by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
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Mk. 10: 1-12
Sandwiched between two difficult teachings – St. James on judging and swearing and Jesus about divorce – is one of the most beautiful, assuring Psalms that speaks of God’s personality:
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8-9, 11-12
Each of these stanzas are worth concentrated meditation. Each poetically tells of an important aspect of God that we need to let sink in as we get closer to him. He radically forgives and heals us, regardless of the severity of the wrongs we’ve done. He saves us from destruction, which is so often our own doing. He is kind and compassionate, always wanting his children to return to his limitless love.
Yet since we belong to God we are also held to a higher standard. As Jesus says in Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more." St. James teaches us that we are not to judge others or make unnecessary oaths (or break them, for that matter). Far from a contemporary issue, Jesus’ harsh condemnation of divorce has always been seen as very difficult.
We are held to a higher standard that we should attempt to achieve with the entirety of who we are, yet we can always be assured that, in the words of today’s Psalm antiphon, “the Lord is kind and merciful.”
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.