Monday, October 20, 2008

Matthew 22:34-46

Pentecost +24 – Year A

Matthew 22:34-46

It was quite the tag team match. Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Governors, and Kings all lined up against a refugee-raised, mystic prophet.

A question before us is who wins each round and who wins the match.

Yes, it will be important to define what a win means. To use a Dancing with the Stars image, the judges last word is not the last word – there is a spirit in the air, a zeitgeist that will not be denied. As a result, the results sometimes seem dumbfounding (hopefully the voting machines will not leave us equally perplexed).

To pick up on Eugene Peterson's translation in verse 46, literalists and legalists are stymied by metaphor and creativity. This shows up in whether you are trying to split hairs or find an organizing principle.

In the first scene, regarding Commandments, the detail folks were trumped by a context setting and then, in the second scene about Messiahs, the literalists were out-literalized. We may need to not so much take away a correct answer from this interaction as to un-focus our eyes to see the love shining through – to see every loving line of "you" (line from a Judy Fjell song).

You are hereby given permission to follow where the spirit of love leads you – sometimes seeing the big picture and sometimes attending to a detail. Enjoy the choices as they come your way.

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