June 17, 2019

  There is an age-old adage, “Like teacher, like student.” In the gospel of Matthew we read: “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” (Matthew 10:24-25, cf. Luke 6:40) We take on the characteristics of our teachers. This is why choosing an… Read more

June 14, 2019

  What happens when we have to choose between saving life and abiding by the law? In Mark, we read  of Jesus asking a similar question, “Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent.” (Mark 3:4) In this story in Mark’s gospel, Jesus contrasts that which is lawful and that which is life-saving, and calls our values and priorities into question…. Read more

June 12, 2019

  In Matthew’s gospel, we read of Jesus saying, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14, cf. Luke 6:39) The earliest record of a saying like the one we’re considering today is more than 200 years older than the time of Jesus: “Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.” (Katha Upanishad; The… Read more

June 7, 2019

In Mark’s gospel Jesus calls to Galilean fishermen, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will show you how to catch big fish.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1:17-18, personal translation) Last week I was reminded of the hymn, How Can I Keep From Singing. Although this hymn has been around for quite some time in a minority of hymnals, Pete Seeger popularized it in the folk music of the 60’s. Seeger incorporated an additional… Read more

June 6, 2019

In the gospels we read the instruction, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37) And, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For… Read more

June 5, 2019

In Luke’s gospel we read of Jesus teaching his audience, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36 cf. Matthew 5:48) We can split this saying into two parts. The first portion is obvious: the call to adopt “mercy” and apply it to the way we relate to each other. The second portion of the saying involves Jesus naming God as our “Father.” Let’s begin with this second part first. Many have described Jesus as progressive for his… Read more

May 31, 2019

“The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near!” (Mark 1:15) Does term “Kingdom” in the gospels have any relevance to us today? In early Hebrew scriptures, we find two opposing narratives about having a king. The book of Judges is a pro-king narrative, but in the book of Samuel, we read this story: “But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him:… Read more

May 30, 2019

  In Matthew we read Jesus’ challenge of impartial love, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even gentiles do that?” (Matthew 5:46-47)  In Luke’s gospel we read, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if… Read more

May 29, 2019

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) This saying of Jesus’ is almost universally referred to as the “the Golden Rule.”  The Golden Rule has a broad and lengthy history, beginning, to our best understanding, in 5th Century BCE China. Karen Armstrong writes in The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions that “Confucius was the first to promulgate the Golden Rule. For Confucius [the rule] had transcendent value” (p. 248). Armstrong explains,… Read more

May 24, 2019

Syracuse University’s Counseling Center defines marginalization as “the process of pushing a particular group or groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place in it . . . Some individuals identify with multiple marginalized groups, and may experience further marginalization as a result of their intersecting identities.” This week I ask what the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) have to say to those who live disenfranchised, disadvantaged, marginalized, and… Read more

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