Under the banner of the rainbow
Gender and peace movements are attending to the matter of the rainbow: the mission of the colorful light effect is world embracing self-delight drunk on peace. An ideal world. The ancient tale of Noah knew more.
People will always be at risk of pressure, jealousy, rifts. Sometimes injustice gains the upper hand, then the level of violence rises like a flood. God establishing the rainbow symbol of the covenant is poetic language. It speaks of the confidence that man can find an answer to his questions: How can violence be overcome? How can justice be found, and peace? He doesn’t simply find the answer in himself though. He has to search for it, be on the lookout. The entire history of Israel, even the history of humanity, can be read as a search for this positing, as a discovery of what is right. acb
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” God added: “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.”
At the beginning of a new year the upcoming anniversaries are named. This year: 50 years since the student revolt of 1968, starting from Paris. Some even speak of a revolution. One for more freedom from societal restraints. Renewal! A completely new society was supposed to forge ahead. Broadly speaking: Everyone was looking for something new. And now, 50 years later?
We only flee any change. And fear the worldwide upheavals. The disciples said to Jesus: “Everyone is looking for you”. What a sentence! Israel is seeking. The next step in its history, the approach towards the promised. The overcoming of the gulf between the “already”, what God has fulfilled, and the “not yet”, the human readiness for the new. For the disciples this concretely means: “Simon and those who were with him pursued him.” Israel starts a psalm with: “O God, you are my God – it is you I seek.” When we don’t search anymore, don’t seek for God and His will – what then? bek
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
The Jews consider Moses the greatest prophet. Moses understood God’s intention so well that it is said he talked “eye to eye” with him.
When the people had lost faith, Moses could talk with God at eye level and stand up for the people. When no one understood anymore, the people needed Moses as a translator. Thus, the voice of God was rendered into the liberating law of Israel. When the people didn’t even understand Moses anymore, they received the promise that a new prophet will come, who understands God directly. tac
Moses spoke to all the people, saying: “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”
As if not
No other word defines the existence of the believer as precisely as the pauline “as if not”. For wherein do the members of the community differ from the other residents of Corinth?
They buy and sell, laugh and cry, marry, have children. They do it differently though: They use the things without depending on them. They think about tomorrow, yet live in today, act at their own risk and let the others win with them. Even someone floating through space detachedly couldn’t be freer than them. mim
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.
Are you living yet?
I’ve never quite understood the furniture store’s slogan: “Are you living yet or do you just reside …?” That is what residing means: live, it means more than just screwing a couple of boards together to sit on.
Hence the question to Jesus: Where do you reside? It was more than: What is your address? Rather: How do you live? How do we see who you are and what you want? Jesus’ answer: Come and you will see! His residence is the gathering of Israel and living together with his disciples, the life, which he means. acb
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
The gospel speaks of people and places as a means to tell of the opened heavens. For the baptism John chooses exactly the spot along the 600 km long river Jordan, at which the people entered the Promised Land under Joshua.
Israel has to reenter the land again. Jesus also comes to John and lets himself dive into the current history of his people. Among the many, who were baptized, is he, who witnesses and sees the spirit of which John speaks. Above Jesus the heavens are opened and through him the Promised Land is opened anew to Israel. hak
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Wonder or Miracle?
“What can you give me?” Admittedly, that’s coming it strong, answering the Highest like this. Abraham, the first Jew, gives the Lord this answer. With that he shows his levelheaded mind; for how should God’s promise of the great reward become true when Abraham is childless and – like his wife Sara – already old?
With this healthy skepticism Abraham determines the grounds on which wonders become possible, not miracles; because wonders require the participation of man. That differentiates wonders and miracles. And it is Abraham, the first Jew, who supplies the history-making example for this. To the repeated, now detailed promise of God that Abraham will have numerous descendants he reacts: “Abraham put his faith in the Lord.” And “Sara became pregnant”. After the first big bang, the “conception” of the cosmos, this was the second: Israel developed, the people of God. Through the faith of a single person. The first wonder of the bible, which had more in its lap. That this people is still alive after a 3000 year history – at the same time a history of perpetual persecutions – in its own land again at that, is a miracle equal to the beginning with Abraham. It is like a shining star, also over the third century. bek
The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?” Abram continued, “See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir.” The Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” bram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness. The LORD took note of Sarah as he had said he would; he did for her as he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time that God had stated. Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his whom Sarah bore him.
Where does God live?
The successful king through God’s grace, the great David, wants to give God back his due: God should not be worse off than he is, he too should live in a splendid house. It even takes the prophet a while to realize: by this David would lock God in a house, as is customary in religions.
This God, however, does not have a permanent residence, neither is he a king’s subtenant. It is God’s way to travel with his people, to lead the way, and kings and prophets have to try to keep up. tac
When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!" Nathan answered the king, “Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.” But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: “Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?’ “It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old, since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”
The message of the third Sunday of Advent is easy to understand: “Gaudete – Rejoice! Be happy!” What is left to explain? Particularly he, who has read the 60 chapters before that, will understand Isaiah’s good news.
For who rejoices there? And why? It is the war-ravaged city of Jerusalem unexpectedly being rebuilt and repopulated. Like a bride she adorns herself for her groom. Thus the word of the prophet searches for the right listeners to this day: those that find their joy in Jerusalem being rebuilt. mim
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God. I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.
End and Beginning
The end has always been interesting to everyone. The end of one’s life and the end of the world. When will it come? And how? And what will happen? The Jewish people were not interested in the end for a thousand years.
They left speculations about the afterlife and Last Judgment scenarios to the Egyptians. What moved them were the beginnings. How does something new come into the world? A people of free human beings? Solidarity, justice, peace? Such a beginning is recounted this Sunday: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ…”. Somebody attracts attention through his special language, through his unusual life style. He does not make himself bigger than he is. It begins with him. acb
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”