Judith is one of the seven extra books in the Catholic Old Testament. It tells of an Israelite town besieged by the Assyrian army who cut off the town’s water supply. The town chieftain promises to surrender if God does not rescue them within five days.
Judith is a beautiful, rich, young widow, who is also very devout. She tells the leaders of the people that they are wrong to test God with a promise of surrender if God does not rescue them in a set time. Instead, she puts her faith in God and sets out to save her people. This she does (in Old Testament gruesome style) by decapitating the army’s captain. (There’s a Donatello sculpture in Florence depicting this.) It’s a rattling good tale that would be suitable for a Hollywood blockbuster.
However, the message for us is that we should not make demands on God. We should not adopt a “I want you to do this for me, or else…” attitude. We should simply thank God for what we have received and trust that God will provide for us whenever, and in whatever way, is appropriate – which is usually the way we least expect.
One member of the group said that she can’t read the Old Testament because she finds it so ‘unchristian’ and the thought of a woman chopping off a man’s head in order to please God makes her question the goodness of God. A good point. We all agreed that in the Old Testament there’s a lot of justification given to the killing of the enemy by the ‘people of God’. However, it was pointed out that this belief was reversed by Jesus who told us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. We have to appreciate that the Old Testament is a product of its time and always look for the underlying message.
The underlying message in Judith – don’t make demands on God – is a good one. We have to be patient when things don’t seem to be happening as quickly as we would wish and we have to keep faith when things don’t seem to be going our way. We must remember that God loves us and things will turn out for the best in the end.
We meet in St Helen’s Church at 1.30, starting with tea and biscuits, finishing at 3pm.
Future meetings are:
23rd November Priorities (Luke 10:38)
30th November Sincerity (Matthew 5:8)
7th December Shepherds and Magi (Luke Ch.2; Matt.Ch.2)
Meetings each Thursday at 1.30 pm in St. Helen’s Parish Centre.