Are you ready?

During the recent NCAA basketball tournament, it was interesting to see South Carolina makes its run all the way to the Final Four. The coach, Frank Martin, just seems to me to be a wonderful blend of “old school” and yet able to connect so closely with his players. I can only imagine what his halftime speeches were like. I also suspect they were straight forward – “you’re ready,” “you know what it yours to do.” I am sure there were X’s and O’s, but at the heart of it all, he pointed to the road that brought them to this point in time, he reminded them what they had achieved, that they were prepared, and to now it was time to answer the call. “You are ready!” Continue reading

Advertisements

Crucifying the King: Context

English: Stained glass window at the Melkite C...

Luke 23:35-43. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. 34 (Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”) They divided his garments by casting lots. [The above is not part of the Sunday reading, but is generally considered within the narrative.] 35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Context. Here on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time the Church celebrates Christ the King Sunday. The title is given several places in Scripture:  king of ages (1 Timothy 1:17), King of Israel (John 1:49), King of the Jews (Mt. 27:11), King of kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev. 19:16), King of the nations (Book of Revelation 15:3) and ruler of the kings of the Earth (Rev. 1:5). The solemnity has been celebrated on the Roman calendar since 1925 and was instituted as a culmination of the liturgical year and a reminder that in His suffering and death, Christ ascended to his throne. Continue reading

Counting costs: the cross

how much - question in letterpress typeCarry His Own Cross.  27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. The expression carry his own cross is a metaphor of discipleship. In terms of dedication, one is to live as already condemned to death, “oblivious to the pursuit of noble status, find no interest in securing one’s future via future obligations from others or by stockpiling possessions, free to identify with Jesus in his dishonorable suffering” [Green, 566]. Continue reading

Counting costs: choosing

how much - question in letterpress typeJesus’ command of love makes it unthinkable that he commands hating one’s family all the while commanding to love those we do not know and are even our enemy. As Culpepper [292] notes, one should understand the Semitic hyperbole always uses stark differences so that the contrast is more clearly seen. The term misein (hate) denotes attitudes and modes of action rather than emotions. The point is not how one feels towards one’s parents, but rather one’s effective attitude when it comes to the kingdom.” This becomes clearer in 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters, he will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  This continues Luke 12:49-52 regarding division with the household caused by the proclamation of the reign of God. Continue reading

Counting costs: context

how much - question in letterpress type25Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, 26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? 29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ 31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple. Continue reading

Who and How We Serve

JesusServingBy faith…” Abraham went out from a land not his own to a place he and Sarah were to inherit. And in that long journey they continued to move forward, against all odds and sense, but always in faith. That journey was not only of faith, but also of service. Three weeks ago our first reading was an example of how Abraham and Sarah welcomed three travelers with hospitality – and this but adds to the accounts of Abraham’s service – to his family and clan, to Lot and his family, to the King of Salem, and so many others. The story of Abraham’s life is a story told in the outlines of faith and in the outlines of service as discipleship. Continue reading

Why He Came: questioning

james-john-sons-of-zebedee35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?” 37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Asking Boldly. Even before the request is revealed, the very sound of the question seems brash: “whatever we ask.” It is as though they want a “blank check” from Jesus. Is it enthusiasm? Is it brazenness? Is it coming from a sense of “I deserve a reward for having followed you these many, many months?” Is it arising from a sense of “I have looked at the other 10 and we are the ones you should pick?” Hard to know, but in any event, Jesus simply asks them what they desire. Continue reading

Why He Came: context

serve-one-another35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?” 37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. 42 Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. 43 But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; 44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:35-45) Continue reading

Discipleship and Dialogue

Jesus-who-is-thisWhen the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue.” It is short verse, but one that I have admits tickles my imagination. I wonder what Jesus said? I suspect whatever Jesus had to say it was brimming with passion about the Kingdom of God, the Love of God, and the fulfillment of the promises of God in the covenants made with the ancestors. Maybe there were more specific comments and points – some no doubt controversial. Perhaps Jesus spoke about how God’s desire that all be saved was not limited to just Israel, but was available to all the world, even the hated Roman conquerors. That would have raised a few eyebrows and stated a few whispers. It might have been any one of a number of parables that would have challenged people in the core beliefs. The one we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan would have been shocking; to the Nazareth crowd there was nothing good about a Samaritan. “When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue.” I don’t think the people came that day expected to be riled up. Continue reading