THis blog provides a meditation on the daily readings of the Common Lectionary along with a headline from world news:
Irish protesters demand abortion justice, for women and foetuses, in Ireland
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
16-17 “Nobody lights a lamp and covers it with a basin or puts it under the bed. No, a man puts his lamp on a lamp-stand so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden now which will not become perfectly plain and there are no secrets now which will not become as clear as daylight.”
18 “So take care how you listen—more will be given to the man who has something already, but the man who has nothing will lose even what he thinks he has.”
19-20 Then his mother and his brothers arrived to see him, but could not get near him because of the crowd. So a message was passed to him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to see you.”
21 To which he replied, “My mother and my brothers? That means those who listen to God’s message and obey it.”
22 It happened on one of these days that he embarked on a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”
23-25 So they set sail, and when they were under way he dropped off to sleep. Then a squall of wind swept down upon the lake and they were in grave danger of being swamped. Coming forward, they woke him up, saying. “Master, master, we’re drowning!” Then he got up and reprimanded the wind and the stormy waters, and they died down, and everything was still. Then he said to them, “What has happened to your faith?” But they were frightened and bewildered and kept saying to each other, “Who ever can this be? He gives orders even to the winds and waters and they obey him.”
Luke understands Jesus as declaring his truth as public truth. He is not sharing secrets with a band of devotees. It may be that some of what he says seems obscure at the present time but it will become clear as his life unfolds. The truth is meant to illuminate the lives of its hearers, so it must not be concealed as if it were the property of a sect. Those who receive the teaching and put it into practice are the good hearers who put the light on the lampstand and are ready to understand more; those who fail to put it into practice are like those who cover the truth with a basin and will find that they possess nothing. The public nature of the truth means that it must be practiced so that it is visible. This is a sober sort of wisdom which removes the faith of Jesus from all sorts of ecstatic gobbledygook and solemn secrecy. Luke sees Jesus’ avoidance of his own family in this light; he simply insists on the pre-eminence of the new family which hears and practices God’s truth.
(This incident is painted in darker colours by Luke’s primary source, Mark. He hints that Jesus’ family think he is bringing the into disrepute and come to force him home. Jesus rejects them publicly. It’s worth noting that if we read this passage naturally it depicts Mary as the normal mother of boys, rather than as a perpetual virgin)
The story of the storm is a “dream drama” reported by Matthew and Mark also, in which the lake stands for the forces of chaos and death, the other side stands for God’s kingdom. the storm stands for the forces that will try to destroy Jesus and his disciples, Jesus’ sleep stands for his death, and his waking power stands for his resurrection. This clumsy explanation shows how good the narrative is provided we do not try to force it to do duty as history. Luke is inviting his readers into the ship of faith, to share its dangers and the terror of its crew, until the wakened Jesus brings calm and order. It’s not a story about an improbable incident on a lake; it’s about the sweaty fear that assails me when I announce a gospel truth that will arouse opposition and abuse. When that storm is raging I’m terrified and shout at Jesus for not helping. But it’s only when I share his crucifixion that I discover his resurrection calm.