Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lectionary Notes

Some Notes for First Sunday in Lent of Year A
Sunday, 13 March 2011

The week of the beginning of Lent is full of activity, and the time for preparing notes is limited. After noting one or two points that are very important, I have promised myself to have this done and out today (which is Thursday). Because of the Lenten Study series, the rest of the season will mostly likely offer similar constraints.

Both the Sentence and the Collect refer to the Gospel. The Collect is a modified form of the traditional Prayer Book Collect for this Sunday; as always you might find it useful to compare the two versions. It is otherwise quite straightforward and need no require comment.
Genesis 2.15-17, 3.1-7
That Genesis 2.4-3.24 differ from the opening chapter (1:1-2:3) is clear from differences in style and in the order of the events of creation. John Skinner wrote in his commentary on Genesis that the literary and aesthetic character of Genesis 2.4-3.24 is best appreciated by comparison with Chapter 1. “Instead of the formal precision, the schematic disposition, the stereotyped diction, the aim at scientific classification, which distinguish the great cosmogony, we have here a narrative marked by childlike simplicity of conception, exuberant though pure imagination, and a captivating freedom of style. Instead of lifting God far above man and nature, this writer revels in the most exquisite anthropomorphisms ; he does not shrink from speaking of God as walking in His garden in the cool of the day (3.8), or making experiments for the welfare of His first creature (2.18ff), or arriving at a knowledge of man s sin by a searching examination (3.9ff); etc. While the purely mythological phase of thought has long been outgrown, a mythical background everywhere appears ; the happy garden of God, the magic trees, the speaking serpent, the Cherubim and Flaming Sword, are all emblems derived from a more ancient religious tradition. Yet in depth of moral and religious insight the passage is unsurpassed in the OT. We have but to think of its delicate handling of the question of sex, its profound psychology of temptation and conscience, and its serious view of sin, in order to realise the educative influence of revealed religion in the life of ancient Israel. It has to be added that we detect here the first note of that sombre, almost melancholy, outlook on human life which pervades the older stratum of Gn. 1-11. [Skinner]
The first reading is part of this story; not the whole account of the Fall and Expulsion from Paradise but only of the temptation and the act of disobedience which ensued.
In the first three verses we here of the first commandment that was given; in the blissful garden, there was only one thing forbidden. Some have wondered why in verse 15 it is said that the man was put in the garden to till it if toil is part of the curse given for sin. Any gardener will know that this does not really contradict the later curse (3.17f.) The ideal existence for man is not idle enjoyment, but easy and pleasant work; “the highest aspiration of the Eastern peasant” being to keep a garden. For keep Skinner reads guard and notes: The question from what the garden had to be protected is one that should not be pressed.
The second part should run from Genesis 2.25 to 3.7, since a play on words in involved. The Hebrew words for ‘naked’ (2.25) and ‘crafty’ (3.1) are almost identical; in roman letters they are ‘arowm and ‘aruwm. The pair were naked and did not know it and were unashamed, that is, they were innocent; the temptation was to eat the fruit and become wise; but when the couple’s eyes are opened it is not in wisdom but in shame as they become aware that they are naked.

For the Psalm and the Epistle Reading, Please consult

The Holy Gospel according to St Matthew 4.1–11
The account of our Lord’s Temptation is traditionally read on the first Sunday in Lent because the forty days of our Lenten fast are modelled on our Lord’s forty days in the wilderness. His defeat of the tempter is a saving act because it is a work of obedience, undoing the disobedience by which our firs parents fell, dragging us into ruin. All of this is commented on theologically by the passage from the Epistle to the Romans which we read this morning.
I suggest that for detailed comment on the Gospel passage you consult the RCL Commentary at I also heartily recommend some Links to several important resources for the study of the Lord’s temptations which may be found in last year’s notes for Lent I see : Friday, February 19, 2010.
The NJBC`s comment on this passage is worth noting in full: “Mark relates this event in two verses (1.12-13) He tells the fact of the temptation but not the details. This probably reflects the situation of the disciples regarding the event: they knew that Jesus had been tempted but since temptation is essentially a personal, inner experience, they did not know exactly what had gone on in Jesus’ consciousness. The version in Matthew and Luke thus represents a narrative midrash or interpretation of events in such a way as to make it pastorally useful for believers.” But one might wonder—if the disciples knew that Jesus had been tempted, then they must have known it because he told them. Did he tell them no more than: I was tempted? Or did he himself tell them something of what went on in his consciousness? In the radio play ‘The King’s Herald’, the second part of The Man Born to be King, Dorothy L Sayers tells in a way both dramatically and humanly possible how this might have been. The section is unfortunately too long to quote fully here. But at the cost of detailed comment on the text, we would do well to look at the opening words, which are enough to make the point. The full scene is found on pages 85 to 87 of the plays; there is a copy in the parish library.

JESUS: Children, children—you don’t know with whose voice you are speaking. Appetite, superstition, and force: none of these can bring in the Kingdom. It is God’s Kingdom we are looking for. Listen, and try to understand. When I came to John for baptism, and heard God call me His son, I went into the desert to fast and pray. And when after forty days I came out from the presence of God, I realised that I was very hungry; and in the same moment I knew that I was not alone.
JOHN EVANGELIST: Were you visited by an angel?
ANDREW: John Baptist often sees visions when he has fasted.
JESUS: Something spoke in me that was not myself, and said: “Why go hungry? If you are the Son of God—if indeed you are the Son of God—you have only to command, and these desert stones will be turned into bread.” And I knew it was true. I had only to command.
ANDREW: But that would be a miracle …
JESUS: There are more difficult miracles than that …. Don’t look so alarmed; the bread you are eating came from the baker. … But miracles mustn’t be used for one’s self—only for other people.


13 Sunday: Quadragesima: the First Sunday in Lent
14 Monday: Lenten Feria
15 Tuesday: Lenten Feria
16 Wednesday: Lenten Feria
Fr Craig will be presiding at Evensong at Trinity College Chapel at 5:15
17 Thursday: Memorial of Patrick, Missionary Bishop in Ireland, 461
7 pm: Stations of the Cross and Lent Study at St Columba and All Hallows
18 Friday: Commemoration of Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Teacher of the Faith, 386
19 Saturday: Saint Joseph of Nazareth: Holy Day
20 Sunday: The Second Sunday in Lent
The Commemoration of Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, Missionary, 687 may be transferred to 22 March