Archive for December 2021

Rejecting Jesus   Leave a comment

Above:  Ruins in Samaria, 1925

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXV

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Luke 9:51-62

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The Gospel of John gives us the three-year-long span of Jesus’s ministry.  In the Synoptic tradition, though, the ministry lasted for about a year.

Luke 9:51 changes the course of that Gospel; Jesus is on his way to die.  This is important to interpreting Luke 9:52-19:27 (the rest of the Gospel of Luke to the edge of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem) properly.

Jesus, not offering any excuses, accepts none. Discipleship comes with exacting and stern demands.

Discipleship does not consist in zealous punishment of those who reject Jesus and his mission; nor does it consist in qualified following.  All of this comes from the teacher who walks resolutely toward the goal.

–Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (1981), 827

The call to follow Jesus outranks even filial responsibilities.  In this context, the spiritually dead may inter the physically dead.  Following Christ requires uninterrupted focus and attention.

The words attributed to Jesus in this passage may seem severs.  Yet they are not unreasonable.  Consider, O reader, that Jesus gave himself for others, including you.  How much are you willing to give for him?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPINA NICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MINISTER TO THE POOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PRIEST AND MARTYR, CIRCA 351

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Posted December 31, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Luke 9

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Greatness   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ with the Children, by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXIV

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Luke 9:37-50

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First, I know that demonic possession does not cause epilepsy.  In this regard, I know more than people did in the first century C.E.  Reading ancient texts that carry discredited assumptions we moderns do not necessarily share requires one to ask, “What is really going on here?”

We read that, one day after the Transfiguration, Jesus’s disciples were not “ready for primetime.”  We read that they did not understand his second prediction of the Passion.  We read that, in contrast to the Twelve, someone else was “performing exorcisms) (whatever that means in current diagnostic terms) successfully.

…and everyone was awestruck by the greatness of God.

–Luke 9:43, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

And, among human beings in the divine order, the one who is least is greatest.  The Lucan theme of reversal of fortune recurs.

Ego is not necessarily negative.  A healthy ego is essential.  A realistic self-image is humility.  An inferiority complex and arrogance–opposites–lead to the same selfish results.  One places oneself at the center, at the expense of others and the common good.  One with an inferiority complex does so to feel better about oneself.  One with a raging ego does so because one imagines one is so important as to belong in the center.  Arrogance is appropriate in cats.  In the rest of us, it is sinful.

Status is a popular idol.  A relative few people may be immune to its temptations.  I am not one of these people.  Jesus still teaches us that the divine order is right side up and the human order is upside down.  Human psychology and sociology are consistent; human nature does not change.  Yet, in the divine order, the first are last and the last are first.

Luke 1:1-9:50 and 9:52f exist in the shadow of 9:51:

Now it happened that as the time drew near for him to be taken up, he resolutely turned his face toward Jerusalem….

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Jesus did not value high status in human terms.  He came to serve.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPINA NICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MINISTER TO THE POOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PRIEST AND MARTYR, CIRCA 351

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Posted December 31, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Luke 9

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The Identity of Jesus   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Transfiguration

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXIII

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Luke 9:1-36

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Who was Jesus?  That theme from Luke 8 continues in chapter 9.

St. Luke’s “orderly” account” is especially orderly in 9:1-36.  The question of Herod Antipas contrasts with the Confession of St. Peter and with the Transfiguration.  We read that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and consistent with the Law of Moses and the Hebrew prophetic tradition.  We read that Jesus was greater than Elijah.  We read that Jesus, who was the master of demons, gave mastery over them to his disciples.  We read that Jesus did feed people (see Luke 4:3-4).

Jesus is central.  The verses tell us of what he did and of what others did by the power of God.  However one may interpret feeding thousands of people with a small amount of food then having leftovers, the focus is on Jesus’s actions.  Attempts to rationalize these mass feedings by suggesting that people shared food they had brought with them shift the focus away from Jesus’s actions and miss the point.

A range of messianic interpretations existed within Second Temple Judaism.  (The Dead Sea Scrolls have discredited the old idea that one messianic interpretation was universal.  Nevertheless, that old idea has persisted, unfortunately.)  At the time of Christ, national deliverer was one of these hopes.  It was a common one, for understandable reasons.  The crucifixion was not part of most believers’ understanding of the Messiah’s role.  And the resurrection made sense only after the fact.

