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Wrestling with the Word, episode 76: Lectionary 10 (2 Pentecost), Year C (June 6, 2010) May 19, 2010

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Lectionary 10 (Second Sunday after Pentecost)

In the chaotic and threatening times in which we live, some people long for the good old days when things were stable and peaceful. Some even say it was more obvious in those days that God was in heaven and all was right with the world. Strikingly, the biblical witnesses seem to have looked at life in quite the opposite way. When God stayed in heaven, life on earth was painful, even lamentable. God’s absence caused the afflicted and oppressed to cry out for help. When God showed up on the earth, things became topsy-turvy. Lamentation turned to rejoicing. Enemies became friends. Mourners became dancers. Judges and rulers became judged and ruled. Outsiders became caregivers. Outcasts were included. And death was transformed into life. Oh, for the good old days!

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 76: Lectionary 10 (2 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 30
In spite of the initial words that attribute the psalm to the purification of the Jerusalem Temple in 164 B.C., the psalm is an individual thanksgiving in response to an individual lament. Verses 6-10 articulate the lament and the situation in which the worshiper had experienced. The summary of that suffering appears in verses 1-3: troubled by enemies, the psalmist cried to the Lord for help, even from the depths of Sheol, and the Lord heard and healed. In verses 6-10 the lament is described in more detail. Because of the psalmist’s arrogance over prosperity, the Lord hid away (see Pss. 10:1; 27:9; 55:1; 104:21), a truly “lamentable” situation. In response to the cries for the Lord’s help/strength, the Lord dressed up the petitioner for a new occasion—party clothes instead of mourning garments. In expressing gratitude for this divine response, the psalmist recognizes that the Lord’s deliverance served the purpose of opening his lips to give God thanks and praise (v. 12). The grateful petitioner, therefore, encourages the “faithful ones” gathered in the temple to join in the praises and thanksgivings to the Lord (v. 4).

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1 Kings 17:17-24
In response to the prophet’s plea for the dead widow’s son, the Lord extends mercy to the non-Israelite family who recognize the faithfulness of God’s word in the prophet.

Context
After predicting a drought in the land, Elijah heeded the word of the Lord and went to Zarephath in the vicinity of Sidon.  There he sojourned with a poor Canaanite widow and provided for her and her family a never-ending supply of meal and oil. That section of the story ends with the narrator’s remark that the miracle occurred “according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah” (v. 16).

Key Words
V. 17.  nešāmā = “breath”:  The same word appears at Gen. 2:7 when God breathes into the nostrils of Adam..

V. 18.  ma-llî wālāk = “what to me and to you” (LXX:  ti emoi kai soi):  The expression is usually used by one who is threatened by another:  “what do we have to do with each other?”  See Judg. 11:12; 2 Sam. 16:10; 19:22; 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Chron. 35:21.  In NT see Mark 1:24//Luke 4:34; Matt. 8:29; John 2:4.

V. 21.  nepheš hayyeled = “the life of the boy”:  In Hebrew the word nepeš (sometimes translated “soul”) refers to the whole living body and is sometimes used for “life” itself.

V. 24.  ûdebar-YHWH bepîkā ’emet = “and the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth (or truthful).” The expression indicates that the woman came to realize that Elijah was a prophet because the word of the Lord he had spoken came to pass. The effectiveness of God’s word distinguishes YHWH from the idols, probably even the gods the woman had been worshiping (see Isa. 44:6-8).

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Galatians 1:11-24
Against the distortion of his teachings by those followed him to Galatia, Paul insists that God called him and Christ instructed him in the truth of the gospel in order that God might be glorified.

Context
After the salutation of his letter, Paul moves immediately to the issue at hand:  the Christians of Galatia are “deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel” (v. 6).  Apparently after Paul’s initial visit there when he formed the Christian community in Galatia, some others followed him preaching and teaching a different message:  to the gospel of Jesus Christ must be added the Jewish law and the rite of circumcision.

Key Words
V. 11.  ouk estin kata anthrōpou = “is not human (in nature or origin):  Compare kata anthrōpon at Gal. 3:15; Rom. 3:5;  1 Cor. 3:3; 9:8; 15:32.

V. 13.  hoti kath’ hyperbolēn ediōkon = “that with violence I persecuted”:  See also 1:23; 4:29:5:11; 6:12.  The last reference implies the Christian responsibility to be persecuted for the cross of Christ (see Mark 8:34 and parallels).

Vss. 15-16.  eudokēsen [ho theos] …  apokalypsai ton huion autou en emoi = “God was pleased … to reveal his son to me”  For other cases where God is “pleased,” see Luke 12:32; 1 Cor. 1:21; Col. 1:19; cf. Psalm 40:13.

V. 15.  ho aphorisas me = “the One who set me apart”:  The word appears also at 2:12 but in terms of Peter’s withdrawing from Gentiles.  In LXX the term translates the Heb. verb qdš = “to be/make holy.”  It refers to the setting aside of objects (Exod. 19:23 and often) and persons like Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5) for divine purposes.

V. 15.  ek koilias mētros mou = “from the womb of my mother”:  See similar callings in the reports of the Servant of the Lord ( Isa. 49:1) and Jeremiah ( Jer. 1:5).

V. 16.  euangelizesthai auton = “proclaim him as the good news”:  For Christ as the content of the gospel, see Rom. 1:2-5; 16:25-27; 2 Cor. 1:19; Phil. 1:15.

V. 20.  hoti ou pseudomai = “I do not lie”:  Recall 2 Cor. 11:31, also citing God as witness; cf. 1 Thess. 2:5. Perhaps the statement of the woman to Elijah provides another parallel (1 Kings 17:24).

V. 24.  edoxazon en emoi ton theon = “they glorified God in (because of) me”:  Recall the words of the Servant of the Lord(  Isa. 49:3) and his role to “be a light to the nations (v. 6). Indeed, according to Acts 13:47, Paul quotes Isa. 49:6 as the explanation of his role in God’s mission to the gentiles/nations.

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Luke 7:11-17
In response to the grief of a mourning mother, Jesus Christ raises her son from the dead with the result that the people glorify God and recognize in Jesus the presence of God.

Context
Following the story about Jesus’ healing the centurion’s servant who was near death (vv. 1-10), Jesus enters the town of Nain where he meets the funeral procession for a young man who had died.  The two stories (and this one in particular) pave the way for the question which the disciples of John bring to Jesus in verses 18-23.

Key Words
V. 12.  monogenēs huios = “the only son”:  cf. another such son at 9:38; used of Christ as John 1:18.

V. 12.  chēra = “widow”:  See 4:26 where Jesus refers in his sermon to the widow of Zarephath, the story in our first lesson (1 Kings 17).

V. 14. hēpsato tēs sorou = “touched the bier”:  note the ancient view that proximity to a dead body defiles; cf. Num. 6:9-12; Sirach 34:25-26.

V. 16.  ēgerthē = “has arisen”:  The same word appears in Jesus’ command to the dead man at v. 14. Jesus, therefore, speaks a word that comes to pass.

V. 16.  epeskepsato ho theos ton laon autou = “God has visited his people”:  The statement appears in Zechariah’s prophecy at 1:68 in connection with God’s redemption. The noun form appears at 19:44 for God’s judgment. In the OT the expression appears in connection with both salvation and judgment.