Re the Daily Office Readings August 25 Anno Domini 2020

Photo of Icon of Theotokos by Krzewgorejacy

The Lessons: Job 6:1-4, 8-15, 21; Acts 9:32-43; John 6:60-71

While Job and his friends often seem to be talking past each other in chapters 4-27, here Job is engaging Eliphaz’s response (e.g., ‘vexation’ in 5:2 and 6:2). Situations like Job’s are too much for any person to deal with alone (vv.11-13), so what friendship demands becomes an important question. Verse 14 is key—and also a challenge to translators. The NRSV represents one tradition: “Those who withhold kindness from a friend forsake the fear of the Almighty” (similarly CEB). The NJPS another: “A friend owes loyalty to one who fails, Though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (similarly Alter, Seow). The verse invites double reflection: (1) What does Job think “loyalty” (chesed) from his friends should look like? (2) When we disagree profoundly with a friend, what does loyalty demand?

“We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn. 6:69). How might John want us to hear Peter’s confession? Commentators give us a start in noticing “If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?” (10:35-36) and “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth” (17:19).

Perhaps it is worth recalling that in the Old Testament holiness is dynamic, not static. ‘Holiness’ first appears in Exod. 3:5: “Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’” (literally, ground of holiness). And that starts a conversation that ends not with Moses setting up a retreat center, but with Moses returning to Egypt to liberate a people. Is it accidental that Peter’s confession “the Holy One of God” comes near Passover (6:4)? There is a whole world that needs turning upside down, and that requires some serious holiness. And so Mary sings “for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Lk. 1:49).

In the Orthodox tradition the Unburnt Bush of Exodus 3 is associated with Mary, hence the accompanying icon.

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