Archive for the ‘Triumphal Entry’ Tag

Wholeness in God, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  Zacchaeus

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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O Almighty and most Merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness keep us,

we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us;

that we, being ready, both in body and soul,

may cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldst have done;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 220

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Isaiah 44:21-28

Psalm 122

Ephesians 4:17-32

Luke 18:35-19:10

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The textual context of the reading from Luke is the verge of Holy Week.  Luke 19:28-38 recounts the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Jesus was approaching Jericho in 18:35-43 and in Jericho in 19:1-10.  Reading these two stories together makes sense both thematically and narratively.

These are stories of healing and wholeness.  The beggar was blind and desperate for healing.  Zacchaeus, aware of his spiritual failings, sought to see Jesus, if only from a distance.  Perhaps Zacchaeus, a literal tax thief and a Roman collaborator, needed the push that Jesus provided to take the next step.  Zacchaeus moved from remorse to repentance.  He made plans to pay restitution at the rate of 400%, higher than the 120% rate Leviticus 6:5 required.  Zacchaeus chose to pay the rate of restitution for a slaughtered or sold sheep (Exodus 22:1 and 2 Samuel 12:6).

One may assume safely that Zacchaeus kept his word.

Healing and wholeness may be individual (as in Luke 18:35-19:10) or collective (as in Isaiah 44:21-28 and Ephesians 4:17-32).  Forgiveness of sins may also be individual (as in Luke 19:1-10) or collective (as in Isaiah 44:21-28).  Either way, renewal in mind and spirit is essential; healing and wholeness are impossible without this renewal.

Another feature common to Luke 18:35-43 and 19:1-10 is the intervention of Jesus.  The blind beggar was crying out for Jesus, but members of the crowd scolded him and told him to be quiet.  Jesus responded to the blind beggar, though.  And Jesus noticed Zacchaeus, spoke to him, and visited his house.  Oh, the scandal!  These acts were typical of Jesus, of course.

Who are you most like in Luke 18:35-19:10, O reader?  Are you most like the people scolding and shushing the blind beggar?  Are you most like Zacchaeus, trying to see Jesus without attracting attention to yourself?  Are you most the people scandalized that Christ visited the home of a notorious sinner?  Or are you most like Jesus, going where needed and acted as an agent of grace, healing, and wholeness?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES MONTGOMERY, ANGLICAN AND MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DIET EMAN; HER FIANCÉ, HEIN SIETSMA, MARTYR, 1945; AND HIS BROTHER, HENDRIK “HENK” SIETSMA; RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS

THE FEAST OF JAMES RUSSELL MACDUFF AND GEORGE MATHESON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND AUTHORS

THE FEAST OF SARAH JOSEPHA BUELL HALE, POET, AUTHOR, EDITOR, AND PROPHETIC WITNESS

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What Kind of King?   4 comments

Above: Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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For Palm Sunday, Year 1

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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Almighty and Everlasting God, who hast sent thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,

to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross,

that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility;

mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience,

and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 157

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Zechariah 9:9-14

Psalm 24

Galatians 2:16-21 or 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Luke 19:29-44

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The readings for Palm Sunday, taken together, present a contrast between expectations and immediate reality.

The prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-14 is of the Messiah returning on the Day of the Lord.  (The text was surely in the minds of many supporters and opponents of Jesus during the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus was NOT keeping a low profile.   The week of Passover was a dangerous time not to keep a low profile in Roman-occupied Jerusalem.)

Psalm 24 is a liturgical text for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant.  The text contains parts for two alternating choirs.  Perhaps one could not get more triumphant than such a formal procession for a very long time, certainly pre-Easter 29 C.E. or so.

Yet the Romans remained in power for centuries after that day.  In that manner, they won, or seemed to win.  On the other hand, Jesus did not remain dead for long.  In that regard, the Roman Empire lost.

If one answers that all Jews of the time shared one Messianic hope, one errs.  Choose any population, O reader; you will find variation within it.  Nevertheless, if one thinks that the expectation that the Messiah would be a conquering hero was commonplace, one is correct.  This commonplace idea of Messiahship is one against which the Gospel of Mark argues.

