Old Testament Reading
Micah 3:1-8 -
Rulers and Prophets Denounced
3 And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?— 2 you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin from off my people and their flesh from off their bones,3 who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces and chop them up like meat in a pot, like flesh in a cauldron. 4 Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil. 5 Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths. 6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; 7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God. 8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.
Psalm 19 (20,21)
How clearly the sky reveals God's glory! How plainly it shows what he has done! Each day announces it to the following day; each night repeats it to the next. No speech or words are used, no sound is heard; yet their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth. God made a home in the sky for the sun; it comes out in the morning like a happy bridegroom, like an athlete eager to run a race. It starts at one end of the sky and goes across to the other. Nothing can hide from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect; it gives new strength. The commands of the LORD are trustworthy, giving wisdom to those who lack it. The laws of the LORD are right, and those who obey them are happy. The commands of the LORD are just and give understanding to the mind. Reverence for the LORD is good; it will continue forever. The judgments of the LORD are just; they are always fair. They are more desirable than the finest gold; they are sweeter than the purest honey. They give knowledge to me, your servant; I am rewarded for obeying them. None of us can see our own errors; deliver me, LORD, from hidden faults! Keep me safe, also, from willful sins; don't let them rule over me. Then I shall be perfect and free from the evil of sin. May my words and my thoughts be acceptable to you, O LORD, my refuge and my redeemer!
New Testament Reading
Paul Before Felix at Caesarea
24 And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. 2 And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:
“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, 3 in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. 4 But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. 5 For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”
9 The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.
10 And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. 11 You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12 and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18 While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia—19 they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21 other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”
Paul Kept in Custody
22 But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.
We read these readings with awe and wonder. Sometimes even with surprise on how it speaks to us directly. We are often reminded that we should read the Bible regularly and meditate on it. It will help with our development of the Quiet time we need and should make time for. We are reminded that we should always have God before us when we act with others. The Old Testament reading is speaking with fierce directness against the prophets who should know better and those who lead the people of God astray. We often will start pointing fingers at this point. We will claim that we are not prophets and we have nothing to do with leading the people of God astray. We will feel like that reading may not have anything to do with us. Our typical human response is "It wasn’t me!".
We all study the Bible and listen to the words of our preachers. We all interact with our neighbour and even share the word of God with our fellow servant on this road. I often wonder how many of us who like to claim that we are on a journey to Salvation are taking note of the bodies we leave in our wake. We like to sit and walk with confidence like the space we occupy is our own. The work we do belong to us. The ministry we serve is "My ministry". We at these times forgot that God make all these things possible.
The people we destroy and break down and insult with our righteous attitude completely forgotten!
Just pause and think of the decisions we made which will only benefit us and did not serve God. Take a moment to ponder on cased where we serve ourselves instead of God. Let’s think of time where we RULE in our house, work or church without any consultation from the Lord.
We read in the New Testament reading of Acts that the Pharisees and High-Priest went to the Governor of Palestine and laid a charge against Paul. They all agreed that Paul was a nuisance and that he was a follower of the Way. Their spokesperson spoke eloquently before the Governor. Paul responded with the facts. Detailing everything he has done and why. All these things could not be disputed by those who lay charges against him. This was before a Governor who know the Way intimately.
Is it not always the case with us, the Rulers and Prophets of this age to lay false charges against one of our own and then get friends and cronies to agree with us? Today we really need to examine ourselves of the dark paths we sometimes roam - In private and often very public. We need to repent and return to the Way which Christ has directed us to. We have a cloud of witness and inspirational Spiritual leaders who can assist us in returning to the way of Christ. We only need to repent and study the word of God to keep us on that Way.
Psalm 19 tells us how wonderful God is. How his blessings are new every morning. How we can only but relax in the knowledge of his Greatness. We may falter and fail. We may sin and stray. But we can always return to the ever forgiving God who will help us grow and restore our relationship with him.
The journey we travel may not be smooth and without turn-offs and dead-ends, but it is a journey of discovery of the wonders which God promised through his Son.
Read and reflect on the word of God and remember to talk to you priest or Spiritual guide. They may even have experience some of the things we struggle with.