As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. (verses 23-25)
Many people have thought that William Norman Ewer (1885-1976) was expressing an anti-Semitic sentiment when he wrote, ‘How odd/of God/to choose/the Jews’.
The twentieth century especially needed Cecil Browne’s shrewd addition: ‘But not so odd/as those who choose/a Jewish God/but spurn the Jews’.
American Jewish author Leo Rosten’s response to the original is worth a laugh: ‘Not odd/of God./Goyim/annoy ‘im’ (‘Goyim’ is the Hebrew word for Gentiles).
In today’s verses, Paul is saying that what is really odd of God is that he chose death on the cross for his own Son, so that everyone else, whether Jew or Gentile, might have life.
God has chosen you, no matter how odd you or others may think that choice is. And you have been chosen to share God’s oddness: to choose the way of the cross. That involves reaching out to help those that others find least attractive.
Thank you, God, for choosing me despite my weaknesses. Give me the courage to live the message of Christ on the cross. Amen.
by Peter Pfitzner, in ‘Assurance for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2004)
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