Local boy makes good

Epiphany 4C

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17

1 Corinthians 14:12-20

Luke 4:21-32

I find it remarkable that books like Jeremiah made it into the canon. With the resources for writing and recording often in the hands of the royal and priestly administration, it is surprising that so much of those resources would go toward preserving a book like Jeremiah, so critical of both king and priest. It serves to remind us how careful we need to be in self-critique: are we too comfortable? I’m glad I’m not Jeremiah.

The passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians continues his instructions on speaking in tongues and spiritual matters in general. If we have become too smug in the graces God has given us, there is danger. One interesting thing to note: The NRSV asks, “How can anyone in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your [Eucharist]?” (since that one doesn’t understand tongues). The word for outsider in Greek is idiotes. It means something like a private person, a person all by him or herself. It can mean a common person, or a person unskilled. So, how can the person who occupies the place of the uninstructed, or the uninitiated say the Amen. The purpose of the liturgy then is to instruct and initiate. It’s not for the smug and learned.

Jesus begins so beautifully in Nazareth. One can almost hear the crowd saying, “He’s our boy!” at the end of the first half of his sermon. The year of Jubilee. All debts forgiven, property restored, captives freed. That’s good news for us! But then he goes on. Elijah was only sent to a widow in Zarapheth; Elisha only cured Naaman the Syrian — outsiders. The Lord’s Jubilee is meant for others. No wonder they wanted to throw him off the hill.

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