What kind of king is Jesus?  He is not the conquering hero.  And as Bishop N. T. Wright points out, Yahweh will be the king after the end of this age.  Jesus is the king of salvation, but Yahweh is the king of the ages.  The Western Church even observes Christ the King Sunday.

I understand the appeal of Messiah as conquering hero.  I also know one finds it in certain prophecies, including Zechariah 9:9-14.  That must wait, however.  For now, we have the Prince of Peace, who laid down his life to a violent power.

Does God confuse us by defying our expectations at times or even most of the time?  If so, we stand in the company of a myriad.  We can argue with God’s choices or we can revel in them, if not understand them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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Innocence   5 comments

Above:  A Crucifix

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Liturgy of the Palms:

Luke 19:28-44

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Liturgy of the Word:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:1-13

Luke 23:1-56

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Some texts are standard for Palm/Passion Sunday on the Humes lectionary.  The account of the Triumphal Entry varies from year to year; each of the four versions gets its year.  Likewise, the Gospel reading varies each year.  It is always the Passion, though.  The readings from Psalm 31, Psalm 118, Isaiah 50, and Philippians 2 are evergreen, though.

I focus on Luke 23:1-56 in this post.

The Gospel of Luke hits us over the head with Jesus’s innocence.  Christ’s innocence is a theme in 23:4, 14-15, 22, 40-42, and 47.  Whenever the Bible keeps repeating a theme, we need to pay attention to that theme.

The execution of Jesus was a travesty and an example of judicial murder.

There is an interesting moral and legal question:  Is it better for a court to convict an innocent person or to acquit a guilty person?  The answer is obvious:  the latter.  Innocence should always lead to the absence of a conviction, incarceration, and execution.  I gaze with moral horror at those who would ever approve of convicting any innocent person.

The crucifixion of Jesus has more than one meaning.  It is, for example, a component of the atonement; the resurrection equals the final act.  The crucifixion of Christ should also spur us on to affirm that convicting and punishing the innocent is never acceptable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/devotion-for-palm-passion-sunday-year-c-humes/

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The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant   2 comments

Above:  Saint John on Patmos, by the Limbourg Brothers

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 7:9-17

John 11:32-44

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Three of the four readings for this day come from the context of tribulation.  The other reading (Psalm 24) is a text composed for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant.

God is the King of Glory, as Psalm 24 attests, but appearances contradict that truth much of the time.  The apocalyptic tone on Isaiah 25:6-9 and Revelation 7:9-17 confirms the discrepancy between appearances and reality.  In John 11, with the story of the raising of Lazarus, immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (John 12).  Furthermore, the Gospel of John tells us, the raising of Lazarus was the last straw before the decision to execute Jesus (John 11:47f).

Despite the violence and other perfidy of the world, we read, God will remain faithful to the righteous and will defeat evil.  That will be a day of rejoicing and the beginning of a new age.  To be precise, it will be a day of rejoicing for the righteous and of gnashing of teeth for the unrighteous.

That day seems to be far off, does it not?  Perhaps it is.  I dare not add my name to the long list of those who have predicted the date of the parousia.  I do, however, rejoice that the Church Triumphant exists and constitutes that great cloud of witnesses surrounding the Church Militant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/devotion-for-all-saints-day-year-b-humes/

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Spiritual Blindness, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Numbers 13:1-2, 17-32 or 2 Kings 5:1-17

Psalm 71:1-12

Hebrews 11

Mark 10:46-52

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Proper faith is optimistic, not foolish.  It acknowledges difficulties and trusts in God.  Proper faith casts out improper fear.

The story of blind Bartimaeus (Son of Timaeus, literally) is instructive.  In the context of the Gospel of Mark, it immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11).  One may state that Bartimaeus to follow Jesus at a very difficult time.  The character’s physical blindness functions as a commentary on the spiritual blindness of the Apostles earlier in Chapter 10.  One may conclude that, for Jesus, healing physical blindness was easier than healing the spiritual blindness of people around him.

The most basic commandment of Jesus to take one’s cross and follow him.  The details of that order vary person to person, depending on who, where, and when one is.  The principle is timeless, though.

