In 70AD the Temple of God in Jerusalem was destroyed yet again, this time by the occupying Romans, never to be rebuilt. Such a disaster would have been like “the end” for Judaism. But Jesus’ conversation with his disciples in Mark 13 lets us know that it would not be the end for God. Rather it would be within his plan and foreknowledge. For by that time a new covenant had come into being, sealed with the blood of God’s Son, on a Roman cross, by which God could now be known and worshipped wherever people gather around the Son.
Ordinary Sunday 33, Yr B
The Christian future is built on trust: trust in the sovereign rule of God and his supreme Son, despite any earthly circumstances. Don’t be distracted by human deception or the news of the world. Give the future back to God and continue building his kingdom.
A fruitless fig tree (the nation of Israel) contrasted with a widow who offers the truest worship possible by offering all that she is and has to God. Our invitation to do the same.
Returning wonderfully refreshed from Long Service Leave, rest is a theme worthy of reflection. In just a few lines here in Matthew 11 Jesus says something profoundly liberating about grace. Anyone who follows him may be set free forever from religious obligation, able to rest in the grace of a loving Father.
Ordinary Sunday 19, Yr B
Psalm 130 is a penitential psalm. But it’s also a gospel-shaped psalm. It poses the weighty question of whether God keeps a record of our sins, and answers it with a litany of glorious news for sinners – that with God there is forgiveness, a never-empty reservoir of love, and ample redemption. Finally it preaches Christ to our hearts with a promise that all the sins of God’s people will be redeemed.
Being the Messiah’s people, citizens of the Kingdom of God, means recognising that the Kingdom is of ultimate importance. Let nothing keep you from it. The alternative is unthinkable. Citizens of this Kingdom are to resist being ‘clubby’ in favour of flavouring their world with the distinctive taste of peace among themselves, the taste of Jesus, so others will seek to feed their empty spirits on Him.
Jesus can expel a demonic force by his word because of who he is. But in this narrative, Mark’s interest isn’t primarily in the demonic opposition, but rather in the obstacle of human disbelief. This story is foremost about faith (or belief). Faith is not a human ability that makes things possible. Rather it is risking even the little faith we have on the strength of who Jesus is. Prayer is directed faith, faith directed to the one who uniquely is able.
A climax becomes an anticlimax. Jesus’ spiritually blind disciples finally see that Jesus is more than the herald of the Kingdom of God — he is the King in the kingdom. But it’s soon plain that they don’t yet see clearly. Now they and we must learn first that Jesus is the Messiah for whom rejection and death are central, and second that following him means ranking God’s kingdom above even our lives.
Jesus was given over to the heavenly Father’s purposes without reserve, even when those purposes involved suffering and injustice. He seeks followers ready to do the same.
In one breath Jesus consigns all the food laws of Judaism to history. They have no place in God’s Kingdom or in the new covenant he has brought in. In Christ’s Kingdom holiness matters absolutely. But it’s not the ritual cleanness of religious duty. Rather it’s the inner cleanness of a heart made clean by God’s word, issuing in pure living.