my miscellany

Pentecost 11, 2022 — 21 Aug 22

Pentecost 11, 2022

Moses Receiving the Law; Jesus Healing a Woman, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=51193 [retrieved August 18, 2022]. Original source: Prof. Patout J. Burns and Prof. Robin M. Jensen, rjensen3@nd.edu.

RCL Year C Proper 16 (Alternate Readings)
Isaiah 58:9b-14, Psalm 103:1-8, Hebrews 12:18-29, Saint Luke 13:10-17

“You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” This commandment is to be found three times in Exodus and Deuteronomy.[1] The commandment is the source of many dietary laws, including the laws separating consuming meat and dairy to different days of the week and separating the vessels used for cooking and serving meat and dairy. The laws represent a human effort to implement the Law of Moses thought to be the Law of God.

The Law of Moses also includes this commandment: “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy,”[2] the fourth of the Ten Commandments. In today’s Gospel, the leader of the synagogue refers to it when he says, “[t]here are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”[3] Actually, the leader of the synagogue indirectly quotes from Exodus the verse after the commandment itself.

The Sabbath Day, of course, is the seventh day of the week, or Saturday, the day on which God rested after creating the heavens and the earth on the first six days of the week. In my apartment building, some do not carry door keys or turn them on the Sabbath. Similarly, they do not make a fire by using electrical switches, door bells, or elevator buttons. Along with the example Jesus uses of untying an ox or donkey to water it, these all are attempts to implement the Law of Moses thought to be the Law of God.

In the Gospel, the leader of the synagogue seems to warn the crowd, whose member was cured; he warns the crowd against being cured on the sabbath. But, of course, his argument really is with Jesus rather than with the crowd or with the woman Jesus cures.

And so the cure brings out into the open the conflict that is developing in the Gospel of Saint Luke between the religious leaders and Jesus. The leader of the synagogue does not believe that Jesus is God, but that is Who Jesus is telling him He is. As God, Jesus is correcting a human effort to implement the Law of God, particularly regarding the sabbath. In Saint Mark’s Gospel, as you know, Jesus declares, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”[4]

The challenge for us Christians, I believe, is to develop and to increase our reverence for God. Our disciplines as Christians do not include acts of devotion (that I am aware of) that call for sacrifices on the order of walking to worship or walking up flights of stairs on our holy day. And if Jesus is the lord even of the sabbath (and I believe he is) our lives should reflect that. It is necessary that what we believe in our hearts, we sing, or say, with our lips, and we practice in our lives.

[1] Exodus 23:19 and 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21.

[2] Exodus 20:8.

[3] Saint Luke 10:14.

[4] Saint Mark 2:27.

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