Pentecost +15 - Year C
Let's see, Jesus can affront and confound people just by standing still, when invited in, by stopping mid-stride, praying, wandering off by himself, and observing others. An equal opportunity challenger, was Jesus. Observing that trait of his, we would naturally try to get on his good side or at least evade his gaze should it drift in our direction.
Unfortunately, his gaze is as erratic as a prison searchlight should be. Here we are all marching along. A cadence has been set. Then, mid-stride, Jesus throws everyone off stride.
"Is death your advisor?" he asks. Later rememberers of this moment put that in terms of his own death on a cross, but he probably simply said, "What does your death tell you it is important to be about, that you might see life more clearly and act more compassionately?"
The implication of his brother/sister/mother/father talk is that Advisor Death (precursor of the Holy Spirit later sent to advise us) will let us know that there is something more important than family/church solidarity. Blood and Creedal lines are not all they are cracked up to be.
Can you hear Jesus say, "Look around. What is more important for you than simply being in the good graces of the folks standing next to you in this crowd and thinking, thereby, you have pleased me? Why are you following? Get moving!"
It is easy to read the moral of this section as through a Lenten lens, through a perspective of financing the church - give up your possessions. It is appropriate, in light of the prior questions, to ask about where you will "invest" your life. This then reads, "Do you want to join me on this Way to G*D? Invest fully in life (which means risk fully)."
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On a more personal level, as the Power of Attorney for my mother's health care in a family of five siblings, there is a sense in which everyone in the crowd was just invested with the Power of Attorney for their own and each other's health/wholeness/salvation. And, not surprisingly, everyone took it so that the various component parts could not carry on as they had with their various accepted positions or divisions of labor - sort of a variation on the Tower of Babel where all the different languages become all the different stages and paces of those involved and, as a result, don't easily mesh. It is risky business to have a whole crowd become invested with the equivalent ordination pronouncement, "Take thou authority . . . ."
We are doing well in working together, beyond blood and creed, for a common goal of a comfortable transition to a next stage of life, but this passage has taken on a new glow for me in light of the world around. That actually happens a lot, but this is an easily noticed shift. What new aspect of this pericope have you noticed?