This site provides something different: many sites and books provide a brief summary of the reading – so that people read out or have in their pew sheet an outline of what they are about to hear. They are told beforehand what to expect. Does this not limit what they hear the Spirit address them? This site provides something different – often one cannot appreciate what is being read because there is no context provided. This site provides the context, the frame of the reading about to be heard. It could be used as an introduction, printed on a pew sheet (acknowledged, of course), or adapted in other ways.
This story combines a “just so” story explaining why the people of Israel do not eat the hip muscle of any animal with a story of a river deity or spirit that comes out at night but flees at sunrise and the origin of the name-change from Jacob to Israel.
English retains the connection between eating and friendship/community in the word “companion” – one we eat (bread) with. In meals we are united with one another and with our host.
The “New Perspective on Paul” is a paradigm shift within New Testament scholarship since E. P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977). There had been an unfair caricaturing of Palestinian Judaism as legalistic works focused. James Dunn and NT Wright have built on this to move Romans 9-11 from the backwaters of biblical studies and this new context no longer supports an oversimplification of a Catholic-Protestant divide into works contrasted with faith.
Jumping from last Sunday’s Gospel reading to today’s may miss the context of today’s. Matthew Chapter 14 begins with a banquet hosted by King Herod. Today’s reading stands in stark contrast in environment, atmosphere, motivation, and result. The “deserted place” once again has Matthew alluding to another frame – Jesus the new Moses providing food in the desert.
Today’s readings online (link off this site)