Friday, January 16, 2009

Lectionary Notes

Some Thoughts on the Second Sunday after Epiphany
Proper 2, Year B
18 January, AD 2009
Dear Readers: My recent return to parish work, for all that it is part-time, along with some other part-time work is beginning to have an effect on the preparation of these notes. They will be thoughts spun off from the preparation of a weekly sermon and restricted by the time at my disposal. I have no idea whether these notes have been of much interest to any but one or two readers; I hope they will be as they become more and more a forum for developing ideas.
Ordinary Time
Advent and Christmastide, Lent and Easter are the major seasons of the Christian year and the Sundays within them have a distinct character. There are thirty-three or thirty-four other Sundays, depending on the year, which are known nowadays as Sundays of the Year, or Ordinary time. There are four to nine Sundays after Epiphany and before Lent, and the rest follow the Day of Pentecost.
On these “Days of the Lord,” Christians continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. First, they listen to what Scripture has to say about him in the Liturgy of the Word The Gospels for this Time are a semi-continuous reading of the three Synoptic Gospels providing a presentation of the Lord’s life and preaching. Those after Epiphany are concerned with the beginning of the Lord’s preaching and are related to his Baptism and first manifestation. Secondly, Christians commemorate Christ’s death and resurrection in the signs fo bread and wine. … [The New St Joseph Daily Missal {New York: Catholic Book Publishing, 1986)]
No Sunday is ordinary, regardless of the terms we may use: every Sunday is the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, it is sometimes said that every Sunday is a “little Easter.” It is for this reason that it is important that all who are baptized into the Risen Lord gather on his day to celebrate, for his body is lacking when a member is absent.
The Readings: Epiphany II
The main theme of this second Sunday after the Epiphany is that of calling, which we meet in both the first reading and the Gospel. But it also has the theme of witness, for in the Gospel we hear that when Jesus said to Philip, "Follow me," Philip at once went to find Nathanael to tell him. The words he used, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote", weem to suggest that Philip and Nathanael had been wont to discuss these prophecies and their fulfilment. The same pattern of a call be Jesus and then seeking another took place just before this passage (1.35-42). Two disciples of John followed Jesus when John pointed him out as “the Lamb of God.” One of these disciples was Andrew, who “first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah," that is to say, the Christ.” This verse gives us the Sentence [Alleluuia verse] for today.
I have always believed that the idea of one’s calling cannot be separated from that of creation, which is why God created by calling things into being. This link might be seen in one of the verses of the Psalm today (139.1-6; 13-18), “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
We do not have the space to do justice to the idea of “finding,” which is another theme in the Gospel for today. Sometimes there is no doubt that the person who was found was being sought, as when Andrew found Simon or Philip found Nathanael; but other times it is not so clear, as when Jesus "found Philip". Ws he looking for him, or is this simoly a case where "fnd" means "to come upon"?
A preacher might well be tempted to gloss over the passage from the first Letter to the Corinthians (6.12-20), since talking about sex in a sermon is bound to upset somebody. It sometimes seems that some Christians think that sexuality is the only moral issue there is and all others think that it is not a moral issue at all. And fo all those who are offended at any hint of laxity, there are others who are upset at the suggestion that sexuality might be restricted by some law. In fact, thngs seem to have changed very little from St Paul's time! So are we read this passage it would be well to remember a few points.
~ St Paul seems to be addressing the opinion that sexuality is nothing more than a bodily appetite (which might be why he quotes the slogan “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach or food!”) and that out actions make no moral difference. He asserts, on the contrary, that such actions involve the whole person, and looks to the teaching that they make the two persons one flesh. Thus, the principal involved is that one’s freedom is to be judged in terms of one’s personal ties to another.
~ We must also remember that he seems to be discussing not we might call a “love affair” (without defining it further) but relations with a prostitute. Whether or not this raises the spectre of pagan religious practice, it is a very particular area of sexual conduct.
~ Finally, and of greatest importance, the whole passage works up to a fuindamentally important statement: You are not your own, you were bought with a price. It is from this idea that the very notion of .Redemption springs, for to “redeem” means in the first instance, “to buy back”. It would be a pity if we were so distracted by talk of sex that we did not ask ourselves just what this fact means to the whole of our life and to all the use of our time and resources. If one really believed “you are not your own” it would make so radical a change in life that any impact on sexuality would be trivial in comparison.
That’s all the time I have this week.
Redemption: The Etymology
Our word "redeem" is from the Latin verb emo, emere, emi. emptus, "to buy" (we know it today in the tag caveat emptor, "let the buyer beware"); with re, "back" we get redimere, redemptus, "to buy back, redeem, ransom," whence the noun redemptio, -onis, "a buying back", which c. 1340 is used in the sense of “deliverance from sin”. We still see something like the original sense in the expression “to redeem a coupon”

1 comment:

Felicity Pickup said...

re "If one really believed “you are not your own” it would make so radical a change in life ... "

My flighty thoughts have been harking back to this sentence. If I try to imagine myself believing thuswise, two things flit through my mind. Firstly, I'd want to run and hideout (Jonah-style).

Secondly, it's not something that most people in my comfortable corner of society could understand. Not owning oneself. Things like indentured labor, enslavement, captivity for ransom do happen in our 21st century world, but I'm pretty well shielded from all that.

Even if I were working alongside an illegal immigrant in hock to his smugglers or a woman owned body and soul by her husband or family, I wouldn't know.

And "bought with a price" ? No idea. On the other hand, I suppose we're not obliged to grasp a metaphor that did resonate with St Paul's original listeners.