Proper 8, Year C
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
I'm back from an unexpected and quite exhausting out-of-state trip. I apologize for not posting on this week's gospel -- a particularly challenging one -- earlier. This Sunday's gospel shows a man telling Jesus that he wants to stay to "bury" his father before leaving to follow Jesus. The man does NOT mean that his father has died already and that he needs a day or two to make funeral arrangements. He is saying that he has a duty as a son to care for his father in old age, to see that he has what he needs while he's alive and that he gets an honorable burial once he does die. And Jesus tells this man to "follow me, and let the dead bury the dead." Jesus instructs a man to abandon his family. This is serious stuff, and it deserves to be taken up from the pulpit in parishes -- most especially in this age in which being a "Christian" is supposedly synonymous with "family values" that are identical with those held by respectable people in our culture.
Please see my brief entry specifically on Luke 9:51-62 here, the theme of our cultural "family values" being in tension with discipleship that I treat at greater length here and here. I think that will help preachers for this Sunday. The bottom line is that we've got a profound "teaching moment" in this combination of gospel and epistle. Our passage for this Sunday from Luke underlines that our family is all our sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ, and as human beings our family is all in the human family, as we're all God's children. As counter-cultural as it was and is, Jesus taught (and lived) that we are called to care about and for EVERY mother or father and EVERY child as we would care for our own mother or father or son or daughter. ALL of our relationships are to generate the fruit of the Spirit; there is no one who because of a lack of ties of blood or marriage or our assessment of "deserving" toward whom we are licensed to behave with "enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy," to quote a particularly challenging part of Paul's catalog of behaviors uncharacteristic of those who "live by the Spirit."
And please also know some good news for the lectionary blog; after a long time in which my schedule was heaviest in the earlier part of the week and trips like the one this week were all too frequent, I'm entering into a summer that's largely unstructured, and even after that my schedule will be quite different from what it was over the last academic year. In short, I intend to return to my tradition of blogging the lectionary on Monday or very close to it. I appreciate your patience as it's drifted later in more recent times, and hope you find the blog all the more helpful when I post earlier.
Thank you - challenging indeed but as you clearly show being a Christian is not a worldy quality and requires we display 'other worldly' qualities. If Jesus is the window into the heart of God,(and He is) then we know this is how we as Christians are to live. Jesus summary of the commandments does not make mention of family but God and neighbour - and self! If we the church - and I by this I mean me too could only get this right more and more discipling would be so much easier
Posted by: Stephen | Jun 30, 2007 2:51:46 PM
Sorry this time with punctuation.!!Thank you - challenging indeed, but as you clearly show being a Christian is not a worldy quality and requires we display 'other worldly' qualities. If Jesus is the window into the heart of God,(and He is) then we know this is how we as Christians are to live. Jesus summary of the commandments does not make mention of family, but God and neighbour - and self! If we the church - and I by this I mean me too- if we the church could only get this right more and more, discipling would be so much easier. ANd as an after thought perhaps the Anglican communion would get on better!
Posted by: Stephen | Jun 30, 2007 3:20:22 PM
Thank you for continuing to to write thoughtful, scholarly, engaging commentary about the scriptures. I'm sorry I couldn't be in Michigan for the U2 extravaganza. Glad to hear that it went well.
Posted by: Jennifer Walters | Jul 8, 2007 9:53:17 AM