I.                    Footprints poem.  Why is God concerned for the weak?

II.                 The God of the Old Testament

a.      Adam, the common man who acts as a king by naming the animals (Gen 2:18-20a)

b.      Abraham

                                                               i.      Two children.  First one, Ishmael, is by Hagar.  Conceived the usual way, according to the flesh  (Gen 16)

                                                             ii.      Second one by Sarah, when she is 99 years old.

1.      Impossible, also note that there is not “Abraham knew Sarah”  (Compare Gen 16:4)

2.      The initiative of God, not that of man.  God creates where there is no life (the barren womb of Sarah).

c.      Jacob and Esau  (esp. Gen 27).  The younger supplants the older.

d.      Joseph, the youngest brother at that time (Gen 37)

e.      Ps 78, when God acts, we are O.K., when we act, there are problems!

f.        Moses and the Exodus

                                                               i.      Note that God chooses people who are slaves.  (Ex 1)

1.       

                                                             ii.      The wilderness, where God supports his people is like Sarah’s womb, barren and unable to support life.  The Israelites have an utter dependence on God.  (Ex 16) 

1.      The manna comes every day, and none can be saved overnight (v. 13-26).

2.      Give us this day our daily bread…(there is nothing new under the sun)

                                                            iii.      The Exodus – God fights for the people.  (Ex 14:5-31).  Parallel the killing of the Syro-Ephraimite army (Is 7)

1.      Do not look for other help – like from the Egyptians.  (Is 20)  See also Ps 3, 9:9, 12:5, 14:6, etc.

2.      The suffering servant (Is 52:13-53).  The lowly one par excellence, who is utterly stricken, and then lifted up.  See also Ps 22.

g.      There are other examples, but let’s look at the New Testament (since we have already started to discuss Christ explicitly.

III.               Jesus is concerned for the poor

a.      Lk 4:16-21.  Fulfillment of eschatological prophecy of Isaiah (Is 61)

b.      Lk 6:20-26.  The weak are blessed, while the strong are in trouble.

c.      The sinful woman is forgiven.  Lk 7:36-50

d.      Who is the greatest?  Lk 9:46-48

IV.              Jesus is stricken according to the will of the Father

a.      The servant poem, Ps 22  (revisited)

b.      Gethsemane  Matt 26:36-46

c.      We are made children of God according to his will, not another will; i.e. we are children of the promise, not of the flesh.  (Jn 1:12-13 and Gal 3:29 and 4:21-5:1)

d.      One does not approach God through strength, but through weakness.

                                                               i.      St. Paul does not trust in his own ‘strength’.  (Rom 11:1)

                                                             ii.      God shows his love for us when we are weak, not when we are strong.  (Rom 5:6-11)

e.      The role of the strong is to help the weak

                                                               i.      Rom 14:1ff, 15:1ff

                                                             ii.      I Cor 12-13

V.                 The main point is this, when we are weak, God is able to act in us, to form Christ in us.  The danger is when we feel like we have strength (see Ps 78 again)  Then, we start to believe the lie that we can reach out at take life ourselves (See Gen 2 and the serpent’s lie).

a.      The analogy of breaking a horse and breaking the passions (of 2 types)

                                                               i.      Passions of the flesh in which people are like animals (St. Mark the Ascetic?)

                                                             ii.      Passions that are not of the flesh, in which people are like demons (also from St. Mark the Ascetic in the Philokalia Vol. 1)

b.      The analogy of muscle tissue, which is broken down and rebuilt under weight training.  Connection to Lent and the spiritual struggle, in which we make ourselves realize our weakness so that we can be made strong.  See

c.      In all this, the weak person is given hope in God, and so is lifted up.  Also, this person is dignified in being identified with Christ.  Conversely, the strong person is humbled and limited so that that person does not become arrogant, but instead has love and care for the weak.

VI.              Return to the Footprints poem and the events recorded by each individual in the beginning.

a.      How do you each view the times in your lives during which you felt strong?

b.      How do you each view the times in you lives during which you felt weak?

c.      End

 

 

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