Week of Epiphany 5, Year One
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 80 (morning) // 71,  (evening)
One of the most common strategies for helping ourselves feel more in control after catastrophic events is to make them seem predictable in hindsight. Surely a given crisis in the weather, in politics, or in personal relationships was predictable, foreseeable, or maybe even preventable if only we’d interpreted the signs correctly. Thus, the early Christian community devoted a lot of energy to making the crucifixion of Jesus seem predictable in retrospect.
Our third reading for this morning includes one of three “Passion predictions” in Mark’s gospel. Along with other previews and foreshadowings of Jesus’s death by crucifixion, the Passion predictions form a narrative in which the disciples could have known, and should have known, what would happen to Jesus. Today, Jesus says, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” For those of us who know the gospel story, this is an obvious preview of how that story will end.
But the strong impulse to make the crucifixion seem predictable also makes the disciples look foolish. As the gospel tells us, the disciples don’t understand Jesus, and they’re afraid to ask for further explanation. Because they lack comprehension and courage, the crucifixion will take them by surprise.
Yet I tend to think that the crucifixion could hardly have been predicted. These early disciples simply persisted in following Jesus without predicting, let alone controlling, the outcomes of Jesus’ life and ministry. As we follow him today, let’s worry less about the predictions that help us feel in control, and instead allow Jesus to accompany us in our confusion and uncertainty.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.