The Gospel is always proclaimed by flawed mortals—otherwise it would never be proclaimed at all. The Gospel is also always heard
by flawed mortals—otherwise it would never be heard. Hence there is a
beautiful and incarnational link between the two pericopes that make up
this week's Gospel lesson.
There is a resurrection in generosity, in opening your hand and
unclenching your fist. The daughter of Jarius knew this when Jesus
allowed her father to convince him to come over. Jesus went out of his
way, and the result was a healing.
This week's texts tell the story of deliverance from our many troubles.
They deliver us from the oppression of self-consciousness. They deliver
us from that sinking feeling, that sense that the boat is going down and
that we are beyond the reach of peace. Jesus all but scoffs at fear and
faithlessness: "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"
The Incas, at the peak of their civilization, had 150 varieties of corn.
When the Spanish came, they wiped most of these out—even destroying
much of the seed corn, so that a civilization of extraordinary vitality
and diversity became an impoverished one.
"Jesus, like most cultural heroes, is malleable," writes Stephen J.
Nichols. "And his given shape has much more to say about the shapers
than it does of him." Jesus Made in America presents itself as a
look at how the Jesus of American history has been shaped and reshaped
We could accuse this week's texts of setting up dichotomies: Romans
wants us to live by the spirit, not the flesh. Nicodemus and Jesus trade
stories about being born from above rather than below. A bush burns and
life changes; unnatural things abound. Everyone knows that when bushes
burn, they are consumed. Everybody knows where babies come from, and
it's not from "up there."