From glory to glory

26 February 2017
Last Sunday after Epiphany
Last Epiphany A (RCL)
Exodus 24:12-18
Psalm 99
2 Peter 1:16-21
Matthew 17:1-9

The Transfiguration (as related in the Synoptic Gospels) is a particularly fraught episode. It carries a great deal of interpretive weight. In Mark’s Gospel, it has a bit of a supersessionist feel to it — the fact that after the cloud departs, Moses and Elijah are no longer present, given the rest of Mark’s Gospel, seems to imply that the law and prophets have been replaced by Jesus. Add to that Peter’s misunderstanding of the event, and Mark seems to be saying that his community (and not the original disciples) has correctly understood the meaning of the Jesus event. Continue reading “From glory to glory”

Holiness = perfection?

19 February 2017
Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 7A (RCL)
Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18
Psalm 119:33-40
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
Matthew 5:38-48

We continue reading in course in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew is re-schooling us in righteousness, showing us what a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees looks like. This passage opens with a statement of what was said of old: an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. We often hear this as vindictive. In its time, it was in fact a moderating statement (Leviticus 24:20). If a slave injured someone, greater injury could be done to the slave: this statement required that vengeance not be in excess of the injury done, regardless of the status of the parties. But Jesus won’t even allow this moderated retaliation. This requires a shift in thinking about the nature of a righteous community. Continue reading “Holiness = perfection?”

Fulfilling righteousness

5 February 2017
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Epiphany 5A (RCL)
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 112
1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Matthew 5:13-20

Jesus began his ministry in Matthew’s Gospel by proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived.” I contend that the word we translate ‘repent’ means something more like ‘go back to school, retrain your mind.’ Matthew’s own Gospel is the textbook he intends us to use to retrain our mind. The opening paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount (the beatitudes) invited us to reconsider how a community is constituted — by constraints on behavior (the ten commandments) or by holding up exemplars for honor, which overturn the usual system of honor. This paragraph now invites us to relearn what righteousness is. Continue reading “Fulfilling righteousness”