There are some lovely lines in today’s lectionary readings, starting right at the beginning with the declaration that “the Lord is a God of justice who knows no favorites.” I smile at that one because it’s followed immediately with a caveat about the fact that even though God “is not unduly partial toward the weak,” or deaf to the cry of orphans and widows, yet God hears the cries of the oppressed. There’s also a bow to those who serve God willingly and the lowly whose prayer “pierces the clouds.” In the end, we have the assurance that “the Most High responds and judges justly; the Lord will not delay.” So the question remains. Is God or is God not partial in response to prayer and good works?
It seems clear to me that the Psalmist writes on behalf of the poor, the just and the brokenhearted. (PS 34) and that Paul’s testimony this morning (2 TM 4) is evidence of his good living. Then Luke adds to the examples of those who will be rewarded the story of the Pharisee and the publican (LK 18). What are we to conclude from all these examples? It sounds to me like favoritism.
I have to stop and consider everything I have read. Then I think of the God I trust. I go back to the beginning of my reflection about the fact that God shows no favoritism…and see the first part of that sentence: “God is a God of justice.” Can I assume that as the overarching theme of God’s existence – adding the quality of compassion into the mix of God’s treatment of humankind? If so, I think I find a reasonable answer. God can look at us all as cherished creatures, love us all equally and expect us to live as we were created to: in unifying love toward one another. If we respond positively to that invitation, we will be rewarded. If we do not, the justice of God will enter for correction, always with the potential for forgiveness and reconciliation.
How does that sound?