It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Repent, Yes, You, Too, a Reflection on Matthew 3:1-9

We are in the time that the church calendar has designated as Advent. Advent, waiting for an arrival. Remembering the birth of a baby and anticipating the return of our Savior. Advent.

While we are waiting, we read this passage from Matthew.

John the Baptist preached repentance. In looking forward, they also were looking back. John and his appearance and his words recalled for them the prophet of an earlier time, Isaiah, who had also preached repentance and hope.

John was addressing people who were living geographically in the land promised to them, but the conquering Roman army was occupying that land. John preaches to them that the kingdom of heaven has come near. Many are listening and responding. They come from the city of Jerusalem and from all over the country to hear John and to be baptized by him.

To summarize, so far: John preached. People responded.

Matthew tells us that among the crowds that came to hear John and be baptized by him, some religious leaders also showed up. John addressed them sharply, calling them names. Look back at Isaiah 28 to read judgment on the corrupt rulers, priests, and prophets of his time--and, to John's time, and, to ours.

Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV-Year A:
What John attacks is the presumptuousness of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The prophet had written, "look to the rock from which you were hewn...Look to Abraham your father" (Isa 51:1-2). The problem was that the rock had become something behind which to hide, a place of supposed protection, a spot of security. John challenges the privileged position claimed by the Pharisees and Saducees...Repentance has to do not only with remorse over past failures, but also with a new heart and a changed life...

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