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Our journey through the book of Judges brings us today to the story of Samson. We learn about a young couple who is childless. The young woman who is unnamed is greatly desirous of a child, and when an angel of the Lord appears to her to tell her that she is to soon expect a child, she is thrilled, and tells her husband at once. The angel reappears to the both of them and reassures them they would indeed have a child soon and instructs them on how he must be raised: as a Narzarite, one whose hair is to be untouched by a razor, and one who is to abstain from all fermented drink, i.e., wine. And so it is that Samson is born.
The picture that is painted of Samson is one of a strapping young man, perhaps with long flowing hair and full of confidence and charm. Israel at this time was under the rule of the Philistines, and it so happens that Samson falls in love with a young woman of the Philistines. Much to his parents chagrin, Samson is determined to marry her and does just that.
We learn of Samson’s awesome physical strength in that he is apparently strong enough to fight a lion and live to tell it. And if all this sounds like a great story of a young man, it unfortunately, isn’t all of it. Samson is soon caught up in a strange web of intrigue with the riddles that he poses, and soon it begins to become evident that his wife’s determination to help her own people is the beginning of his ruin. We will see how this may all turn out…
In the meantime, turning to our reading in the gospel according to John, we see John state in the most unequivocal terms, his views on this man called Jesus. Let it not be said that John spoke in riddles; let it not be said that he did not reveal the truth as he saw it; let it not be said that he held back.
This is what John, the disciple says about John the Baptist: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John, the writer, continues with his account of Jesus’ life and times. Jesus calls his disciples, one by one: Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathaniel. These young men are in awe of Jesus, and Jesus tells them simply, “You will see greater things than that.” 51…“Very truly I tell you,you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Turning now to our reading of the Psalms, we find these verses penned by someone who has grown weak and is pouring out a lament before the Lord:
1 Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you. 2 Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. 3 For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. 4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. 5 In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.
And finally, in conclusion, two verses from our reading of the book of Proverbs that are worthy of record and rumination:
15 The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.
16 The wise fear the LORD and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.