4th Sunday after Epiphany

Deuteronomy 18.15-20: This passage is a declaration of God’s prophetic tradition.  God’s prophet is not an inherited position, it is not a popularly elected position, it is not a position for which one prepares and is appointed, nor is it a dynastic position.  God’s prophet is “chosen.”  God will “raise up for them a prophet like (Moses) from among them; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything I command.”  Jewish tradition suggests this passage is an affirmation of a never-ending prophetic presence throughout the ages.  Christian tradition sees this passage pointing to a single messianic prophet, Jesus.  The passage from Deuteronomy ends with an admonition to pay attention to the voice of the prophet as well as a means of recognizing false prophets/prophecy.  The language of the Torah is always intriguing and this passage certainly does not let us down.

Psalm 111

1 Corinthians 8.1-13: This is an extraordinary Pauline passage.  Paul rightly asserts that since idols are really empty expressions of religiosity and point to nothing, there is no real individual harm in eating meat offered to idols.  HOWEVER, since not everyone is so understanding, my individual license in eating such meat may cause confusion to someone who is more immature or struggling in faith.  Knowledge and understanding is a wonderful thing asserts Paul.  Yet compassion, concern, and love for those who may yet not understand fully the meaning of God’s revelation in Jesus is more important than knowledge and understanding.  God will know us by our love, not our wisdom and sophistication.  Therefore, Paul reminds us, be sensitive to our brothers and sisters and refrain from doing things that may confuse them.

Mark 1.21-28:  Once again we have a healing miracle of Jesus.  We should all be aware of the deep concern Jesus has with human wellness.  While in Jesus time it may have been his prayer and command that healed the sick and the possessed, in our time it is access to the resources of good nutrition, living wage, and healthcare that helps each individual be well.  As Jesus was concerned about everyone’s wellness, so too should we be concerned with the societal and economic challenges to wellness.

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