Taking up one’s cross–or having a cross to bear, alternatively–has become a trite statement.  “This must be my cross to bear,” one may say about an annoyance, for example.  In reality, though, taking up one’s cross indicates a reordering of priorities.  One should not seek self-fulfillment in indulging one’s ambitions and interests.  No, true fulfillment comes by loving self-sacrificially, as Jesus did.  How this plays out for each person may vary, according to circumstances.  If one is fortunate, one may not have to become a martyr.

Luke 8:27 makes sense if one interprets the Transfiguration (8:27-36) as fulfilling it, at least partially.  Otherwise, one must wrestle with objective reality.  Look around, O reader:  Do you see the fully-realized Kingdom of God around you?  I do not.  And I opt not to accept the easy answer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPINA NICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MINISTER TO THE POOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PRIEST AND MARTYR, CIRCA 351

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The Calming of the Storm, the Exorcism of the Gerasene Demoniac, a Healing, and a Raising from the Dead   Leave a comment

Above:  The Exorcism of the Gerasene Demoniac

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXII

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Luke 8:22-56

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The events of Luke 8:22-56 occur back-to-back in that Gospel’s chronology.  The three stories demonstrate Jesus’s power over nature, demons, illness, and death.

In ancient Near Eastern mythology, the deep represented chaos.  In Jewish theology, God created order from chaos in Genesis 1.  In Revelation 21:1, the heaven and the new earth had no sea.

However one interprets Luke 8:22-25, know, O reader, that St. Luke wanted people to know that Jesus was the master over storms and that the Twelve did not yet understand who Jesus really was.  The final detail, read in the context of Luke 8:19-21, does not flatter them.

Yet the Gerasene “demoniac” understood who Jesus really was.

I do not pretend to know what, in modern diagnostic categories, afflicted that Gerasene “demoniac.”  As I keep writing ad nauseum in this series, I, being educated in modern science, understand that certain conditions have organic, not demonic, causes.  In this respect, I know more than people did at the time of Jesus.  And I, having been in an ill-fated relationship with a mentally-ill woman for a about a decade, understand why those not educated in science mistook mental illness as evidence of possession.  These factors complicate my interpretation of Luke 8:26-39.  So be it.

I choose to focus on verses 38 and 39.

The man, healed of whatever had afflicted him, was grateful.  He begged to follow Jesus, who told him to return home and witness to what God had done.  Jesus’s instructions to would-be followers varied according to circumstances.  He told some to follow, others to go home, and one to divest himself of all wealth then to follow.  Yet Jesus had some wealthy followers whom he did not instruct to divest themselves of wealth.  And, oddly, in Luke 8:56, Jesus ordered the parents to keep an impossible secret.

What does Jesus tell you, O reader, to do?

Luke 8:40-56 weaves stories of two females–one a dead, young woman and the other a desperate woman with a hemorrhage.  The stories tell us of these figures, rendered ritually impure–one via corpse impurity and the other via genital discharge.  The corpse impurity also applied to everyone under Jairus’s roof.  We read of the holiness of Jesus destroying the causes of ritual impurity in the germane people.  We also read of Jesus restoring two females to their families and communities.

Who was Jesus?

That question continues as we keep reading the Gospel of Luke.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPINA NICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MINISTER TO THE POOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PRIEST AND MARTYR, CIRCA 351

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This is post #2650 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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Posted December 31, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Genesis 1, Luke 8, Revelation of John 21

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Fidelity and Spiritual Community, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  Jesus and His Apostles

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXI

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Luke 8:16-21; 11:14-36

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In the Gospel of Luke, the Parable of the Lamp functions as an extension of the Parable of the Sower/the Four Soils.  Love and devotion to God accumulate within someone and draw others to God via that person.  The light shines.  Also, nobody has any secrets from God.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid:  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 355

The lamp in the parable had a spout, a cover, and a rounded body.  This was a small oil lamp.  It belonged on a lampstand, not under a bed or in a jar.  Theologically, a lamp stood for the light of God, shining in the darkness, in this parable.

The lamp is Jesus.  In other words, do not hide Jesus.

Luke 8:19-21, adapted from Mark 3:20-22, tones down the critique of Christ’s biological family.  In Mark 3, they think Jesus is out of his mind.  That, explicit in Mark 3, is absent in Luke 8.The Lucan version omits the relatives’ motive for seeking to speak with Jesus.  Therefore, the Lucan version presents them positively.  Nevertheless, the statement of fictive kinship carries over from the Marcan version.  The theme of hearing and doing, present in the Parables of the Sower/the Four Soils and the Lamp, continues here.  The biological family of Jesus functions as exemplars of hearing and doing in the Lucan version.

