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)


Ken said...

The New Zealand prayer reminds me of the St. Patrick's Lorica. Probably deliberate. It's gorgeous. Yet that former Rector who dropped out to join the RCC thought the NZP heretical. I don't know why. When people start trashtalking I shut down, unless I started it:-).

Jesus calling the Disciples, gathering those first men together for a walking tour of Roman-occupied Israel. I don't suppose the Jewish religious authorities knew much about Jesus at that point (did they?) and so did not consider him a threat. That would come later, when 5,000 people showed up and were fed, when the dead were raised, the sick healed, etc. "Oh, you violated the Sabbath!" What gets me is that the first four Disciples drop whatever they're doing and follow Jesus. No conditions, no expectations. What did Jesus "project" toward them, what was it in his magnetism--for there was no message as such--that could cause such total trust and disregard of ones personal life?

I am sure a lot of the religious authorities came to see Jesus as not only magnetic but as immensely dangerous. And I am sure that many present-day scoffers will ally Jesus with the "same kind of" mass hysteria that has afflicted human beings before and since: the Crusades, suppression of the Albigensians, Inquisition, and up to Jonestown..where another man said "Follow me." It becomes ever harder to discern falsehood from truth when you get to politics and the cry of "Follow me." Sad to say, there I assume they're all stretching the truth, but some stretch it until it screams in pain.

Enough ramble.

Doorman-Priest said...

What a fabulous picture. So vibrant and full of life.

pj said...

I like the picture too. And the post. :)