Thoughts for Wednesday 9th September, 2020

Psalm 121; Exodus 13:1-10; Matthew 21:18-22

 

Wednesday 9 September

 

The Bible can often puzzle us, and today it throws up at least two conundrums. The first is: how can the moon possibly hurt us? (Psalm 121:6) And the second is: What can the fig tree possibly have done to make Jesus so mad? (Matthew 21:19) Would it really have been its fault not to have any figs for him yet?

 

Let’s take the first question first. We can understand the power of the sun to hurt us, but not the moon. Until, that is, we remember that this is poetry rather than prose, and that the sun and the moon may actually be representative of something else altogether – and in this case, I would suggest, of time. So that, in the same way that the first ‘poem’ in the Bible at Genesis 1 has, ‘So God made the two larger lights, the sun to rule over the day and the moon to rule over the night,’ what the psalmist is doing, it seems to me, is to say that God will make sure that no harm will befall us, not just half of the time, but for the whole of our lives.

 

Moses, incidentally, uses the same ‘technique’ at the end of Deuteronomy in his blessing of Joseph, which he begins with,

 

Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon.

 

It’s an expression of totality.

 

One of my favourite poets is W. B. Yeats; who also uses the same motif in his poem, ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’, in order to express the totality of the Irish god of youth, love and summer’s search for love:

 

I went out to the hazel wood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

 

When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

 

Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done,

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

 

Let us pray:

 

(using the words of Ave Redemptor, Protestantism’s ‘version’ of the Ave Maria or Hail Mary – which, if not figs, does mention fruit)

 

Hail the Redeemer, Lord Jesus,

By whose work

Death is defeated, for salvation

Has now overflowed upon all of the world.

Holy redeemer, our faith

Is reckoned to us sinners,

Now and in death, as righteousness,

 

Amen.

 

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