The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox insistence on the perpetual virginity of St. Mary of Nazareth puzzles me.  Of course, given that I reject the Virgin Birth, perpetual virginity predictably puzzles me.  In the Greek language, brothers and sisters can also be cousins.  Or they can be brothers and sisters.

The Marcan version of the story fits well with that Gospel’s theme that supposed insiders are really outsiders, and vice versa.  The Lucan version of the story is consistent with that Gospel’s toning down of the Marcan theme, given that the Acts of the Apostles follows the Gospel of Luke.  So, the eleven apostles who survived the Gospel of Luke could not be dolts if their transformation in Acts was to be believable.  Furthermore, the depiction of the biological family of Jesus in Luke 8 flows from previous material, in which St. Mary knew who her (firstborn) son was, Luke 2:39-52 notwithstanding.

The challenge to we of today is to be members of Christ’s spiritual family, that is, to hear the word of God (what God says) and to keep it.

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“Master,” said John, “we saw a man who was casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following with us.”

But Jesus said, “Forbid him not, for he who is not with you is for you.”

–Luke 9:49-50, Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

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“He who is not for me is against me, and he who is not gathering with me is scattering.”

–Luke 11:23, Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

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Critics of Jesus did not understand that God was acting through Jesus.  The healings Jesus performed indicated the presence of the Kingdom of God, not evil. Judgment would come for those who slandered Jesus.

Likewise, when Jesus had removed evil from someone, that person needed to become filled with the word of God (what God said), or else evil would return in greater quantity than it had been when Christ had expelled it.

Luke 11:27 calls back to 8:19-21.  Regardless of how blessed and pious Christ’s biological family was, those who listened to and heard the word of God were blessed, too.  Loyalty to God, present in Jesus, takes precedence over family ties–no disrespect to relatives intended.  This is good news for the vast majority of us not of the family tree of Jesus.

Cutting through the symbolism and Biblical allusions in Luke 11:29-36, the message of these verses is:

  1. Repentance is crucial,
  2. The faith of many Gentiles contrasts with the faithlessness of many Jews,
  3. God seeks to attract all people, and
  4. The Christian life involves the whole body and all human action.

Seeking signs indicates a lack of trust in God.  Receiving a sign and not understanding it indicates obliviousness, at least.  Recall the Johannine version of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6:1-14), O reader.  You and I may agree that it was an astounding sign.  Yet, recall the events of the next day, too.

Then they said to him:

“What sign, then, are you performing, so that we may see it and come to believe in you?  What work are you doing?  Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'”  

–John 6:30-21, Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

Those who asked that question had fined at the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

We need not seek signs; they are plentiful.  We need merely to pay proper attention, understand plainly, and behave and think accordingly, whoever we are.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WALLACE BRIGGS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN MAIN, ANGLO-CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH BOOTH, ENGLISH ORGANIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF FRANCES JOSEPH-GAUDET, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR, PRISON REFORMER, AND SOCIAL WORKER

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The Parable of the Sower/the Four Soils   4 comments

Above:  The Parable of the Sower

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XX

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Luke 8:4-15

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Christian tradition has assigned names to the parables of Jesus.  Some of these names have proven to be partial, at best.  Consider the Parable of the Prodigal Son, for example, O reader.  It could have as easily been the Parable of the Loving Father or the Parable of the Resentful Brother.  Think also of the Parable of the Sower.  Although Matthew 13:18 uses that label, Christ focused on the soils, not the sower, in the parable.

We are reading the Lucan version of the parable, of course.  Luke 8 does not refer to this parable as the Parable of the Sower.

Biblical scholarly consensus holds that, in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, the explanation of the parable is an addition to the text.  Explanations of parables are rare in the canonical Gospels.

To critique the sower’s technique is to miss the point.  (I have heard priests do this in sermons.)  The sower in the parable follows the standard practice of farmers at the time and place.

The word of God (what God says) is for everybody.  The sower sows these seeds everywhere, therefore.  But not everybody receives or welcomes this word.  Some of the seeds go to waste.  People may be distracted, rootless, or deceived.  Spiritually rootless people have shallow faith; it may die for the obvious reason.  The deceived mean well but follow the wrong master.  The distracted are too busy for God.  Yet the seeds that land in rich soil prosper spiritually.

The parable asks each of us, “What kind of soil are you?”

When God is the sower and we are the ground, we are called to be good ground.

