PALM SUNDAY AS SUBVERSIVE STREET THEATRE: SIXTH SUNDAY IN LENT (MK 11:1-11)

By Ched Myers

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.

Jesus’ long march to Jerusalem takes Mark’s story from the margins of Palestinian society (the Jordan wilderness and Capernaum in Mk 1) to its center. Arriving at the suburb of Bethany (11:1), Jesus prepares to enter the Holy City not as a reverent pilgrim demonstrating allegiance to the Temple, but as a subversive prophet challenging the foundations of State power. Mark 11-12 narrates Jesus’ second “campaign of direct action.” In the first campaign in Galilee (1:20-3:35) he confronted the status quo with his powerful actions of exorcism and healing. Now he takes on the Temple system and its stewards: the Jerusalem clerical establishment. This campaign, like the first, will culminate in polarization and rift, and will conclude with Jesus’ withdrawal to further reflect upon his mission in a second sermon about revolutionary patience (13:1ff; see 4:1ff). Continue reading “PALM SUNDAY AS SUBVERSIVE STREET THEATRE: SIXTH SUNDAY IN LENT (MK 11:1-11)”

Jesus’ “Second Call” to Discipleship

JesusPeter2By Ched Myers, For the Second Sunday in Lent (Mk 8:31-38)

Note: An ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.
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The midpoint of Mark’s narrative poses two questions, aimed both at the disciples in, and the readers of, the story:

“Do you not yet understand?” (Mk 8:21).

“Who do you say that I am?” (8:29a).

The latter provokes what I call the “confessional crisis” (8:30-33), which this Sunday’s reading inexplicably jumps into the middle of (we get the whole text on the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, Sept 13th). This is followed by Jesus’ second call to discipleship (8:34ff), deepening the journey begun in 1:16-20. Continue reading “Jesus’ “Second Call” to Discipleship”

Jesus On A Vision Quest

temptationBy Ched Myers, First Sunday in Lent (Mark 1:9-15)

Note: This is an ongoing occasional series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B.
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In Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism, the narrative is suddenly invaded by dramatic imagery. Jesus rises from Jordan’s waters to a vision of the “heavens rent asunder” (1:10). This is an allusion to Isaiah 64:1f:
Continue reading “Jesus On A Vision Quest”

“God is Like a Mountain” (Mk 9:2-9)

By Ched Myers, for Transfiguration Sunday (6. Epiphany)

Note: This is an ongoing occasional series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B.
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Without wildness, civilization could not survive. The converse does not hold.
Evan Eisenberg, The Ecology of Eden

The Feast of the Transfiguration probably dates back to the late Roman period. A major feast in the Eastern Church, it was not widely practiced until the 9th century by the Western Church. August 6th was designated as Feast of the Transfiguration for the whole church in 1456. The Roman Catholic Church today also commemorates the Transfiguration on the second Sunday in Lent, but the Revised Common Lectionary puts the story at the last Sunday of Epiphany, just before Lent. This is done in order to recognize the Transfiguration’s close relationship in the synoptic gospel narratives to Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem and the Cross.
Continue reading ““God is Like a Mountain” (Mk 9:2-9)”

What Would Happen if Jesus Came to Your Home?

ChedBy Ched Myers, Fifth Sunday in Epiphany (Mk 1:29-39)

Note: This is an ongoing occasional series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B.
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In Mark 1:28, Jesus retreats to a home from his confrontation with the “Powers” occupying the synagogue, having created space for change. In Mark’s story, the home seems to be a safe site (5:38; 7:17, 24; 9:33; 10:10; 14:3), in contrast to the synagogue and Temple as places of conflict. Such “politics of space” no doubt reflected the experience of the earliest church—or of any social renewal movement’s relationship with established institutions of control. In this case, we should note that Jesus avails the hospitality of a peasant fisherman, setting the pattern that will continue throughout this story: Jesus abides with the marginalized.
Continue reading “What Would Happen if Jesus Came to Your Home?”

Challenging the Status Quo: Jesus Contests Scribal Authority

Healing_of_the_demon-possessedBy Ched Myers, Fourth Sunday in Epiphany (Mk 1:21-28)

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

The first major narrative section of Mark’s gospel begins (1:16) and ends (4:36) by the shores of the Sea of Galilee. In it Mark paints a portrait of Jesus’ public ministry in and around the Galilean city of Capernaum. This series of episodes exhibits the three essential characteristics of Jesus’ mission: the healing and exorcism of marginalized people, the proclamation of God’s sovereignty and the call to discipleship. These practices result in escalating confrontations with the local authorities, culminating with open conflict in 3:1ff.
Continue reading “Challenging the Status Quo: Jesus Contests Scribal Authority”

“Let’s Catch Some Big Fish!” Jesus’ Call to Discipleship in a World of Injustice

FishermenBy Ched Myers, Third Sunday in Epiphany (Mk 1:14-20)

This is an ongoing occasional series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B.
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The Sea of Galilee is the ecological and social setting of the first half of the gospel of Mark. A large freshwater lake about seven miles wide and 13 miles long, its shore is dotted with villages connected with the local fishing industry, the most prosperous segment of Galilee’s economy. The lake (also called Sea of Genneseret, Lake Kinneret or Lake Tiberius) is fed by the Jordan River, which flows in from the north and out to the south. Some 209 meters below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth. Due to this low-lying position in a rift valley, the sea is prone to sudden violent storms, as attested in the gospel stories.
Continue reading ““Let’s Catch Some Big Fish!” Jesus’ Call to Discipleship in a World of Injustice”

Baptized Into Our Bioregion

the-Baptism-of-JesusBy Ched Myers of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, hosting the Festival of Radical Discipleship in mid-February in Oak View, CA:

Yesterday, the First Sunday after Epiphany, was the Feast of Jesus’ Baptism. In the gospel reading, a particular preposition is used in refrain in Mark 1:9-12. Everyone else is baptized by John in the Jordan, but Jesus is baptized into the river (Gk, eis ton Iordanēn). Then that wild bird descends onto or into Jesus (eis auton). And right after this, Jesus journeys deep into the wilderness (eis tēn ‘eremon), on his “vision quest.”
Continue reading “Baptized Into Our Bioregion”