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Speaking to the Soul: Unpredictable

Speaking to the Soul: Unpredictable

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, [79] (evening)

Isaiah 58:1-12

Galatians 6:11-18

Mark 9:30-41

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.


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Elouise Weaver

… All of us (who come to saving faith) have to experience the shock of the crucifixion. It shakes us from head to toe so we will never be the same. I can see why the disciples didn’t want their Messiah to go to the cross…none of us do! But if we devise another way, for us to ‘rise from the dead’, then we align ourselves with Satan, who also tried to tempt Jesus away from the crucifixion .

Jesus was always honest with his disciples, trying to help them understand as best he could with parables, similes, and plain language. (It was Jesus who made the prediction, not the disciples –Mark 9:31) Although, I think the word ‘prediction’ doesn’t quite fit …because ‘prediction’ means foretelling something that may or may not happen.

I don’t think the disciples were confused or spent a lot of time trying to gain back ‘control’ after the resurrection. They were familiar with the raising of the dead by God, as they had heard of son of Zarephaths’ widow (1Kings17); the son of Shunammite woman (2Kings4); the man who came to life after touching Elisha’s bones (1Kngs13), also the widow’s son (Luke 7); Jairus’ daughter (Matt9), and Lazarus (John 11), all of them–rose from the dead.

What they wrestled with (and hoped it would just go away) , was the suffering and rejection that Jesus was assigned to. ….(and what we are assigned to!) The disciples went on to become martyrs …similarly , we are asked , ‘if you wish to follow Me, you must deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Me.’

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