–St. Augustine of Hippo

Some saints spoke and/or wrote of the importance of not only praying, but of becoming prayer.  They described the fourth category of soil in this parable.  They described the state of praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

So, I ask you, O reader, what kind of soil are you?  And what kind of soil do you aspire to become or remain, by grace?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WALLACE BRIGGS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN MAIN, ANGLO-CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH BOOTH, ENGLISH ORGANIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF FRANCES JOSEPH-GAUDET, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR, PRISON REFORMER, AND SOCIAL WORKER

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Jesus and Women   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Mary Magdalene

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XIX

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Luke 7:36-8:3

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We may blame Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” (reigned 590-604) for starting a dubious tradition in Biblical scholarship.  St. Gregory I was a great man.  He functioned as a Roman (Byzantine) imperial statesman, albeit reluctantly.  (Somebody had to do it.)  St. Gregory I launched the Roman Catholic mission to England.  Yet he conflated the unnamed prostitute in Luke 7:36-50 with St. Mary Magdalene (8:2).  This false assumption has tainted the reputation of St. Mary Magdalene since and contributed to the term “Madonna-Whore Complex.”

Luke 8:2 tells us that St. Mary Magdalene supported Jesus’s ministry financially.  That verse also tells us that Jesus had exorcised seven demons from her.  Other passages from the canonical Gospels tell of her dedication to Christ, all the way to the empty tomb.

I do not think as people did in the first century C.E did.  I understand, for example, that epilepsy, various physical conditions, and mental illnesses do not result from demonic possession.  They have organic causes.  Neither do I reject the existence of the demonic.  Nevertheless, I do not know how to interpret Luke 8:2.  I conclude, however, that, whatever Jesus did to help St. Mary Magdalene, he won a disciple when he did it.  That may suffice.

Each of the canonical Gospels contains a story of a woman anointing Jesus, usually as foreshadowing of the anointing of his corpse.  In three of the four accounts, the texts do not name the woman.  She is St. Mary of Bethany in the Gospel of John.  The traditional confusion of mistaking Sts. Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany for the same woman results from a combination of misinterpretations of germane texts.  In some stories, the woman (sometimes a penitent sinner) anointed Jesus’ feet; in others, she anointed his head.  Biblical scholarly consensus has settled on two anointings having occurred, and the story in the Johannine Gospel containing elements of both.

Limitless gratitude is common to both the woman in Luke 7:36-50 and the women in Luke 8:1-3.  Limitless gratitude does not care if its expressions seem to be or are bizarre, suspicious, and undignified.  Limitless gratitude goes as far as it needs to go, regardless of the costs.  Limitless gratitude deserves recognition, not scorn.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WALLACE BRIGGS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN MAIN, ANGLO-CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH BOOTH, ENGLISH ORGANIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF FRANCES JOSEPH-GAUDET, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR, PRISON REFORMER, AND SOCIAL WORKER

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Jesus and St. John the Baptist   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. John the Baptist

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XVIII

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Luke 7:18-35

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The doubts of St. John the Baptist may surprise many people.  These doubts do not surprise me, though.  Incarceration frequently sows the seeds of doubt and despair.  I, like Jesus, do not condemn St. John the Baptist.  No, I commend the great forerunner of Christ.

Chapter 7 is a fine example of how the Gospel of Luke is “an orderly account.”  The passage of time is vague in Luke 7.  An account of healing and an account of Jesus raising a widow’s son from the dead precede the arrival of the messengers from St. John the Baptist.  Then Jesus cites evidence, including Luke 7:1-17.  The two stories in 7:1-17 are fresh in the memories of an observant reader when that reader gets to verse 18f.

Some people refuse to be satisfied; they thrive on criticizing (in the negative sense of that word).  What ever one does or does not do, these critics will find fault with one.  Being this critical must be an unpleasant way to live, but many people prefer it.  Human psychology makes no sense sometimes.

Jesus and St. John the Baptist had to contend with such critics.  St. John the Baptist lived austerely and received criticism for doing so.  Jesus dined with people in their homes and received criticism for doing so.  These critics’ standards were inconsistent.

This situation reminds me of the Argument Clinic, one of my favorite sketches from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

I came here for an argument!

No, you didn’t!

Some people argue for the sake of arguing and criticize for the sake of criticizing.  In so doing, they do not contribute to understanding.  Yet maybe they reinforce their dysfunctional egos.

