Open Borders!

bordersBy Ched Myers, for the 14th Sunday of PENTECOST (MK 7:1-23)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

After a lengthy hiatus in John, the RCL gospel returns to Mark, though it piecemeals this Sunday’s text (I’ll read it whole, and suggest you do as well).
Continue reading “Open Borders!”

The Crossings

TabghaBy Ched Myers, for the 8th Sunday of Pentecost (Mk 6:30-34, 45-56)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

The lectionary melts down a little this week. On one hand, it inexplicably avoids the wilderness feeding (6:35-44), such that we get neither of Mark’s two versions of this tradition in Year B. Continue reading “The Crossings”

PROPHETIC GENEALOGIES AND THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

JtheBBy Ched Myers, for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost (Mark 6:14-29)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

This Sunday’s gospel is Mark’s account of John’s execution by Herod (that is, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilea and Perea from 4 B.C.E.-39 C.E.) This “flashback” belatedly explains the circumstances surrounding John’s arrest, which was reported in passing at the outset of the story (1:14). Mark tells us that Herod believes that Jesus is John coming back to haunt him (6:14-16). Insofar as Jesus took up the Baptist’s mantle (preaching repentance and the Kingdom of God), Herod is not wrong. But the disturbing implication for the king is that this proclamation persists despite his having gotten rid of one of its messengers, suggesting that there was a more serious popular movement to be reckoned with. It is to the sordid tale of John’s demise that Mark now abruptly turns.
Continue reading “PROPHETIC GENEALOGIES AND THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP”

WHAT IS EVANGELISM? STRANGER AT HOME, AT HOME AMONG STRANGERS

LessonsBy Ched Myers, the 6th Sunday of Pentecost (Mk 6:1-13) 

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

At this point in Mark’s narrative we are given some background on each of the three major “protagonists” of this story: Jesus (6:1-6), the disciples (7-13) and John the Baptist (14-29, the gospel for 7 Pentecost). These three episodes each concern “rejected prophets,” which opens up a central theme of the second half of the gospel: the cost of discipleship.

This narrative sequence begins with Jesus’ return “to his own country” (6:1). For a third time, he teaches in a synagogue on the Sabbath (see 1:21ff; 3:1ff), and for a third time he encounters opposition. But this time it is not from the authorities, but from his neighbors and kinfolk. They are suspicious of this local boy’s notoriety, objecting that he has no distinguished lineage (6:3). Because of the domesticating constraints of nationality, kinship and household expectations (6:4), the “prophet without honor” is unable to effect change in his hometown, and returns to his itinerant mission (6:5f).
Continue reading “WHAT IS EVANGELISM? STRANGER AT HOME, AT HOME AMONG STRANGERS”

“TALE OF TWO WOMEN”: The Priority of the Marginalized

Jairus DaughterBy Ched Myers, for the 5th Sunday of Pentecost (Mk 5:21-43) Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015. In Mark’s tale of the Gerasene Demoniac (Mk 5:1-20), Jesus brings dramatic liberation to a man “occupied” by the spirit of Legion (i.e. Roman imperialism) on the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. Frustratingly, this powerful story is again deftly avoided by the Revised Common Lectionary (but you can read my comments on it here in “Sea-Changes: Re-Imagining Exodus Liberation as an ‘Exorcism’ of Imperial Militarism” in Challenging Empire: God, Faithfulness and Resistance, edited by Naim Ateek et al, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center). Jesus then returns across the sea to “Jewish” territory (5:21), where the next episode dramatizes how the poor were given priority in the ministry of Jesus. Mark 5:22-43 is yet another example of “sandwich-construction,” which wraps a story within a story in order to compel the reader to interrelate the two. The setting of the first half of this narrative sequence seems to be the “crowd” itself (5:21,24,27,31). Jesus is approached by a synagogue ruler who appeals on behalf of his daughter, who he believes to be “at the point of death” (5:23). Jesus departs with him on this mission, and we fully expect this transaction will be completed. On his way, however, Jesus is hemmed in by the crowds (5:24). The narrative focus suddenly zooms in upon a woman whose condition Mark describes in great detail (5:25f) with a series of descriptive clauses: Continue reading ““TALE OF TWO WOMEN”: The Priority of the Marginalized”

