The Causes of Sin

Next Sunday is the 26th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle with the Gospel reading be taken from Mark 9:38-48. As in the gospel of last Sunday, this gospel also continues the teaching and preparation of the disciples. In the gospel, it seems as thought the preparation is still a “work in progress.”

In seminary exegesis courses one is taught to look for details that indicate a change of scene, location, or other markers to indicate the boundaries of a particular pericope (a technical word used in exegesis meaning “narrative” – and a word that auto-correction keeps wanting to change to “periscope,” which given my history serving on nuclear submarines is kinda’ interesting.). There are no such markers in the text. It is a safe bet to assume Jesus is still in Capernaum, surrounded by the Twelve, with a child in their midst (9:33-37). The expression “little ones” may well also include those given a cup of water because they bear the name of Jesus (v.41). Continue reading

Outsider – Insider

Next Sunday is the 26th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle with the Gospel reading be taken from Mark 9:38-48. As in the gospel of last Sunday, this gospel also continues the teaching and preparation of the disciples. In the gospel, it seems as thought the preparation is still a “work in progress.” The apostles and disciples have wondered who among them was the greatest, and now it seems they are wondering who should be counted as “among them.”

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” 39 Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. 

One should not miss the irony in this passage. The disciples were attempting to prevent another from doing what they had just failed to do (9:18). Continue reading

Problems of the human condition

Next Sunday is the 26th Sunday in Year B of the lectionary cycle with the Gospel reading be taken from Mark 9:38-48. As in the gospel of last Sunday, this gospel also continues the teaching and preparation of the disciples. In this passage it seems clear that Jesus is pointing out some of the problems that the community will face – and many of them can be understood as problems of the human condition. The concerns of this coming Sunday’s passage are: (1) ambition among themselves (vv. 33–37); (2) envy and intolerance of others (vv. 38–41); and (3) scandalizing others (vv. 42–48).

It is good to remember that Jesus has just said to the Twelve: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.” In this Sunday’s gospel it would seem the children are still present in the scene, as Jesus says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin….” (Mt 9:42) Continue reading