Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Isaiah 43-44 and My Own Book "Leadings: A Catholic's Journey Through Quakerism" (Part 37)

Isaiah 43 – Yahweh’s claim on his people: “I have called you by your name, you are mine. Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you or through rivers, they will not swallow you up” (43:1-2).

Yahweh will bring back the remnant. There is “no other savior but me” Yahweh says. He is the power behind a “new exodus”. “No need to recall the past . . . See, I am doing a new deed, . . . I am making a road in the wilderness, paths in the wilds” (43:19). “The people I have formed for myself will sing my praises” (43:21). While Yahweh notes that the people of Jacob and Israel have not bothered honoring Yahweh with sacrifices, He will not remember their sins.

Isaiah 44 – Despite their lack of faithfulness, “I will pour out water on the thirsty soils, streams on the dry ground. I will pour my spirit on your descendants, my blessing on your children” (44:3).  Monotheism shall reign without compromises. “I am the first and the last; there is no other God besides me” (44:6).

The idols of human hands are useless. The makers of idols seek only their own gain. “They know nothing, understand nothing. Their eyes are shut to all seeing, their heart to all reason” (44:18).  But Yahweh has been faithful to his people. “Come back to me, for I have redeemed you” (44:22). The creation will shout for joy.

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism
Part 37
The Scriptures, however one analyses their weight and authority, are also where we have a degree of unity as Christians—Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. And they are where we have unity with the Jews, our “elder brother” as Pope John Paul II called them, in the redemption God offers. It is through the language and framework offered by the Scriptures that we will ultimately find a common way of understanding and articulating our spiritual kinship.

Last but by no means least, Quaker spirituality offers lay men and women in the Church a way of seeing themselves and their lives as consecrated to Christ even without entering into what the Church calls “religious life”—becoming a priest or nun or monk. One of the most serious drawbacks of Catholic Christianity for many Protestant Christians is the great divide that separates “religious” from lay members of the community. Quaker spirituality offers a tradition of lay holiness (though they would not call it that), a tradition of living in Christ’s life and power in one’s day-to-day affairs, that can be incorporated into our lives as Catholics. Christ offers to all believers his risen life for us to be part of. God wants us to hear him and follow him now, in this life. From the earliest chapters of our redemption story, God has called us to this:

“The Lord, your God, shall you follow, and him shall you fear; his commandment shall you observe, and his voice shall you heed, serving him and holding fast to him alone” (Deut. 13: 4-5).

“Then the people promised Joshua, “We will serve the Lord, our God, and obey his voice” (Josh. 24:24).

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice; Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert” (Ps. 95:7).

“This rather is what I commended them: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people” (Jer. 7:23).

“. . .the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25).

“. . . the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out . . . “(John 10:3).

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