Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TMI or just right?

Wednesday Evening Prayer included Mark's account of the death of John the Baptist.

It is a jarring story in and of itself, made more acute by Mark's unusual amount of detail. In most cases, Mark gives the least detail of the four Gospels, but on this one event he gives more than the others.

Scholars tend to agree that Mark was written for Christians under persecution. Perhaps the account of a righteous and faithful witness, jailed and murdered by the powers-that-be, was important for them.

The powerful are portrayed in all their earthly glory. They drink and party at public expense, they seduce, they place themselves above written and moral law, they make expansive promises and use positions of influence to manipulate for petty, personal agendas. There's nothing the righteous can do when the rich and powerful decided to throw their weight around.

Yet Mark is clear that John is "righteous and holy" - even those who do him in know it.

Like the Christians for whom Mark wrote, we have to remember that earthly outcomes are not the measure of our worth in God's sight. That reality is affirmed in the evening Psalm,

But God will ransom my life; he will snatch me from the grasp of death.
Do not be envious when some become rich, or when the grandeur of their house increases;
For they will carry nothing away at their death, nor will their grandeur follow them.
Though they thought highly of themselves while they lived, and were praised for their success,
They shall join the company of their forebears, who will never see the light again.
Those who are honored, but have no understanding, are like the beasts that perish.
Psalm 49:15-20


The Archer of the Forest said...

I don't know why that reading comes up in the Daily Office invariably when I have the most people show up for the Daily Eucharist.

TLF+ said...

Or the one that ends "But what David had done displeased the LORD" or the one that begins "I hear that there is fornication among you!"

God having folks show up to hear about John the Baptist's death does not auger well for our future comfort...

The Archer of the Forest said...

I think one time I forgot my Daily Office readings book. And so I grabbed a bible in the sacristy. Only during the service did I realize it was a good King Jimmy, when the reading (I think it was a psalm but not certain offhand) for the day proclaimed calling the people "O Sluggard!"

The Archer of the Forest said...

Now that I recall, it was Proverbs 6:

"How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?"

TLF+ said...

And we just keep using the Venite and Jubilate... why shouldn't Prov. 6, KJV be our new Invitatory?

Anonymous said...

My six year olds -- who have a hard time waking up on time -- are supposed to come to Sunday School with a new verse memorized each week. I think this will be the verse of the week.

Ordinariate bound priest in LA