7th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 7th Sunday after Epiphany – 1st Sunday before Lent
I am aware that on this Sunday, many following the Revised Common Lectionary will be celebrating the Transfiguration with different readings. Please go to that linked post to add your reflections there. Roman Catholics and others will be using the following readings. New Zealand Anglicans had the option in their lectionary to celebrate the Transfiguration on this day, but that was stopped, without any explanation I can find, after 2005. Anyone who knows why that option was removed for the last four years, please add that in the comments also.
The context of this Second Isaiah section, addressing the Israelite audience living in Babylon towards the end of the exile (597-539BCE) is the previous verses (11-17):
11 I, I am the LORD (YHWH), and besides me there is no savior…
13 I am God, and also henceforth I am He; …
14 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: …
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.
16 Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; … (of whom Moses is an image)
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Many scholars consider 2 Corinthians to be a collection of fragments of possibly five letters to the Corinthians around a dispute. 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:13; 7:5-16 is possibly written after the dispute about what Paul terms “super apostles” (2 Corinthians 10:1-13:14).
Paul had broken his promise to visit Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:5). Middle Eastern culture of shame and honour requires one to answer a question, saying what I think you will want to hear. If I have no answer, I would be shamed. Hence I will give you one anyway. Your task is to work out if my answer is reliable. Paul’s broken promise, within this context, leads to doubting both the trustworthiness of Paul, and of his message. 1 Corinthians 1:23-22 is Paul’s attempt to justify not making his third, promised visit.
This is the fourth Sunday healing gospel in a row – each with a different emphasis:
Mark 1:21-28 An Unclean Spirit
Mark 1:29-39 A Fever
Mark 1:40-45 Leprosy
Mark 2:1-12 Paralysis
The Mediterannean gossip network is functioning effectively. Jesus “at home” is more “Jesus is now where everyone knows him” than a geographical statement. Mark’s “mat” (Gk krabattos) indicates the poor social status of the man (and probably of his community). He is upgraded in Matthew and Luke to having a “bed” (kline) – this may indicate a different social status of Matthew and Luke’s communities. The commitment of the community to its weak, poor members is highlighted.
“Do you believe in Jesus?” in my ministry context is regularly confused with “Do you accept that Jesus was actually a historical person?” Faith in the New Testament would be better translated as “commitment” or “loyalty”. It is the faith and loyalty of the group of friends rather than that of the sick man that leads to Jesus’ action.
They “dig through the roof” is an historically more accurate description of the design of the houses.
Rafid, located on the Golan Heights about 30 kilometers East of the Sea of Galilee, was destroyed in the Yom Kippur War and the subsequent military activities between Israel and Syria. It had numerous ancient buildings including examples of building styles typical during the Roman period. These were standing from foundation to rafters and had been thoroughly surveyed after the Six Day War by Dan Urman, Shmuel Bar-Lev, and Moshe Hartal. “Because of the scarcity of timber, the houses in Rafid were completely built of basalt, including the ceiling. Corbel stones projected from the walls and long basalt beams were laid across them with the resulting space covered by cross slabs. This was then covered with plaster to make it waterproof.” (see image; source).
“Which is easier, to say?”
1) actually it is just as easy to say one as the other
2) it appears easier to forgive sins – as that is an “invisible reality”
3) it is actually easier to have the man stand up, take up his mat and walk – as forgiveness is a much deeper reality.
Leviticus 21:16-24, Deuteronomy 23:1-2 highlights that in their context a lame person is excluded from God’s holy community. Disease focuses on the medical issues. Illness focuses on the social issues. We cure a disease. We heal an illness. Jesus first heals the paralytic. He addresses him as “son”. He is made a member of Jesus’ kinship group – the kindom of heaven (sic.) Upon the grumbling of the scribes Jesus cures the man as well. “Go home” – Jesus restores him to his own community.
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Don’t forget: each week I also publish a reflection on the collect/opening prayer.