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Lectionary 339: Tower of Babel

February 16, 2017


Lectionary 339. Scripture for Feb.17.  Genesis 11:1-9. Psalm 33: 10-11, 12-13,14-15.  Mark 8:34-9:1:

Genesis gives us the Yahwist’s theology of how  diversity among peoples came about.  In the start of the human race there was only one language for communicating with each other.  However, with the building of a tower that was intended to reach high in the sky (possibly the ziggurat whose remains were found) became the symbol for the Babel (confusion) that occurs.  People were dispersed and spoke different languages; communication as one family was no more. There was diversity but no unity.

For an interesting insight into both Babel and the ziggurat I looked at J.L. Mckenzie’s article in his one volume dictionary.  It made the account of Genesis come alive for me.  Another important statement that I paraphrase comes from Peake’s Commentary on the Bible. S.H. Hooke is the commentator: The story of the Yahwist, the author of this legend, is a symbolic picture which represents the final disintegration of that order and unity that God had brought into existence in the primal act of creation. (Peake, p. 186).

This is a story (narrative) that speaks to us today about how separated we are from one another all over the globe when it comes to the ideal of unity amidst diversity.

Our Psalm 33 speaks of God’s plan for the nations to be blessed when they come together and live harmoniously.  The Psalm is the opposite of the curse of Babel.God’s attributes offset what we experience as terrorism, wars, enmities, jealousy, control, and power.  God attributes unite us; they are righteousness (integrity), loving-kindness, justice and peace. This is part of the ethical tradition and gift of the Jewish psalms for all of us. God’s act of creation in Genesis is chanted and the power of God’s word is praised. (Psalm 33:6-9).

Jesus demands of us that total gift of self if we truly want to be his disciples. This means carrying the cross with him in our sufferings, even to our moment of death. We are to focus on becoming more and more like Jesus in our actions, words, and thoughts.  These demands are addressed not only to his immediate disciples but to the crowds that were following him.  Here are his words to us: “If anyone would come after me, let him/her take up their cross and follow me. For who would save their life will lose it; and whoever loses their life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  ( see Mark 8:34-37). Amen.


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