Sunday, January 27, 2008
He taught in their synagogues
From this morning's Gospel on the call of the first disciples:
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
Their synagogues. I always wondered about that. The first disciples' synagogues? Was there a tour of hometowns? Or is that just a collective pronoun as in U.K. English usage?
At any rate, note, he is said to have taught in synagogues. Hardly indicates someone on the outs with his Jewish coreligionists.
(Yes, Matthew is the Gospel most overtly preoccupied with keeping the connection with a Jewish Christian, as opposed to Gentile Christian, audience. Though there is now some interesting new work on the Gospel of John in that regard.)
And note the basic elements of Jesus' ministry after the first call: teaching in the local congregations of his own religious community, preaching the reign of God (not the cult of his own personality), and healing all manner of ills.
Note that the text uses two words for illness (nosos and malakia). In the Greek they indicate two different kinds of diseases, though it is not entirely clear (to me) what the difference is, except that one means a sort of "softenes" or weakness. One can speculate that in our language, this would include both physical and mental illness, though Greek-speaking (and Aramaic-speaking) people did not make distinctions among illnesses that way.
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to us
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
Our Lord Jesus Christ be with us to defend us,
within us to keep us,
before us to lead us,
and above us to bless us.
God be our comfort, our strength;
God be our hope and support;
God be our light and our way;
and the blessing of God,
Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life,
remain with us now and forever.
A New Zealand Prayer Book
from Prayers for Use in Critical Situations and
The Blessing of the Sick
(language adapted to the first person plural)