May God forgive all of us for our spiritual blindness and heal us, so that we may follow him as well as possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/devotion-for-proper-26-year-b-humes/

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Jesus as a Threatening Figure   Leave a comment

Above:   Triumphal Entry

Image in the Public Domain

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For Palm Sunday, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Almighty and everliving God, who gave thy Son to be a leader and servant of men:

grant that as he entered Jerusalem to suffer and die for us,

we may enter his world, follow his example, and, by his power,

live in obedience to thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 121

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Zechariah 9:8-10

Hebrews 12:1-6

Luke 19:29-44

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The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was an overtly political act with apocalyptic overtones.  He looked like the ideal Davidic king, who had already won, arriving for negotiations after a battle.  Romans may not have noticed the symbolism, but Temple officials were far from oblivious to it.

The old Presbyterian lectionary, by focusing on Palm Sunday, not Passion Sunday, permits us to focus on the Triumphal Entry, not treat it like a prologue to a Passion Narrative.  This narrow focus lets helps us to ponder whether we think of Jesus as a threat.  If we do, we need to take that sin to him and surrender it.  The portrayal of Jesus in the Gospels is of him as, among other things, an instigator and a trouble-maker for God.

Consider a hypothetical question, O reader.  Suppose your church is seeking a new priest or pastor.  One candidate stands out.  He or she argues with ecclesiastical authorities, dines frequently with disreputable people, has questionable credentials, transgresses societal norms often, and runs afoul of political authorities habitually.  Is he or she a feasible applicant for the job?

Think about it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Eschatological Ethics I: Living in Exile at Home   Leave a comment

Above:  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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For the First Sunday of Advent, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O God, whose throne is set eternal in the heavens:

make ready for thy gracious rule the kingdoms of this world, and come with haste, and save us;

that violence and crying may be no more, and righteousness and peace may less thy children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 117

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Zechariah 10:6-12

Romans 13:8-10

Matthew 21:1-13

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Reading of our Lord and Savior’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Advent may seem odd to some, but not to many members of the Moravian Church.  That denomination has a tradition of using the same liturgy for Palm Sunday and the First Sunday of Advent.  The theme of the arrival of the Messiah unites the two occasions.

The theme of being in exile at home unites Zechariah 10:6-12 and Matthew 21:1-13.  In this matter I acknowledge the influence of N. T. Wright, author of Jesus and the Victory of God (1996) on my thinking.

Zechariah is a book in two separate sections:  First Zechariah (Chapters 1-8) and Second Zechariah (Chapters 9-14).  First Zechariah is historically related to and concurrent with Haggai (both chapters of it), and dates, in its current state, from no later than 515 B.C.E.  Second Zechariah, from the late Persian period, dates, in its current state, from the middle 400s B.C.E.

The Persian Empire of that period was hardly an onerous taskmaster of Jews living within its borders.  There were ups and downs, of course, but Persians were, overall, much better to live under than the Assyrians and the Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians.  Nevertheless, in the context of the militarization of the western satrapies during the Greco-Persian wars and the slow economic recovery in the Jewish homeland, many Jews dwelling in their homeland must have felt as if they were in a sort of exile.  Where was the promised Davidic monarch prophets had predicted?

And where was the promised Davidic monarch in the first century C.E., when the Roman Empire ruled the Jewish homeland and a Roman fortress was next door to the Second Temple?  Roman occupation must have felt like a sort of exile to many Jews living in their homeland.

And where was the promised Kingdom of God/Heaven in 85 C.E. and later, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire in 70 C.E.?  The Kingdom of God was simultaneously of the present and the future–a partially realized reign and realm of God on Earth, but the Kingdom of Heaven was the promised fully realized reign and realm of God on Earth.  (I refer you, O reader, to Jonathan Pennington‘s dismantling of the Dalman consensus, or the ubiquitous argument that, in the Gospel of Matthew, “Kingdom of Heaven” is a reverential circumlocution.)

For that matter, where is the promised Kingdom of Heaven today?  We of 2018 live in exile while at home.  Only God can usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.

