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Posts Tagged ‘failure’


Luke 4:16-30: The Brow of the Hill

Friday, March 8. 2019

Jesus

Today we remind ourselves that Jesus was rejected in his hometown and this ought to help us feel better about our failures both perceived and real.  They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed through the midst of them and went away.  I am reading this and thinking that Jesus lives most of his life on the brow of the hill, at danger of being hurled down headlong.  We know how Jesus died and so we understand that finally the jealousy, anger and fear took over enough people to drown out the voices of the faithful followers.  We also know, because we have read the story and heard it told to us each Eastertide, that death did not put an end to Jesus and his kingdom; rather, it birthed a movement and a way of being that swept the world and changed human history forever.  We need to remember all of this when we find ourselves on the brow of the hill outside our own hometown or any place else.  We need to remember that what we first perceive as an end will become a beginning through Christ.  We need to remember that what we fear becomes our joy through Christ.  We need to remember that nothing can obliterate us and God restores and saves.  We need to remember that God turns all harm to good.  We need to remind ourselves that when we live and move in the Spirit we are infinite and eternal.  We need to remind ourselves that when we pray and act in the Spirit, nothing is impossible.  He passed through the midst of them and went away.

What did Jesus do or say that angered those who had known him from birth?  A few days ago we heard the Isaiah 61:1-2a reading that Jesus found and read from the scroll.  The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . there are those who resent good things happening to other people.  He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and release to the prisoners, and a day of vindication by our God . . . there are those who want to be the only giver of goodness, the only advocate for peace.  There are those who want to control even the goodness of God.

The Isaiah reading continues: I rejoice heartily in the Lord . . . and so must we even in the face of disappointment.  My God is the joy of my soul . . . and so we turn to him when we are rejected and scorned.  He has clothed me with a robe of salvation . . . God will leave the ninety-nine safe and secure to seek for and save the one lost sheep.  He has wrapped me in a mantel of justice . . . God will right wrongs and mend brokenness in God’s time and place.

The people in the synagogue were all filled with fury . . . we have the opportunity to respond to Jesus’ Advent into our lives with impatience and resentment.  At the same time we have the opportunity to welcome him into our lives even when we know that following Jesus is difficult work.

Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing . . . we do not have to wait for some distant and unknown day to celebrate God’s saving power; rather we can proclaim our joy today and every day.  We can willing follow Christ even to the brow of the hill secure in the knowledge that although we fear being hurled headlong down the precipice Jesus stands with us to lead us through the midst of them . . . to lead us to eternal safety and joy.


For an insightful blog posting on the Luke reading in today’s Noontime, click the Jesus image above and follow the link.  For a site that has information about films about Jesus, click on the image below.

1977 film: Jesus of Nazareth

A re-post from December 13, 2011.

Images from: http://fralfonse.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html and http://biblefilms.blogspot.com/2010/11/comparison-jesus-gospel-manifesto.html

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2 Samuel 10Open to Failure

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorè: David Attacks the Ammonites

We might take a lesson from both David and the Ammonites today; and each of these lessons will save us suffering if we can be open to their message.  From the Ammonites who expect insult and war, we see that when we take a bellicose stance, we guarantee our suffering.  It seems we humans are often eager to fulfill our own dark hope.  Nestled against Israel’s eastern boundary, this tribe may have felt a kind of national inferiority.  Along with the Moabites, these descendents of Lot struggled to maintain peace within and along their borders.  Rightly or wrongly, the young king Hanun took an aggressive stance against David when he rejected David’s offer of amity and instead sought allegiance against Israel with the Arameans, another small kingdom to the north.  All hope for independence is dashed and in the end these Ammonites – whose rudeness stirs the Israelites to revenge – becomes subject to Israel, and the Arameans stand down from their aggressive posture.  We can never know if David somehow plotted in hopes that this scheme would bring him a vassal state; but we can easily see that the ultimate outcome for the Ammonites was the same – or perhaps even worse.  When we expect insult and take a bellicose stance, we guarantee our suffering.

Van Honthorst: King David Playing the Harp

The major player in this reading is, of course, David and from him today we might learn: We are most open to failure when we are at our most secure.  From the HarperCollins Bible Commentary, “If, on the one hand, we think of the Ammonite war as after the events of chap. 8, we are struck by the rapidity with which what appeared secure has again become a threat. If, on the other hand, we read the war account as a flashback, we may be struck by the irony of the context in which David’s adultery and murder have been set.  It is at the very peak of his power, when YHWY is giving him victory wherever he goes (8:14), that the king most conspicuously fails.  Security breeds insecurity; success incubates failure.  It is as the gift of the kingdom is being made complete that YHWY’s chosen one chooses to grasp most rapaciously what is not his to grasp.  In short, it is at his most secure that David turns out to be most open to failure”.  (Mays 269)

We know this statement to be true if we take an honest look at our own lives and at the lives of friends and enemies.  Cinema and literature reinforce the universal concept that we learn from our mistakes rather than our successes.  We also know that we are most conciliatory, most ready to listen, and most open to change when we are faced with multiple obstacles; and that we are most closed, most deaf to common sense, and most eager to control our environment and others when we are at the peak of accomplishment.  All of this is perhaps because we have forgotten some central truths: that God is the author of all good, that we can choose to enter into this goodness with God or we can choose reject God in the belief that we alone are responsible for all that has gone well in our lives.  In short, it is at our most secure that we turn out to be most open to failure.

In David’s actions and thinking, and in the actions and thinking of the Ammonites, we discover the hidden pitfalls of success and promises of disappointment.  We find an openness to failure that is certain to bring great pain and a guarantee of hardship and suffering.  None of this suggests that success is something to be avoided or that failure is the mark of holiness.  On the contrary, we experience happiness and joy despite our failures and along with our successes at precisely those times when we nurture an openness to God and forego our natural tendency to remain open to failure.


A re-post from September 12, 2011.

For more information about the Ammonites we might take a look at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01431b.htm and http://www.bible-history.com/geography/maps/map_of_ammonites_territory.html. OR https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ammonite 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 269. Print.

Images from: http://www.mundellchristianchurch.com/art/2Sam-12-David-Attacks-the-Ammonites.html

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Luke 4:24-30: The Brow of the Hill, A Reprise

Monday, February 29, 2016Jesus-Icon1

How do we rise again once we have failed? How do we handle jealousy and envy, our own and that of others? Where do we find our escape route on the brow of the hill and how do we get to it when the world crowds around us? Today’s Gospel calls us to re-visit the December 2011 post on how Jesus reacts to the rejection he experiences in his own home town. When we realize that those closest to us seem like strangers, we read these verses and consider how Jesus is rejected in his own hometown. We reflect on how he escapes the anger of those he wants to save. And we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

For the original post, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/12/13/the-brow-of-the-hill/ 

Tomorrow, seventy-seven times.

 

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