political and judicial life in ancient towns; Mt Zion was the centre of political, social and religious life for Israel after its capture by David (Psalm 125:1); the assembly or gathering of their community, probably in someone’s home, was the centre of religious life for early Christians (James 2:1). Both Tyre and the region of the Decapolis were on the outside of the religious boundary lines.

What are the focal points of our social, political, religious lives? Are they separated or bound together? Are there insiders and outsiders? Are there people who for varied reasons may be acceptable or unacceptable?

Where is God? Does God have a preferential attitude to the poor, the outsider? Is God primarily concerned with the good and the upright?

In the first half of the Mark passage Jesus learns from a multiple outsider. In the second half of the passage he applies that learning. Who makes us learn? Who drags us outside our comfort zones? Do we place ourselves in locations where we will encounter such learning?  Do we sit with our learning or do we apply it in the situations we encounter in our daily life?

Graham Booth
Longford Uniting Church