Our readings direct our attention to the question of our legacy, what we receive from the past and pass on to future generations. In today’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, at the end of his life Moses goes to the top of Mount Pisgah to glimpse the future. He has been withal a faithful servant leader to a difficult, willful people — not perfect, but he has pleased God. What he has received from God over a lifetime he has imparted with great integrity to the people. As his spirit departs the earth, the text even has our anthropomorphic God buries Moses. The Psalmist todayRead More →

The series of encounters among Jesus and his detractors continues today, but now with a twist. First, they take the offensive, hoping to silence Jesus before they lose credibility with the people. Second, this is an alliance of strange bedfellows. The principal detractors are the Pharisees, who were patriotic and puritanical — the anointed protectors of the Law. They were what we would now call Bible literalists, keeping the letter of Torah at the expense of its spirit, not unlike today’s religious fundamentalists or those jurists calling themselves constitutional originalists. Joining Pharisees for this episode are Herodians, who are Jews who have sold out toRead More →

Today we have yet another parable from the Matthaean community. In the story proper, a king is giving a wedding banquet for his son. Those whom he chooses to invite make excuses for not attending. They have things to do at home, or have to get to the office, or whatever. When challenged, they inexplicably turn violent towards the king’s royal servants; and he, in turn retaliates, sending out troops to level their city! Then the king instructs his servants to go out and invite everyone they can find to attend the banquet. Clearly we are reading about God’s invitation to enter the Kingdom —Read More →

In today’s Gospel reading, the religious establishment again challenge the authority by which Jesus ministers. He responds with a story, in which a landowner sets up a vineyard, leases it to tenants, and goes abroad. When he sends out his servants at harvest time to collect his produce, the tenants injure and kill them. Sending a second, larger deputation for the purpose results in the same. Finally, in desperation he sends his son and the wicked tenants execute that heir. The chief priests and entourage naturally have to admit that the faithless tenant deserve ultimate punishment. Jesus is citing and metaphorically applying Isaiah’s depiction ofRead More →