Welcome to Biblical Resources. The aerial shot included shows the excavated site of Capernaum. Slightly left of centre, you may notice the octagonal church over the presumed site of Peter’s house. To the right of that is the second century synagogue, which was most likely built on the site of the synagogue frequented by Jesus.
In the month of September, there are several important Jewish feasts. This week, Wednesday, 19th of September, marks Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Next Sunday is the eve of Sukkoth, a feast lasting 8 days, mentioned in John 7-10.
The Wexford Cycle for Peter McVerry took place over the weekend. This is my last appeal for donations — you make like to scroll down to the end. Thanks very, very much to all who have contributed already. With cash and cheques, it comes so far to around €7.5K. Last year, it went just over €10k.
By way of exception, all three readings do actually hang together this week. The sheer realism of James has immense power, because he tells it as it is. It certainly triggers reflection.
Be careful, however. It is easy to see here a message that others need to hear (the institutional church, leadership etc.). But that would be to evade and to avoid. The message is for everyone and so also for me. It is not that ambition is bad — the desire to realise you gifts is good and “the glory of God is the human being fully alive” (St Irenaeus). But the old ego gets in the way and distorts our perceptions and our actions. Even the apostles who knew Jesus….!
The prophetic gesture with a little child can also be misread. John Dominic Crossan helps us to hear the message in its cultural setting. He notes that children were not the objects of sentimental affection as they can be in our culture:
But what would ordinary Galilean peasants have thought about children? Would “like a child” have immediately meant being humble, being innocent, being new, being credulous? Go back, if you will, to those papyrus fragments quoted in chapter 1 of this book and think for a moment of the infants, often female but male as well, abandoned at birth by their parents and saved from the rubbish dumps to be reared as slaves. Pagan writers were, according to Menahem Stern, rather surprised that Jewish parents did not practice such potential infanticide (1976-84:1.33, 2.41), but still, to be a child was to be a nobody, with the possibility of becoming a somebody absolutely dependent on parental discretion and parental standing in the community. That, I think, is the heart of the matter with all other allusions or further interpretations clustering around that central and shocking metaphor. A kingdom of the humble, of the celibate, or of the baptized comes later. This comes first: a kingdom of children is a kingdom of nobodies.’ (Historical Jesus, 269)
Charity cycle (Peter McVerry)
Each year, I undertake one charity cycle for homeless young people. The charity is called Welcome Home, under the guidance and inspiration of Peter McVerry SJ. If you would like to find out more and perhaps make a donation, click on this link. Thanks so much.
I’ve already done the cycle ahead of the official date on account of a teaching commitment in Jerusalem for all of September. Fanatics can see the details here.
Shalom from Jerusalem,
Kieran O’Mahony, OSA
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