Week of Proper 17: Friday, Year 1   16 comments

Above: Porter with a Wineskin, by Niko Pirosmanashvili

Image in the Public Domain

Sincerely Wrong



Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Colossians 1:15-20 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He is the image of the unseen God

and the first-born of creation,

for in him were created

all things in heaven and on earth:

everything visible and everything invisible,

Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers–

all things were created through him and for him.

Before anything was created, he existed,

and now he holds all things in unity.

Now the Church is his body,

he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,

he was first to be born from the dead,

so that he should be first in every way;

because God wanted all perfection

to be found in him

and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,

everything in heaven and everything on earth,

when he made peace

by his death on the cross.

Psalm 100 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands;

serve the LORD with gladness

and come before his presence with a song.

2 Know this:  The LORD himself is God;

he himself has made us, and we are his;

we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

go into his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

4 For the LORD is good;

his mercy is everlasting;

and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Luke 5:33-39 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Then they [the Pharisees and their scribes] said to him [Jesus],

John’s disciples are always fasting and the disciples of the Pharisees too, but yours go on eating and drinking.

Jesus replied,

Surely you cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them?  But the time will come, the time for the bridegroom to be taken away from them; that will be the time when they will fast.

He also told them this parable,

No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.

And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost.  No; new wine must be put into fresh skins.  And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new.  ‘The old is good’ he says.”


The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.


The Canadian Anglican lectionary skips over some parts of Luke 5, so here is what we missed:

  • Jesus cured a leper.  Our Lord’s reputation grew so much that he experienced difficulty finding a quiet place to pray.  (5:12-16)
  • Jesus cured a paralytic and faced criticism from scribes and Pharisees.  (5:17-26)
  • Jesus called Levi/Matthew, a tax collector for and collaborator with the Roman Empire, as an Apostle.  Levi/Matthew followed Jesus.  (5:27-28)
  • Jesus dined with Levi/Matthew with other tax collectors and notorious sinners at Levi/Matthew’s house.  When scribes and Pharisees saw this, they were scandalized?  (What were they doing there?  Did they not have their own business to mind?)  Jesus answered their criticism by saying, “I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.”  (5:29-32)

Most of the related posts for which I have provided links pertain to the parallel readings in Matthew and Mark for these passages.  The other posts discuss the Mark and Matthew parallel readings for this day’s reading from Luke.  There is a logical sequence these related posts:  Mark parallel reading and matching Matthew parallel reading, then the next Mark parallel reading and matching Matthew parallel reading.

So, as Luke tells the story, Jesus fields the question about why his disciples did not fast.  This opened the door for our Lord to discuss not becoming so attached to tradition that one discounts the value of that which is new.  This was an unveiled criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, who found no lack of faults in Jesus, regardless of what he did or did not do.

As I ponder these critics I think that many, if not most, of them found Jesus sincerely baffling.  It is easy to label these critics as Jesus in stereotypical terms, much like mustache-twirling villains from cartoons of old.  Certainly at least one critic of our Lord fit that description.  But perhaps most did not.  I suspect that they were so wedded to their traditions that they could not see their own blind spots.  So they reacted defensively to Jesus.  They were sincere, but sincerely wrong.

Also sincerely wrong were the Gnostics of Colossae.  The orthodox Church Fathers of the first five centuries of the Christian faith disagreed about many points, including the mechanics of the Atonement, but all of them agreed that Jesus was the Incarnate of Son of God, and that the Incarnation was crucial to the Atonement.  But Gnosticism denied the Incarnation, and therefore the Atonement.  Gnostics claimed that matter was evil, so Jesus could not have had a human body.  He was not really human, they said.  He was never born, never ate dinner (even with Matthew and other notorious sinners), never died, and never rose again.  How could he, given that he had no body, they asked.

So Paul’s profound disagreement with the Gnostics was understandable.  This day’s reading from Colossians consist of a poem that Paul either wrote or quoted.  This portion of verse summarizes much of sound Christology in just a few lines.

In the case of the Gospel, it was new and full of much worth.  Gnosticism was newer and replete with dross, however.  And, to return to the Lukan context, Judaism was not devoid of value, either.  So the mere fact that something theological is either old or new does not indicate its worthiness or lack thereof.  There is much value is those things that are old, as well as in those that are of a more recent vintage.  The wise man or woman can discern among them.

And those who cannot are sincerely wrong.



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