Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15; Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16; (Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Psalm 146;) 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22; Psalm 124; (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; Psalm 19:7-14;) James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50
Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; (Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-9;) Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32
If you are reading this column hoping to get some insight into Mark 9:49-50, you can stop now. These verses are intensely obscure; the commentaries offer little help; neither I nor anyone I know has received a special revelation explaining the text. Let us simply agree to move on to other matters. By this point in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has started to speak openly about his impending death.
A missionary friend was scheduled to speak about his mission work at a distant church. He got up before daybreak that Sunday morning and drove 300 miles, preached at two services and spent the afternoon speaking with members of the congregation. As he was leaving that evening, the treasurer of the church gave him an envelope, which he tucked in his pocket for the ride home. It was very late when he returned home. As he undressed, he remembered the envelope. He turned on the light in the bathroom and opened it. Out fell a check with his name written on it in bold letters. Under his name were the words: A million thanks! It was signed by the treasurer.
Next to the window in my study, where I can’t but see it every day, there’s a framed cartoon from an old edition of the National Lampoon. It’s a spoof of a Medici rose window from the cathedral in Florence, and depicts a laughing camel leaping with ease through the eye of a needle. The superscription reads: “a recurring motif in works commissioned by the wealthier patrons of Renaissance religious art,” while the Latin inscription on the window itself is “Dives Vincet,”or “Wealth Wins!”
We watched in horror as both towers lit up, then fell into a cloud of smoke and ash. Then we gathered in the chapel with hundreds who came to pray. I asked the people to name the folks in their hearts and their concern as our prayer before God. The chapel rang with the precious names of loved ones.
Who has given Jesus the power to cleanse the temple? Because it’s hard for us to understand life in Jesus’ time, it’s also hard to understand just how fundamental his attack on the moneysellers is. By forgiving sins, Jesus is blasting away at the religious leaders of the day, members of the priestly class.