Resurrected wounds

Second Sunday of Easter; 11 April 2021; Easter 2B (RCL); Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1 – 2:2; John 20:19-31.

We call him “Doubting Thomas” but he doesn’t doubt; he refuses to believe. And when, at last, he sees (and touches?) the wounds, Jesus doesn’t say (as our translation has it), “Do not doubt, but believe;” he says instead (a better translation of the Greek), “Do not be untrusty, but trusty.” And that after Thomas has ascribed to Jesus the ‘highest’ title so far in John’s Gospel: My Lord and my God.

Continue reading “Resurrected wounds”

Now is the hour

Fifth Sunday in Lent; 21 March 2021; Lent 5B (RCL); Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-13; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33.

This is a strange little passage in John’s Gospel, and for that and other reasons, I think it is the heart of the Gospel, the hinge on which John’s Gospel turns. Certain Greeks (what were Greeks doing at the Passover Festival in Jerusalem, anyway?) make known to Philip (a good Greek name) that they wish to see Jesus. Philip goes to Andrew (another good Greek name — also Philip and Andrew are the two disciples named in the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes), and the two of them go to Jesus to tell him there are some Greeks who want to see him. Jesus replies, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Huh? What has one to do with the other?

Continue reading “Now is the hour”

Cleaning house

Third Sunday in Lent; Lent 3B (RCL); Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22.

Christians often think that when Jesus “cleansed” the temple, he was simply getting rid of corrupt practices not associated with the worship of God. In fact, he is directly challenging the temple institution. People traveling to the great festivals would need to buy animals for sacrifice upon arrival, and to contribute to the Temple treasury, they would need to exchange their Roman coinage for Temple coinage. This activities were require for proper worship.

Continue reading “Cleaning house”

To save your life

Second Sunday in Lent; 28 February 2021; Lent 2B (RCL); Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:22-30; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38.

For Paul, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus inaugurated the final phase of God’s plan for Israel. Israel was to judge the world and establish God’s reign on earth. But Israel had misunderstood God’s purposes, thinking they applied only to Israel as God’s chosen people. Instead, Paul believed, Israel was to be a light to the nations, working salvation for the whole world.

Continue reading “To save your life”

A new covenant

First Sunday in Lent; 21 February 2021; Lent 1B (RCL); Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15.

The temptation story in Mark’s Gospel seems rather truncated compared to Matthew and Luke, until one remembers that Mark wrote his account first. Matthew and Luke added Q material to Mark’s account, as well as some of their own material. But they leave out an interesting detail. Mark mentions that Jesus was with the wild beasts.

Continue reading “A new covenant”

Authority

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany; 31 January 2021; Epiphany 4B (RCL); Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28.

I find this passage from Mark’s Gospel to be rather frustrating. Jesus teaches as one having authority, but Mark doesn’t give us the content of his teaching, just the crowd’s response to it. We do get an exorcism, which is really the first public act of Jesus’ ministry. And it happens in the synagogue at Capernaum. What point is Mark making?

Continue reading “Authority”

God’s call

Third Sunday after Epiphany; 24 January 2021; Epiphany 3B (RCL); Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:6-14; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20.

All of the readings for this week seem short and abrupt, and leave more unsaid than they say. We get only a tiny piece of the story of Jonah — his second call. We miss his running away to Tarshish, the three days in the belly of the fish, and then it leaves off the end of the story — Jonah being angry about the plant. All we get is his short sermon to Nineveh.

Continue reading “God’s call”

The body politic

Second Sunday after Epiphany; 17 January 2021; Epiphany 2B (RCL); 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51.

The epistle reading for this Sunday seems kind of oddly out of context. Who asked about fornication? In my growing-up days in a fundamentalist background, this passage was used to proscribe sex in general (outside of marriage, but even in marriage it still sort of frowned on). Paul, however, is talking about something very specific here: temple prostitution.

Continue reading “The body politic”

Watching insurrection

First Sunday after Epiphany; the Baptism of our Lord; 10 January 2021; Epiphany 1B (RCL); Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11.

I am watching the television coverage of a protest (?), a riot (?), an insurrection (?) at the US Capitol Building. It seems to me that the scripture readings for this coming Sunday have something to say to us about the way power works in God’s plan as opposed to how we think it should go.

At Jesus’ baptism, as narrated by Mark, the Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove (think of Noah sending out the dove after the flood), and a voice comes from heaven saying, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Mark is here quoted Psalm 2, a coronation psalm, and one of the Servant songs in Isaiah.

Continue reading “Watching insurrection”

Sharing divine life

Second Sunday after Christmas; 3 January 2021; Christmas 2 (RCL); Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84:1-8; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a; Matthew 2:1-12.

Jeremiah is writing at the end of the southern kingdom, watching as Jerusalem’s hierarchy consumes itself and Babylon approaches. And yet, he is imagining a time when God will restore not just Judah, but Israel as well. All those who went into exile from the northern kingdom when it was conquered by Assyria will come streaming to Zion, presumably when the exiles from Judah come back from Babylon. It’s a remarkable inclusive vision, and one which would be lost on Ezra and Nehemiah, who desired to set up a much more exclusive reality at the return.

Continue reading “Sharing divine life”