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This Week's Commentary
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 5, 20152 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 | Ezekiel 2:1-5 | 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 | Mark 6:1-13 | Psalm 48 | Psalm 123
2 Samuel 5:15
The Old Testament lessons continue stories about David, King of Israel. Here we have one of the highlights of “the royal covenant, ”Y HWH’s covenant with the House of David as seen by the leaders of the tribes asking David him to be king. The text tells us that eventually he ruled over both Israel, the Northern Kingdom,, and Judah, the Southern Kingdom—united! This is the Golden Age, the Apex of the Kingdom’s greatness.
Readers are reminded of the difficulties, the judgment to come, following the death of Solomon, son of David: the breakup of the Kingdom o into North and South, culminating in its destructions by the Assyrians. There will also be lessons that reflect a different theology form the “official” royal theology, a moral tribal theology that was disturbed at Israel’s adoption of the monarchy: why have we need of an earthly king when have the God of the Universe as our King?
The psalm extols the beauty of —not by name—of Jerusalem, the (non-exclusive) dwelling place of God, sacred space. Amidst the beauty of the non-human world is the “hesed,” “the steadfast love” of God.
There is much here for the process oriented preacher: the themes and beautiful imagery of nature and their relationship to “hesed.” There is also the perennial question of what do you do when more than one people consider the same land sacred and there is not enough of the land to go around?
Here we have part of the calling/sending of Ezekiel as a prophet. He is to tell the people that they have departed in their hearts from God. In the prophetic tradition, turning away form God in one’s heart, the heart being the center of the human self was turning one’s very being from God. And there was empirical evidence for this: there was no knowledge of God in the land made plain by the widows and orphans not being taken care of.
This selection from the Psalms begins with praise and ends with an expression of pain and asking for help from YHWH. I t presupposes that the people have an interactive relationship with God in which we make a difference to God and, needless to say, God to us. God hears us—our joy and sorrow, good times, bad times. Rich material for process preaching.
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
The church at Corinth had been divided: some had received gifts of the spirit—healing , speaking in tongues, etc.—and had fallen prey to that all human a quality, thinking namely they are better than others. Paul makes reference to some physical impediment that God “gave” him to keep him from being boastful. To the process thinker , this suggests themes of divine determinism and control. Is that not arbitrary? Does really God us ailments. What kind of a God would do that?
Mark 6:1-13 The heart of Gospel of Mark is “the Messianic Secret.” That is to say, everything in the Gospel is shaped by the question of Jesus’ identity and mission. At first, Jesus teaches the people. They do not get it. As e result , he sends out the apostles two by two, shifting strategy. Neither they nor the people get it.
Finally, Peter gets it at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asks the apostles who do people say that he is. “And who do you say I am?” Peter says. You are the Son of the Living God!” What does he do, rejoice that Peter finally got it? No, he charges him to tell no one! There is something amiss here! Why does Jesus charge Peter with keeping Jesus’ identity a secret, especially after spending so much time getting the apostles to understand?
It is the “Messianic secret.” Who Jesus is revealed in his death and resurrection—the very climax to the gospel. Moreover, it is not his own who recognize him—not the people or the apostles but the Roman centurion.
Not only is Jesus the Messiah, one who is reviled and crucified, he is also the prototype for discipleship. The church at Rome to which Mark was writing, perhaps as s member was undergoing the first major Empire wide persecution of Christians. The gospel of Mark was designed to give them strength, to provide both a role model and a source of strength to resist the temptation to renounce one’s faith.
There are number of directions for a “process preacher” to go. Given the close identification of suffering and discipleship, this could be a theme, how we as individuals and communities are transformed by standing in solidarity with one another. The interracial dimensions are inviting the preacher.
Or, are we, in ou times, more tempted by complacency?
Jesus changing strategy to get the message out suggests freedom and spontaneity, creaturely and divine and the inter play between. This passage would provide a great opportunity for a thematic exploration of the topic.