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Lectionary 344: Sin

February 22, 2017

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Lectionary 344: Scripture:  Feb.23: Sirach 5:1-8. Psalm 1:1-2,3.4.5. Mark 9:41-50:

Mark never lets us lose sight of the fact that his Gospel is a Gospel of the Cross and of radical discipleship.  In today’s Gospel, we see the Semitic flavor of radically plucking out an eye, cutting off a foot, or arm.  This is a way of showing how deeply important it is to pay attention to the seriousness of sin. Today it would include the abuse of children, the damaging of the faith of those who are weak in their faith, and all serious crimes against our neighbors or even members of our family.  Jesus wants to impress on us the seriousness of such sins. He speaks in this horrendous way in order to make us come to our senses in the resistance of such sins and always to help others to prevent these sins from happening.  No easy task as we have seen and been shocked by what has happened in the abuse of children by members of the clergy.

You will notice as I did that many different themes are given today in Mark andre and they seem to be jammed together. Mark probably did not want to lose anything that he received about the words and deeds of Jesus.  The paragraph is not logically developed, lacks clarity, and offers some ambiguity.  We need to take one theme at a time and look at it carefully before we get impatient.  Take the example of salt at the end of the passage where it applies more to the peace and harmony in the Christian community.  Salt in the Bible is a symbol for several purposes: for preserving, sacrificing, purifying, and flavoring, but her for community harmony and peace.

Thus we have a collection of sayings of Jesus in this pericope (passage) from Mark. We do not have a unified theme in what is proclaimed today from Mark on our pulpits.

Sirach however is quite clear in using some examples for what wisdom seekers should not do.    Presumption is to be avoided in our relationship with God and our neighbors.  We are also told by Sirach not to delay our conversation with the Lord—a point well made as we approach Lent.  Remember Ash Wednesday begins next week.

Psalm 1 fits in perfectly with what praying is all about.  We are to meditate and ruminate on the words of God and make them the point of departure for our prayer.  This masterpiece of wisdom introduces the other 149 psalms and gives us the framework of what is righteous and good in God’s sight and what is not. Good is always to be done and evil avoided.  The Psalm thus acts as a prologue for our prayer life especially when we pray the psalms with all their imagery and praise of God.  I like to come back to this beautiful psalm which I think has been written or inspired by Jeremiah the prophet who is most intimate with the Lord.  Amen.

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