Lectionary Year B
March 12, 2000
Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge
A. SUMMARY OF SALIENT FEATURES
(JFC) If there is a "center of gravity" in these verses, it is that the Gospel is Good News. We have definitely three distinctive occurrences; 1) Jesus' baptism, 2) Jesus' time in the wilderness and 3) Jesus' preaching. All three episodes are major issues in the earliest stages of Jesus' ministry. Even the so-called minor concerns weigh more heavily than being put on any back burners. They include the image of the dove, the voice from the rent heaven(s), the Spirit's driving Jesus out into the wilderness and the animals and the angels there, and the content of Jesus' preaching in Galilee. If anything is minor, it might be John's doing the baptism, what the voice says, the forty days, the Adversary and John's arrest. However, finally, I am beginning to see how all these elements contribute to the message of the pericope as a whole.
B. SMOOTH TRANSLATION
(JFC) 9 And it occurred in those (strategic) days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan (River).
10 And immediately, as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens bursting open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on Him. 11 And a voice came from the heavens, (saying,) "You are My Son, the Beloved, and I am well pleased with You." 12 And immediately the Spirit drove (Jesus) out into the wilderness. 13 And He remained out there forty days. The Adversary tempted Him (there). He (Jesus, of course) was with wild animals (out there) and angels ministered to Him. 14 Afterwards (when) John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the Good News of God's (Kingdom). 15 And He said, "The Time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is at hand. (Therefore,) repent and believe in the Good News."
C. HERMENEUTICAL BRIDGE
(JFC)We seem to travel through wilderness after wilderness in these complex days. At least in this country, among those whom I observe, they say their lives are in shambles and they live and/or work (as if) in a jungle. Moral and ethical chaos run rampant in our societies. When "wilderness" was a desirable description of the world as it used to be, the poet Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) wrote "The American Frustration", in Saturday Review, 9 July 1968. Therein, he stated,
"Wilderness and silence disappeared from the countryside, sweetness fell from the air, not because anyone wished them to vanish or fall but because thoroughways had to floor the meadows with cement to carry the automobiles which advancing technology produced . . . Tropical beaches turned into high-priced slums where thousand-room hotels elbowed each other for glimpses of once-famous surf not because those who loved the beaches wanted them but because enormous jets could bring a million tourists every year – and therefore did."
This assessment of MacLeish's reads more like the world we see and fear today as too busy, too impersonal, too fast and too technical. We, today, find life still more trying. We could more readily describe life as a wasteland, a desolate, barren and ravaged condition that fails to fulfill life's promised potentials. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, 1992, defines "wasteland" as "A place, an era, or an aspect of life considered lacking in spiritual, aesthetic or other humanizing qualities; a vacuum; a cultural wasteland." That's more like what we experience similar to Jesus' undergoings in the wilderness with the wild animals, etc. Jesus prepares to face that wilderness before enduring it and preaches ways for us to face the rest of life as it further unfolds for us.
(??) Continuity with gospel of John vis-a vis contrast with gospel of John: The sequence is important - announcing an area for suffering and sin. Why is "good news" linked so clearly to challenge for change (kairos)? Is it pregnant anticipation, or dread or joy? The curtains rend, an experience of dying and rising, a foretaste of what is coming.
What is the promise of therapy? Can you become who you are by going through hell?
To be converted, to come into "good news," is to have to go through darkness.
"Rite of Spring" -- myth/music -- Jesus in the wilderness.
(CU) Possible "kairos" moments: 1) a pivotal question 2) landing on the moon, 3) the Challenger disaster/tragedy 4) the Renaissance
(GG) Perhaps there are personal "kairos" experiences, such as one of prison ministry.
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