A Storm Blowing From Paradise…

Pope Francis delivers his speech in St. Peter's square at the Vatican during his weekly general audience Wednesday, June 26, 2013.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis delivers his speech in St. Peter’s square at the Vatican during his weekly general audience Wednesday, June 26, 2013.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

By Ched Myers (4 Pentecost: MK 4:35-41)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

This Sunday’s gospel text is the poignant story of Jesus and his disciples caught in a storm at sea, which threatens to drown them. It is a profound, archetypal scenario that Mark narrates twice (again in 6:45-52). Because today is the day that Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on climate crisis is being published, I will focus on how this appeal addresses the storm that is Climate Catastrophe. A month from now I will return to Mark’s sea stories for Pentecost 8 (on which day the Lectionary inexplicably hops over the second boat journey in its piecemeal gospel selection, which we’ll rectify!). Continue reading “A Storm Blowing From Paradise…”

Sowing Hope

Doing the work at the Abundant Table Farm Project in Santa Paula, CA.
Doing the work at the Abundant Table Farm Project in Santa Paula, CA.

By Ched Myers, for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost (Mark 4:26-34)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

This week the lectionary gives us the last third of Jesus’ parables sermon (hopping over the famous parable of the Sower and its allegorical interpretation, Mk 4:2-23). This section begins with a sober warning:

And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear: ‘The measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away’.” (Mk 4:24-25)
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“BINDING THE STRONG MAN”: Jesus’ Master Metaphor

BindingBy Ched Myers, for the 2nd Sunday of Pentecost (Mk 3:20-35)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

The first major narrative cycle in Mark’s gospel (1:16-3:6) ends with Jesus’ rejection by the authorities in a Capernaum synagogue. The following episodes serve to regenerate the story by a withdrawal and summary scene (3:7-12) and then by a reconsolidation moment (3:13-19a). The latter mountaintop scene boldly re-contextualizes two of the most revered traditions of Israel: God’s covenant with Moses on Sinai, and Moses’ founding of the free tribal confederacy in the wilderness. Jesus, who has taken the torch from the prophets, prepares to pass it on to twelve disciples he has called, named, and commissioned to proclaim, heal and exorcize (3:14f). Shortly they will be sent out to practice this charge – a second regenerative episode that follows upon another synagogue rejection (6:1-13). Continue reading ““BINDING THE STRONG MAN”: Jesus’ Master Metaphor”

Pentecost: Divine Polyculture vs. Imperial Monoculture (Genesis 11 and Acts 2)

pentecost1By Ched Myers

Note: This is part of an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

How is it that we heard, each of us, in our own native tongue?
Acts 2:8

Since the dawn of colonization, the Americas have been defined by the struggle between dominant culture ideologies of conformity imposed by those in power, and grassroots cultural diversity among those on the margins. This tension between fantasies of racial supremacy and realities of racial diversity remains one of the supreme challenges facing the U.S., and thus our churches, today. The future of North American society depends upon our ability to live peaceably and justly with human diversity — and the same can be said of the human experiment as a whole. The question is whether we can, in church and in society, forge models of coexistence-with-congruence rather than unity-by-uniformity.
Continue reading “Pentecost: Divine Polyculture vs. Imperial Monoculture (Genesis 11 and Acts 2)”

“Who Will Roll Away the Stone? A Meditation on Mark’s Easter Story”

MyersTopBy Ched Myers

Note: This year Easter (Apr 5) falls close to the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination (Apr 4). This is an abridged excerpt from the conclusion of Who Will Roll Away the Stone? Discipleship Queries for First World Christians (Orbis, 1994); it appeared in Sojourners (April 1994, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 20-23; King pictures added).
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VERY early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, Mary, Mary, and Salome went to Jesus’ tomb (Mark 16:2).

Sooner or later, we who have tried to follow Jesus find ourselves weary and broken like the Galilean women, on our way to bury him. It is the morning we awake to that inconsolable, aching emptiness that comes only from hope crushed. This dawn does not bring a new day, only the numb duty of last respects. Continue reading ““Who Will Roll Away the Stone? A Meditation on Mark’s Easter Story””