Living by faith

30 October 2016
Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 26C (RCL)
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Psalm 119:137-144
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 1112
Luke 19:1-10

In the lectionary we skip over some material in order to have the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector immediately follow the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We leave out the encounter of Jesus and some children, and the saying that we must enter the kingdom as children, the rich ruler asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, sayings about wealth, a passion prediction and the story of the healing of the blind beggar (in Mark’s Gospel named Bartimaeus). In Mark’s Gospel, Bartimaeus is the only person who follows Jesus on the way, and Mark uses the restoration of his sight as a counterpoint to the blindness of the disciples. Continue reading “Living by faith”

Other people

23 October 2016
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 25C (RCL)
Joel 2:23-32
Psalm 65
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Luke 18:9-14

Luke’s parable against those who have confidence in themselves and regard others with contempt may indeed be timeless, but it may never have been more timely. Our national political discourse has become ever more divisive, and characterized by contempt. Continue reading “Other people”

Give God a black eye?

16 October 2016
Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 23C (RCL)

Jeremiah 31:27-34
Psalm 119:97-104
2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5
Luke 18:1-8

To begin reading this parable, we must first correct a mistranslation. The NRSV has the unjust judge say to himself, “because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” The Greek has, “lest she give me a black eye by continually coming.” The word literally means to strike the face below the eye. It comes to mean “brow beat,” but it also carries connotation of shame, just as our expression does. The judge will grant her justice lest he be shamed in the community. Continue reading “Give God a black eye?”

This foreigner

9 October 2016
Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 23C (RCL)
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

This story in Luke stands out of its context and calls attention to itself in several ways. In the sayings immediately preceding this story, Jesus addresses his disciples about occasions of sin, correcting a community member who sins against one, and forgiveness. The “apostles” ask Jesus to increase their faith, and Jesus replies with the figure of the mulberry bush. Faithfulness this size of a mustard seed could uproot the complex root system of a mulberry tree — perhaps standing in for the systems of sin and injustice within a community. Then, the disciples are instructed not to expect thanks for doing the hard work of addressing community systems.

This story returns to the travel theme: Continue reading “This foreigner”