This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
PETTY CRIMINAL DENOUNCES HIS JUDGES
2 Samuel 5:1-12
New English Translation (NET)
David Is Anointed King Over Israel
5 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron saying, “Look, we are your very flesh and blood! 2 In the past, when Saul was our king, you were the real leader in Israel. The Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel; you will rule over Israel.’”
3 When all the leaders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, King David made an agreement with them in Hebron before the Lord. They designated David as king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign and he reigned for forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned for thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.
David Occupies Jerusalem
6 Then the king and his men advanced to Jerusalem against the Jebusites who lived in the land. The Jebusites said to David, “You cannot invade this place! Even the blind and the lame will turn you back, saying, ‘David cannot invade this place!’”
7 But David captured the fortress of Zion (that is, the City of David). 8 David said on that day, “Whoever attacks the Jebusites must approach the ‘lame’ and the ‘blind’ who are David’s enemies by going through the water tunnel.” For this reason it is said, “The blind and the lame cannot enter the palace.”
9 So David lived in the fortress and called it the City of David. David built all around it, from the terrace inwards. 10 David’s power grew steadily, for the Lord God who commands armies was with him.
11 King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar logs, carpenters, and stonemasons. They built a palace for David. 12 David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that he had elevated his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.
New English Translation (NET)
A Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
24 After Jesus left there, he went to the region of Tyre. When he went into a house, he did not want anyone to know, but he was not able to escape notice. 25 Instead, a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him and came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, of Syrophoenician origin. She asked him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and to throw it to the dogs.” 28 She answered, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “Because you said this, you may go. The demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Healing a Deaf Mute
31 Then Jesus went out again from the region of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had difficulty speaking, and they asked him to place his hands on him. 33 After Jesus took him aside privately, away from the crowd, he put his fingers in the man’s ears, and after spitting, he touched his tongue. 34 Then he looked up to heaven and said with a sigh, “Ephphatha” (that is, “Be opened”). 35 And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue loosened, and he spoke plainly. 36 Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone. But as much as he ordered them not to do this, they proclaimed it all the more. 37 People were completely astounded and said, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
The passage from Samuel shows the pay-off for David’s patient obedience to what he believed to be a divine vocation to rule his people. He does not need to force his way to power in Israel as its people come to him, recognising his ability. His kingly status is boosted by his victory over the Jebusites which repays them for their bad joke about the lame and the blind and also secures him a capital city to which he gives his name; and by Hiram of Tyre sending materials and craftsmen to build him a royal palace. The author is in no doubt that power and wealth are the signs of God’s favour.
The gospel writer Mark takes a very different view of the signs of God’s favour. Jesus has neither worldly power nor wealth but he has the grace to respond to a mother’s wit and love for her child. He rebuffs her with a classic Jewish put-down; she humorously plays the puppy, representing her need and her humanity, which he cannot resist. He is ready to learn from a desperate foreigner, who reminds him of his own belief that in the time of the Kingdom, Gentiles would approach Israel’s God.
The healing of the deaf -and- dumb man (yes, that’s what the Greek says, not “difficulty with speaking”!) reveals in word and action the nature of his power. Jesus has opened himself fully to God’s goodness and can therefore instruct this needy man to do so. The tradition Mark is using has retained the healing command in Jesus’ Aramaic, a way of enshrining its explosive power.
Mark’s shepherd king does not bar the lame and the blind from the “royal household”; he invites them to come in and be healed. His perfection is not that he cannot err, but that he is ever ready to learn more of God’s way. His people see his goodness: “he has done everything well!”
It is the connection with God’s goodness, that is, God’s justice and kindness, which unites David and Jesus in spite of the many differences between them. David is Jesus-like in his giving a home to the crippled son of Jonathan (2 Samuel 9) in spite of all the banter about disabled people being his enemies; and Jesus is David-like in his readiness to keep on learning God’s way. The gospels retain the connection between Jesus and David because “Son of David” was a messianic title, and although the Christian church had become largely Gentile. it recognised its debt, and the debt of its Lord, to the Jewish tradition of faith.
Artos = bread
The Prayer of Jesus, also called the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, will be printed in this blog from time to time, with an invitation to join a world -wide family of people committed to saying this prayer daily. The prayer is suitable for all circumstances of life and in face of all kinds of world events. It is the prayer given by God’s son to be the prayer of God’s children. It might well be used by people of all religions and none without compromising their own convictions. The prayer is given here in the version found in Luke chapter 11, rather than the more familiar expanded version found in Matthew chapter 7. The family of those who commit themselves to this discipline can be called Artos, the Greek word for bread which is used in the prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer, in Luke’s shorter version, is a small map of the Christian life.
We trust in a source of life beyond all universes. “Father” is Jesus’ word for the One who loves all creatures.
May your name be kept holy;
We worship this source knowing that it is beyond our knowledge yet we call it “father” as Jesus did, because we believe it is also a source of goodness and love. This worship protects us from worshipping the idols of our time and place.
May your kingdom come.
We long for everyone to live in God’s Way, the Way revealed supremely in Jesus
Give us day by day the bread we need,
Food and all the necessities of life are no longer “mine” but “ours”; no longer secured for all time but received day by day, year by year. We want the means of life to be shared justly.
And forgive us the wrongs we have done
As we forgive those who have wronged us;
Because we see the crucifixion of Jesus as the supreme sign of God’s love for the world, we trust that God will be generous in forgiving our sins, but we know that we have not fully received this forgiveness until we are able to forgive those who’ve wronged us.
And do not bring us into hard testing. Amen.
We are not supermen and women. We are frail flesh and blood and we ask to be spared situations which will test us beyond our strength, just as Jesus prayed before his arrest. But we trust that if we do come into hard testing, as Jesus did, God will deliver us from evil, as he delivered Him.
Learning to pray this prayer, and to live by it, is the heart of the Christian Way; but it also belongs to all children of God eveywhere.
PART 1 is about God the Father; PART 2 is about God the Spirit; and the WHOLE is the prayer of God the Son, and becomes the prayer of God’s children. In this prayer we become part of the Trinity.
Through this blog I’m inviting readers to use the prayer, by memorising it and saying it at the start of their day, which will be at different times in different zones. Here in the UK I’ll use it at 8.00 British Standard Time. Please say the prayer while thinking of your brothers and sisters elsewhere, all of them dear to God, all of them part of the one family. You may like to identify yourself as part of the Artos family, by website address or email, using the comment facility on this blog. Your contributions will help establish this new world-wide community. Perhaps in time, the prayer community should create its own website.