Job. Part of the power of texts like today’s comes from Job’s later testimony re his former life, e.g., “…because I delivered the poor who cried, / and the orphan who had no helper. / The blessing of the wretched came upon me, / and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy” (29:12-13). This is what Job did for the needy; is it fitting for God in Job’s case to do so much less?
The combination of this chapter and Job 29 challenges us readers, for chapters like Job 7 “boosts the signal” of the voice of the many sufferers in our midst that we might not hear—or be too numb to hear, and chapter 29 asks us point-blank what we’re doing about it.
Acts. As we’ll hear in the next readings, the visions accomplish their immediate purpose: Peter accepts Cornelius’ invitation. At the same time, we might wonder about Peter’s vision. “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” Within the vision the reference is to food, an apparent stunning reversal of the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Peter thinks that the vision isn’t (primarily?) about food, (later) saying to Cornelius “God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.” But does the Law or the Old Testament ever declare the gentiles per se to be ‘profane’ or ‘unclean’? And later, as Paul tells the story, in Antioch Peter draws back from eating with Gentile Christians (Gal 2:11-13). The dietary laws made Jews and Gentiles sharing a common life difficult, if not impossible; was Peter’s vision also about food? As with Jesus’ teaching re what defiles (Matt 15:1-20; Mk 7:1-23), his followers drew different conclusions re the status of the food laws. “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)” is in Mark (7:19) but not in Matthew.
John. Since Jesus does make a public appearance at the Feast (see tomorrow’s reading), why does John give us today’s text? Jesus seems torn re tactics and timing. I find v.7 equally puzzling: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.” Outside of driving the merchants and money changers out of the temple (2:13-17), what words or actions does this testimony reference? Is it a question of light vs. darkness (1:5; 3:19-21)?