Lent 5, April 7, 2019

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Title:Lent 5, April 7, 2019

 Lent 5, April 7, 2019 (full size gallery)

Three big thanks this week (among others):

1. Charles McGuire’s work with the altar flowers and for helping clean the dishes at Sunday lunch.
2. Elizabeth Heimbach for her talk on “Roman Food” for the Corinthians class. Elizabeth studied Roman settlements (and food) in England in Hadrian’s Wall, Chichester and then in Italy in Pompei. Roman foods did without the New world foods – corn, potato, tomato, bell pepper, chili pepper, vanilla, tobacco, beans, pumpkin, cassava root, avocado, peanut, pecank, etc. They had pizza but without the tomatoes! They ate what ever was around such as wild game, spices, and green vegetables such as zucchini. Elizabeth also handled the altar.

Excerpts of her talk are found here.

3. Johnny Davis spend Sat cleaning off the remaining graves which had algae and other dirt.

This Sunday’s readings
celebrate the new life God grants through Christ. Isaiah speaks of the “new thing” God will do—life-giving, restorative, renewing. Paul asserts that all his personal achievements are worthless compared to the new life to be gained in Christ. Jesus reveals that his death and resurrection not only invite judgment but call us to compassion, forgiveness and conversion—that is, to new life!

Isaiah 43:16-21 proclaims Israel’s coming restoration to its homeland. The Lord will lead the people in a new exodus across the desert. Just as once God opened the way through the Red Sea, so God will now prepare the way in the wilderness.

The desert will be transformed from a place of death into a place of life. The animals that signify its desolation will honor the Lord. As in the first exodus, water will spring forth as a sign of God’s revelation.

In response to God’s saving acts, the people of Israel will fulfill the purpose of their existence by praising God.

Psalm 126 is a lament for the nation, a cry for deliverance. The past restoration of Zion by the Lord’s action, the joy of the people, and the astonishment of the nations are recalled (vv. 1-3). A prayer for similar restoration in the present (v. 4), for a change in fortune as dramatic as the effect of water in an arid land, leads to a promise of renewed joy to come out of sorrow (vv. 5-6).

The Epistle is from Philippians 3:4b-14. Paul’s opponents in Philippi considered it necessary for Christians to keep the Jewish law, including circumcision. Paul refutes this by drawing up a personal profit and loss statement. What once he counted as assets—his Hebrew genealogy, his upbringing and his strict observance of the law—he now estimates as loss.

Paul has experienced a complete transformation of all his former values. The knowledge of Christ that he seeks is not, however, a special or secret kind of knowledge. Rather, it is the experience of sharing in Christ’s death, both in baptism and in daily life, not cognitive but personal in nature, based in “righteousness from God” (v. 9), not moral superiority.

The Gospel shifts from Luke to John, John 12:1-8. The first 11 chapters of the Gospel of John are called by many scholars “the book of signs” because of the miracles recounted in them. The rest of the book is called “the book of glory” because of its focus on the glorification of Jesus and the Father through the crucifixion and resurrection. Chapter 12 is a transitional chapter wherein Jesus recognizes the end of his public ministry.

The chapter begins with an intimate scene: Jesus, his closest friends and the disciples share a meal. Mary expresses her deep love and devotion to Jesus with an extravagant gift. Her gesture was costly and vulnerable. Only a servant dealt with guests’ feet, and only a husband would see a respectable woman with her hair let down.

For Jesus, women are more than sexual objects and children-rearing machines. That’s why Jesus does not have a problem with being touched by women, seeing them with their hair down, with women talking to men or being active with their bodies and alive in their senses. In short, in the Reign of God women are equal at the intellectual level, at the salary level, and at all levels.

The author contrasts Mary’s simple, selfless act with Judas, whose protest seemed sensible but perhaps masks his greed. Jesus affirms Mary’s unrestrained emotion as the true response of a devoted heart.

We all have the need to be loved. Much of what we do in our lives is rooted in the pursuit of this need. We may fail finding that love from another. So we seek being loved through personal achievement, financial success, material adornment, power positioning, and even competitive comparison to others.

That wasn’t the case with Mary in this week’s Gospel. Mary’s anointing Jesus’ feet with the costly nard was a generous response to the love she and her family found themselves to have in relationship with Jesus. This is Mary who witnessed Jesus raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. Mary prepares Jesus for the work he is about to do; in turn, Jesus prepares the disciples. Jesus connects her actions with the anointing of his body following his death on the cross.

This is a powerful image when Mary chooses to anoint his feet, because she has spent a lot of time at his feet! Mary, the same one who sat at Jesus’ feet to listen to him, fell at his feet to mourn and weep, and now, anoints his feet and wipes them with her hair, the same feet that will be nailed to the cross. And from here, Jesus will enter Jerusalem, and on the night he is betrayed, he will choose to wash the disciple’s feet as well.

What motivates you ? Participating in the stewardship of the church through giving is easily attainable – you just have to take the step. It is much easier to enjoy than the other things mentioned earlier. And through stewardship you deepen your relationship to the work St. Peter’s does and the bind that ties you to other parishioners as well as express the love for what this church does.