We can, however, live ethically, both collectively and individually.  Love, after all, is the fulfillment of the Law.  May we, therefore, strive to live (both collectively and individually) according to the Golden Rule, and not make a mockery of that commandment by citing doctrine and dogma to excuse violations of it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF EMILY HUNTINGTON MILLER, U.S. METHODIST AUTHOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF KATHARINA VON SCHLEGAL, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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A Faithful Response, Part III   1 comment

Above:  Triumphal Entry

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Liturgy of the Palms:

Matthew 21:1-11

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Eucharistic Liturgy:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:1-13

Matthew 27:1-66

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Rejoice, heart and soul, daughter of Zion!

Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem!

See now, your king comes to you;

he is victorious, he is triumphant,

humble and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He will banish chariots from Ephraim

and horses from Jerusalem;

the bow of war will be banished.

He will proclaim peace for the nations.

His empire shall stretch from sea to sea,

from the River to the ends of the earth.

–Zechariah 9:9–10, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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The author of the Gospel of Matthew invoked that image of the triumphant Messiah on the Day of the Lord when crafting the account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  The procession was just one parade into the city that day; there was also a Roman military parade.  The separation of religion, state, and oppression did not exist, especially in Jerusalem during the time of Passover, the annual celebration of God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.  At the first Passover animal blood prompted the angel of death to pass over the Hebrew homes and delivered Hebrews from the consequences of sins of Egyptians.

Two of the assigned readings seem ironic on Palm/Passion Sunday.  Isaiah 50:4-11, set in the context of the latter days of the Babylonian Exile, teaches that (1) the Hebrew nation’s suffering was just, and (2) righteous exiles accepted that.  Yet we Christians hold that Jesus was blameless, without sin.  The suffering author of Psalm 31 ultimately affirms trust in God.  Yet we read in Matthew 27 that Jesus perceived that God had forsaken him.  My analysis is twofold:  (1) Many passages of scripture prove to be appropriate for a variety of circumstances, and (2) much of the Biblical narrative is paradoxical.

Philippians 2 and Matthew 27, taken together, affirm the humility and obedience of Jesus.  We should follow Christ’s example, we read in Philippians 2.  That is a high calling, and perhaps a fatal one.

The vision of Zechariah 9:9-10 has yet to become reality.  Until then we must trust in God, despite how foolish doing so might seem, and persevere in humility and obedience to God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BEDE OF JARROW, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND FATHER OF ENGLISH HISTORY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALDHELM OF SHERBORNE, POET, LITERARY SCHOLAR, ABBOT OF MALMESBURY, AND BISHOP OF SHERBORNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT MADELEINE-SOPHIE BARAT, FOUNDRESS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE SACRED HEART; AND ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT MYKOLA TSEHELSKYI, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2018/05/25/devotion-for-the-sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-a-humes/

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Types of Kingship   Leave a comment

Above:  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR PALM SUNDAY, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Almighty and everlasting God, who, of your tender mercy toward humankind

has sent your Son Jesus Christ to take upon himself our flesh,

and to suffer death upon the cross, that all people should follow the example of his great humility:

Mercifully grant that we may both follow the great example of his patience

and also be made partakers of his resurrection;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 100

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Zechariah 9:9-12

Psalm 20

Philippians 2:5-11

Luke 19:29-40

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The old Methodist lectionary from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) has two sets of readings for the same Sunday–Palm/Passion Sunday.  The older tradition is to treat the Sunday at the beginning of Holy Week as a synopsis of that week. Tailoring the observance of this Sunday is to be Palm Sunday–simply starting Holy Week–is what we have in this post.

The account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem a few days prior to his crucifixion draws upon Zechariah 9:9-12, in which the future Messiah, riding on a donkey, claims his kingdom.  The note of triumph is also evident in Psalm 20.  The future Messiah rides a donkey because that is the traditional mode of transportation for a victorious king after a battle, as he travels to negotiate.  The point is that Jesus looked every inch a victorious Messiah that day.

The reading from Philippians reminds us that much went badly for Jesus during the ensuing days.  St. Paul the Apostle quotes a hymn.  This fact indicates some degree of theological development by the late 50s or early 60s, when the Apostle composed this epistle.  When we add the reading from Philippians to the other pericopes we form a composite depiction of Jesus as a king of a sort–certainly not according to any earthly model.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Deeds and Creeds I   1 comment

Archelaus

Above:   Archelaus

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Merciful God, gracious and benevolent,

through your Son you invite all the world to a meal of mercy.

