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A Priestly Word — 15 Jun 18

A Priestly Word

On Sunday we continue our reading of II Corinthians (5:6-10 and 14-17) wherein St Paul describes the human condition from a specifically Christian viewpoint. In the first portion of the reading (5:6-9), we (all Christians) at home in our bodies “are away from the Lord” in a kind of exile until we are “at home with the Lord” (5:8). Separate from him, we “walk by faith, not by sight” (5:7) in confidence that “we make it our aim to please him” (5:9).

And, our confidence draws from the belief that in Christ’s death “one has died for all; therefore all have died” (5:14). “And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (5:15). Therefore, St Paul concludes, “we regard no one from a human point of view” (5:16), for “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (5:17).

As St Paul conceives the human condition of Christians, we are in a kind of exile that we endure by aiming to please him as a new creation until we find our eternal home with the Lord. In this journey our hopeful expectation is “being raised with him” so that we “may know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal glory” (The Book of Common Prayer, page 493). Hope in the Lord characterizes our life and urges us on to what will finally be.

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Pentecost 3, 2018 — 10 Jun 18

Pentecost 3, 2018

RCL Year B Proper 5
Genesis 3:8-15, Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13–5:1, Saint Mark 3:20-35

The Old Testament Lesson and the Holy Gospel today explain a lot about human nature and the human predicament. When we are strangers to ourselves, strangers to those we love, and strangers even to God, how do these things come to be? And what is the remedy?

You remember in the reading from Genesis that Adam and Eve hide from God; Adam blames Eve for this development; and Eve blames the serpent. They are strangers to themselves and to God. Their ancient foe wedged himself into all of those relationships and undermined those relationships by tempting Adam and Eve to disobedience. And they eat of the forbidden tree, and thus they eat of destructive disobedience.

And where is the remedy for them and for us? When we are divided from ourselves and are divided from God, who is there to heal that division? The answer, of course, is Jesus. In the Gospel, Jesus has been casting out demons, and the Pharisees believe that he does this because he has a demon himself.[1] But he hasn’t. He tells them that Satan cannot cast out Satan and that a divided kingdom cannot stand against itself. It takes God to cast out demons. It takes God to provide the unity that holds against attack. The answer then is the answer now.

You and I are reconciled to ourselves, to each other, and to God by doing the will of God. As Jesus says in the Gospel, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”[2] And everything is in place for us to do God’s will. God has so set things that we have only to do his will to put things right. At most every moment of our lives we have the freedom to choose to do God’s will or not to do it. We return to being the creatures God intends us to be when we do God’s will. May we in every choice we make choose the way of life, and may we be reconciled to God, to each other, and to ourselves.

[1] Saint Mark 3:22.

[2] Saint Mark 3:35.

Pentecost 2, 2018 — 3 Jun 18

Pentecost 2, 2018

RCL Year B Proper 4
Deuteronomy 5:12-15, Psalm 81:1-10, II Corinthians 4:5-12, Saint Mark 2:23—3:6

On this Lord’s Day, the first of many Green Sundays, we have Lessons about the Sabbath Day itself and keeping it holy.

We have the old Sabbath and the new Sabbath. Deuteronomy gives us the old: “the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.”[1] This is the Sabbath the Pharisees have in mind when they reproach Jesus as his disciples pluck heads of grain and as Jesus himself restores a man’s withered hand.

Jesus tells them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.”[2] Thus Jesus inaugurates a new sabbath, a sabbath marked by the priority of human need over religious observance. The disciples need the heads of grain for food, and the man with the withered hand needs two hands.

This new meaning shows God’s love for all of humankind, and God’s intention to provide what humankind needs. We rightly remember the sabbath by remembering this: that God himself worked on the new sabbath, the first day of the week, when Jesus rose from the dead. Every sabbath, every first day of the week reminds us of God’s gift of his Son to us and how in him we have hope “to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world.”[3]

May each of us remember always, and especially on Sundays, that God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said, * ‘Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.’”[4]

[1] Deuteronomy 5:14.

[2] Saint Mark 2:27.

[3] The Book of Common Prayer, page 861.

[4] Psalm 81:10.

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