This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Jesus begins his ministry, in Galilee, and calls his first disciples
12-16 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested he went back to Galilee. He left Nazareth and came to live in Capernaum, a lake-side town in the Zebulun-Naphtali territory. In this way Isaiah’s prophecy came true: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned’.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “You must change your hearts—for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived.”
A prophecy by Isaiah from the 8th century BC, doubtless referring to a prince of the royal family is applied by Matthew to Jesus. It’s worth noting how he makes this change:
1. 8 centuries are annihilated
2. But the place, Galiliee, matters because it’s where Jesus lived and worked
3. The shadow of death was probably for Isaiah a foreign invasion, whereas for Matthew it is primarily the moral and spiritual blindness of Israel
4. The light was for Isaiah was probably the hope of a just and powerful king restoring the fortunes of Israel; whereas for Matthew it is the coming of God’s rule throughout the world, through Jesus.
5. For Isaiah change could come by political and military strength; for Matthew, as for Jesus, it can only come by a change of heart, that means a change of priorities.
It’s important to not to minimise or exaggerate the differences between Isaiah and Matthew. Isaiah trusted political means of securing justice in society but he thought that individual commitment was desirable; Matthew’s Jesus trusted individual commitment but thought it could lead to world wide justice and peace.
I Corinthians 1: 22-31
Show me the wise; show me the scholar; show me the intellectual of our times-God has turned their worldly wisdom into daftness.
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, it delighted God through the daftness of preaching, to rescue those who trust in him.
Now Jews demand miracles and Greeks seek wisdom
but we announce a crucified Messiah, offensive for Jews and daft for gentiles
but for those whom God has called, Jews and Greeks alike, a Messiah who is God’s power and God’s wisdom.
For the daftness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength
Look at your calling, brothers and sisters-not many of you were wise by worldly standards, not many powerful, not many well-born-
but God favoured the daft people of the world to shame the wise, and the weak people of the world to shame the strong.
And the low-born and disreputable people of the world, people who barely exist, God has favoured to bring to nothing the powers that be,
so that no flesh and blood might boast in God’s presence
By God’s action, you are in Messiah Jesus, who has, through God, become our wisdom, justice, holiness and liberation;
so that, as scripture says, If you’re boasting, boast in the Lord!
Paul’s point is that if God has taken, in his son Jesus, a crazy, downwardly mobile route to express his love for the world, those who respond are likely to be either already poor, disadvantaged and disregarded, or to be prepared to become so. Those who are rich in wealth, power or righteousness are unlikely to respond positively. This checks with my own experience.