２００３年１０月５日 聖霊降臨後第１７主日 （Ｂ年）
司祭 スコット マーレー
Let us first consider the Old Testament lesson this morning. What tone do you hear from the writer of Wisdom? He playing a bit of a devil's advocate, isn't he? And haven't we all thought that as well. Why should we be good? After all, being bad is where all the fun is at. "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die." I like "Let no flower of spring pass us by." And then the writer tells us, through the mouth of the "ungodly men" what is that bothers them so much about the righteous. "Inconvenient," "professes to have knowledge of God", "a reproof to us" But can you also sense in here a slight tone of arrogance on the part of the writer? So you feel like the writer of Wisdom sees no dialog, interaction between the godly and the ungodly, and seems to prefer it that way. More on this later as we look at the gospel.
The second reading is from James again, as we continue reading from this epistle during the season. And James answers that question we all ask at times, "why is there war?" My son actually asked me this on the way to church this morning. James says "Is it not your passions at war in your members? You desire and do not have...covet and cannot obtain...do not have because you do not ask." The beginning of peace and the end of war starts within us. It is not outside. It is inside. Do you want to be a peacemaker? Find peace inside first in your members.
Finally, we arrive at the gospel reading from Mark. And again, like last week, we have Jesus revealing his plans to his disciples who, again, are unable to comprehend. Once again, we can see the "secret" or "hidden" theme which runns through Mark. By secret, I don't mean a secret meaning or understanding. Rather, you get a sense in Mark's gospel that Jesus is playing his cards close to his chest. He heals people and commands them to tell no one. Keep secret. "Pray to your father in secret" he says again. And in this hiddenness is the denseness of the disciples. They continue to fail to get the picture, to get understanding. Everything Jesus says, does, and is is misunderstood by the disciples. "Who do people say I am?" They eventually get it right, but then Peter acts wrongly upon it.
In this morning"s gospel, he speaks again to them plainly, "but they did not understand the saying." In fact they get too caught up in arguing about who gets the top bunk in the new order. They still don't get it. And again, Jesus tries to make it plain by using a small child as the example they can see. "Receive and child in my name, you receive me." There, is that so hard? Can you get it?
Hmm. I wonder. Soon after the early believers began to gather and the ealiest form of the church was sprouting, the apostles decided that their time was better used by teaching and preaching, not waiting on tables. So they came up with the officeof deacons, ones who would serve the physical needs of the believers, allowing the apostles do more "important" work. I find this quite sad considering Jesus confronted Peter in a resurrection appearance, asking him three times to "feed his sheep." Did they get it or not? And do we get it or not? Receiving a small child is too easy. We want it to be more difficult, so at least some other people can't make it in. We need rules and regulations, dues and memberships lists...etc.
But Jesus offers us, offers everyone, something within
our grasp. Can you see the difference between Jesus and writer of Wisdom?
With which of the two would you rather spend time? Have you ever reflected
upon why Jesus spent so much time with "sinners" and that
they where always excited to be with him too? Would the writer of Wisdom
be comfortable with tax collectors? Are we comfortable with tax collectors?
For that matter, are they comfortable with us? It goes both ways. If
we truly want to be more like Jesus, one test will surely be the kind
of people who want to be around us. Think about that.