Grant that we may eagerly follow this call,

and bring us with all your saints into your life of justice and joy,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52

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The Assigned Readings:

Amos 5:12-14

Psalm 50

Luke 19:11-27

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“Consider this well, you who forget God,

lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.

Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me;

but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God.”

–Psalm 50:23-24, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The traditional title for the pericope from Luke 19 is the Parable of the Pounds.  That reading is superficially similar to the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), which teaches the imperative of diligence in the work of God.  In the case of Luke 19:11-27, however, the real point is quite different.

Textual context matters.  Immediately prior to the parable we read of our Lord and Savior’s encounter with Zacchaeus, a man who worked as a tax collector for the Roman Empire.  He was a literal tax thief, although, as we read, he changed his ways and made more restitution than the Law of Moses required.  Immediately after the parable Jesus enters Jerusalem at the beginning of that fateful Holy Week.  The story of Zacchaeus explains verse 11a (“As they were listening to this”); the context of the impending Triumphal Entry is crucial to understanding the pericope which Volume IX (1995) of The New Interpreter’s Bible calls “The Parable of the Greedy and Vengeful King.”

The nobleman in the parable resembles members of the Herodian Dynasty, especially Archelaus (reigned 4 B.C.E.-6 C.E.), son of Herod the Great (reigned 47-4 B.C.E.), Governor of Galilee then the client king of the Jews.  Herod the Great, who traveled to Rome to seek the title of king, reigned as one because the Roman Republic then Empire granted him that title.  He was also a cruel man.  Biblical and extra-Biblical sources agree on this point, constituting a collection of stories of his tyranny and cruelty.  In Matthew 2 he ordered the Massacre of the Innocents, for example.  Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, ruled as the Roman-appointed ethnarch of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria, after traveling to Rome.  Archelaus sought the title of King, which the Emperor Augustus denied him after meeting with a delegation of Jews.  Archelaus, mentioned by name in Matthew 2:22, was also cruel and tyrannical, victimizing Jews and Samaritans alike.  On one day alone he ordered the massacre of 3000 people at the Temple precinct in Jerusalem.  Eventually Augustus deposed him.  Herod Antipas, full brother of Archelaus, ruled on behalf of the Roman Empire as the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.E. to 39 C.E., when he sought the title of King and found himself banished to Gaul instead.  Antipas, a chip off the old block, ordered the execution of St. John the Baptist (Matthew 14:3-10) and sought to kill Jesus, who called the tetrarch “that fox” (Luke 13:32).

A trope in the interpretation of parables of Jesus is that one of the characters represents God.  That does not apply accurately to the parable in Luke 19:11-27.  In fact, the unnamed nobleman, who orders the execution of his political opponents, is an antitype of Jesus, who enters Jerusalem triumphantly in the next pericope and dies on the cross a few days later, at the hands of Roman officials.  The Kingdom of God is quite different from the Roman Empire, built on violence and exploitation.  The kingship of Jesus is quite different from the model that the Roman Empire offers.

Amos 5 condemns those in the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah who profess to follow Yahweh, yet oppose the establishment of justice, especially for the needy.  There is nothing wrong with religious rituals themselves, but engaging in them while perpetuating injustice makes a mockery of them.  God is unimpressed, we read.

God, in Psalm 50, addresses those who recite divine statutes yet do not keep them, who think wrongly that God is like them.  They will not find deliverance in God, we read.  That Psalm fits well with Amos 5, of course.  Then there are the evildoers who do not even pretend to honor God and do not change their ways.  Their path is doomed in the long run also.

One must reject the false dichotomy of deeds versus creeds.  In actuality, I argue, deeds reveal creeds.  One might detect a dichotomy between deeds and words, but, barring accidents, no dichotomy between deeds and creeds exists.

What do your deeds reveal about your creeds, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 1, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL STENNETT, ENGLISH SEVENTH-DAY BAPTIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN HOWARD, ENGLISH HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR, APOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILUS OF CAESAREA, BIBLE SCHOAR AND TRANSLATOR; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON OF SYRACUSE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/devotion-for-wednesday-after-proper-26-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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