Jesus and St. John the Baptist made positive differences, though.  And their constructive lives led to their unjust executions.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS (TRANSFERRED)

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A Healing and a Raising   Leave a comment

Above:  Jesus Healing the Servant of a Centurion, by Paolo Veronese

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XVII

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Luke 7:1-17

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We read of two miracles in these verses.  We moderns think of miracles as violations of at least one law of nature.  We, heirs of the Scientific Revolution and its glorious child, the Enlightenment, have the category “laws of nature,”  a category unknown to people during the time of Christ.

They did have a category for extraordinary events, though.

One theme in the canonical Gospels is that the miracles of Jesus indicated the presence of the Kingdom of God.

The story of the Roman centurion’s slave refers to:

  1. his amicable relationship with Jews, and
  2. his faith.

This story fits to prominent Lucan themes:

  1. highlighting good Roman imperial officials, although the empire itself was at odds with God; and
  2. highlighting faithful Gentiles.

One can legitimately link Luke 7:1-10 to Acts 10:34-35:

Then Peter began to speak:

“Of a truth I begin to see quite plainly that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.

Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

The story of Jesus restoring the son of the widow of Nain ought to remind one of Elijah raising the son of the widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-24).  Jesus is greater than Elijah, we read.  1 Kings 17 tells us that Elijah had to stretch himself over the corpse three times.  Luke 17 tells us that Jesus used a few words.

Jesus is seen as “a great prophet” in the service of God’s people.  His ministry extends not only to the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, and the downtrodden, but even to those in the grip of death.

–Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (1981), 660

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS (TRANSFERRED)

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Posted December 29, 2021 by neatnik2009 in 1 Kings 17, Luke 7

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The Sermon on the Plain   Leave a comment

Above:  The Sermon of the Beatitudes, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XVI

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Luke 6:20-49

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If the FOX News Channel had existed in the time of Jesus, its “talent” would have lambasted Jesus.  The Woes (6:24-26) would have been examples of class warfare.  Jesus would have been a “woke” Social Justice Warrior–and probably a communist.  To quote a meme from a few years ago,

NO, BARACK OBAMA IS NOT A DARK-SKINNED SOCIALIST GIVING AWAY HEALTH CARE.  YOU’RE THINKING OF JESUS.

Jesus was a social revolutionary.  He comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.  He died for doing so.

The Gospel of Matthew has the Sermon on the Mount.  The Gospel of Luke has the Sermon on the Plain.  This is no matter; both sermons are literary constructs anyway.  Their importance is their content.  In Luke 6:20f, the poor are poor, the hungry are hungry, and the weeping weep.  Also, the wealthy are receiving their consolation, those with plenty to eat will go hungry, those who are laughing will weep, and those who are renowned will be like false prophets.  The Lucan reversal of fortune is in full swing.

Jesus taught in a particular context.  The vast majority of the population was desperately poor.  The wealthy had either build their fortunes or maintained their fortunes by exploiting the poor.  The middle class was small.  This model has remained current in much of the world, unfortunately.

The gap between the rich and the poor has been growing wider for decades in my country, the United States of America.  The Right Wing has long placed too high a value on property rights and too low a value on human rights.  The moral critique that the United States society needs to value people more than things has remained as valid as it was on April 4, 1967, when a modern-day prophet, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., uttered it in the Riverside Church, New York, New York.  The Right Wing detested him and suspected him of communism, too.

As Michael Eric Dyson correctly argues, the version of Martin Luther King, Jr., many White conservatives find non-threatening is a historical fiction.  King’s radicalism offers a stinging critique of many current conservative talking points.  King’s radicalism still comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

The teachings of Jesus continue to comfort and afflict simultaneously.  Loving enemies, for example, breaks the cycle of violence.  But hearing that we should love our enemies may afflict us.  Condemnations of hypocrisy apply to everyone, too.  Jesus continues to meddle in our business, as he ought to do.  We want God to comfort us and people similar to ourselves, but to smite “those people”–everyone else, those whom we have othered.  God loves them, too, of course.

As Christians we believe that what Jesus began with the call of the Twelve and the sharp-edged teaching of blessings and curses remains in force today.  This is the shape of the kingdom:  the kingdom which still today turns the world upside down, or perhaps the right way up, as much as it ever did.

–N. T. Wright, Advent for Everyone:  Luke–A Daily Devotional (2018), 17

The world is upside down when it ought to be right side up.  Are you, O reader, complicit in maintaining this disorder?  If so, the teachings of Jesus afflict you, as they should.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS (TRANSFERRED)

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