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Wrestling with the Word, episode 64: Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C (March 14, 2010) February 28, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Fourth Sunday in Lent

Let’s talk about God. What kind of God do we worship? That question is by no means frivolous. In fact, it is a matter of life and death, because the kind of God that we worship determines how we live our lives, how we face our deaths, and how we laugh with God through it all. As Jesus told the Parable of the Prodigal Son, he raised our sights above the standards of religion to envision a waiting Father ready to throw a party.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 64: Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C.


Psalm 32
The psalm is a combination of two different genres. The first eight verses make up a song of thanksgiving. That expression of gratitude results from the psalmist’s personal reflections on his own sinfulness and his ultimate confession of guilt, after which the Lord forgave him. The second part focuses on Wisdom themes. The personal experience expressed at the beginning leads the psalmist to instruct others so that they too might relinquish their autonomy and submit their wills to the Lord. The conclusion exhorts others to be joyful that the Lord is a God who shows covenant loyalty (chesed) to the people.


Joshua 5:9-12
Having fed the people with manna during their long sojourn in the wilderness, the Lord brought them into the land of Canaan where they could celebrate the Passover with produce from the land of promise.

Having assumed leadership of the people upon the death of Moses, Joshua led the people across the Jordan River by the same means Moses had used to cross the Red Sea: drying up the river so that the people could pass over on dry ground. Now into the land of Canaan, Joshua circumcised all the males who had not been circumcised during the long journey. That necessity for the ritual seems to be the reason for the “reproach of Egypt” which YHWH rolled away.

Key Words
V. 9.  hayyôm gallôtî ’et-cherpat-mitsrayim mē‘aêkem = “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you”:  In light of the context, the reproach here is not the bondage that Egypt imposed upon the people of Israel but the fact that since the departure from Egypt, the children of the Israelites had not been circumcised.  The only other case in which uncircumcision itself is a reproach, i.e., shameful, occurs in the story about Dinah and Shechem in Genesis 34:14.

V. 11.  matstsôt = “unleavened bread/cakes”:  according to the rite for Passover, Israel was to eat such unleavened cakes for the seven days of Passover (see Exod. 12:15, 18, 20; 23:15; 13:6,7; Lev. 23:6, etc.


2 Corinthians 5:16-21
On the basis of God’s reconciliation of the world and of ourselves to him, we are a new creation entrusted with the message of reconciliation to others.

The apostle has finished his argument setting forth the idea that as fragile human beings we are bearers of the treasure of the gospel. He then proceeded to encourage the readers to live with the assurance of resurrection. Immediately prior to our pericope occurs the basis of the “therefore” that occurs in v. 16:  the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Key Words
V. 16.  apo tou nun = “from now on”:  The same expression at Luke 22:18, 69; 1 Cor. 7:29. Paul uses the expression nuni = “now” to indicate the difference between the former time and the new time. See Rom. 3:21; 5:9, 10, 11; 6:22; 7:6; 8:1, 22; 11:30; 13:11; 16:26; 1 Cor. 2:12; 4:5; 13:12; 2 Cor. 6:2; Gal. 3:25; 4:9. Here the transition from one time to the next is marked by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

V. 18.  tēn diakonian tēs katallagēs = “the ministry of reconciliation”:  At Rom. 5:11 reconciliation is, along with justification, our present gift while we wait for salvation from the wrath to come. At Rom. 11:15 the “reconciliation of the world” refers to the divine gift of going out to the Gentile world.


Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Far beyond the human concern for fairness is the joy of God over the return of the lost.

The beginning of the pericope cites the problem the Pharisees and the scribes had with Jesus over his dining with sinners. The reference thus links directly to the previous chapter where Jesus, invited to dinner in the home of a Pharisee, took advantage of the opportunity to instruct the other guests in how to pick their seats and to reconstruct the host’s invitation list to include the poor. That discussion led to the parable about the man who invited many guests to a banquet and none of them came.

Scheme of LOST: FOUND: JOY

15:4-7:  Parable of the Lost Sheep

15:8-10: Parable of the Lost Coin

15:11-32 Parable of the Prodigal Son

Key Words
V. 2.  diagogguzein = “murmur, complain”:  The word appears in Luke here and at 19:7.  On the other hand, it occurs often in LXX for Israel’s “murmuring” against God and against Moses in the wilderness (Exod. 15:24; 16:2, 7, 8; 17:3; Num. 14:2, 36; 16:11; Deut. 1:27)..

V. 20.  esplagchvisthē = “had compassion”:  The word describes the feeling of the Good Samaritan in that parable (10:33), of the Lord in the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:27), of Jesus at seeing the grieving widow of Nain (Luke 13).  Like the corresponding Hebrew words, the verb derives from a noun meaning “inward parts,” i.e., the seat of the emotions

V. 32.  dei = it is necessary”:  The word of necessity is common in Luke:  2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 13:16, 33; 17:25; 19:5; 22:37; 24:7, 26, 44. All the passages tell of the necessity of fulfilling the mission of God.