In the Lectionary

October 15, 28A (Psalm 106:1–6, 19–23)

Where is the psalmist’s own voice in this communal confession and appeal?

Reading is an opportunity to join a rich conversation. Writers often reach out to the words and ideas of others, shaping their craft by echoing, extending, or critiquing what they have encountered as readers. Explicit or implicit, intended or not, intertextual moments in a text connect us to the wider community of people, words, and ideas.

This is true of my favorite fiction. When I read Geraldine Brooks’s March, I rediscover the little women of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel through the father, the battlefields of the Civil War, and the plantations of Virginia. When I read Toni Morrison’s Sula or Tar Baby, I find a remade Janie, the storytelling heroine of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. I meet Brooks and Morrison not only as great writers but as brave and creative readers who respond to Alcott’s and Hurston’s classic tales in order to make new meaning of the pains and hopes humans experience.

As a reader of scripture, I am similarly drawn to passages that reach out to other passages. Here the Bible is alive not only as a source of divine truth but as a bridge to the ancient authors who, like me, have engaged in the serious work of knowing and sometimes wrestling with the stories, poetry, and teaching of our sacred text.