Thirty-Fourth Day of Lent   12 comments

The Scapegoat, by William Holman Hunt (1854)

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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Ezekiel 37:21-28 (Revised English Bible):

[The Lord GOD has said:] say to them:

The Lord GOD has said: I am going to take the Israelites from their places of exile among the nations; I shall assemble them from every quarter and restore them to their own soil.  I shall make them a single nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be over them all.  No longer will they be two nations, no longer divided into two kingdoms.  They will never again be defiled with their idols, their loathsome ways, and all their acts of disloyalty.  I shall save them from all their sinful backsliding and purify them.  Thus they will be my people, and I shall be their God.  My servant David will be king over them; they will all have one shepherd.  They will conform to my laws and my statutes and observe them faithfully.  They will live in the land which I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your forefathers lived.  They and their descendants will live there for ever, and my servant David is to be their prince for ever.  I shall make an everlasting covenant with them to ensure peace and prosperity.  I shall greatly increase their numbers, and I shall put my sanctuary in their midst for all time.  They will live under the shelter of my dwelling; I shall be their God and they will be my people.  The nations will know that I the LORD am keeping Israel sacred to myself, because my sanctuary is in their midst for ever.

Psalm 85:1-7 (Revised English Bible):

LORD, you have been gracious to your land

and turned the tide of Jacob’s fortunes.

You have forgiven the guilt of your people

and put all their sins away.

You have withdrawn all your wrath

and turned from your hot anger.

God our saviour, restore us

and abandon your displeasure towards us.

Will you be angry with us for ever?

Must your wrath last for all generations?

Will you not give us new life

that your people may rejoice in you?

LORD, show us your love

and grant us your deliverance.

John 11:45-53 (Revised English Bible):

[Contextual note:  This reading occurs immediately after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.]

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary [of Bethany], and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.  But some of them went off to the Pharisees and reported what he had done.

Thereupon the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a meeting of the Council.

This man is performing many signs,

they said,

and what action are we taking?  If we let him go on like this the whole populace will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away our temple and our nation.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said,

You have no grasp of the situation at all; you do not realize that it is more to your interest that one man should die for the people, than that the whole nation should be destroyed.

He did not say this of his own accord, but as the high priest that year he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation, and not the for the nation alone but to gather together the scattered children of God.  So from that day they plotted his death.

The Collect:

O Lord, in your goodness you bestow abundant graces on your elect: Look with favor, we entreat you, upon those who in these Lenten days are being prepared for Holy Baptism, and grant your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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In this day’s readings we have the love and forgiveness of God juxtaposed with the faithlessness of people.  Ezekiel told of a restored Jewish nation, where the people would serve God and a member of the Davidic dynasty would rule the people.  And when Jesus the Messiah, of the lineage of David, arrived, many of the people unto whom he came rejected him.

The Jews of Judea lived under Roman occupation.  The Romans were paradoxical; they could be both tolerant and tyrannical.  They tolerated the exercise of Judaism as an old religion, exempting Jews from certain obligations, such as sacrificing to the gods for the sake of the empire.  Yet they cracked down severely on rebellions.  History tells of the First Jewish War, in which the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, and the Second Jewish War of the 130s, in which the Romans crushed a rebellion which a self-proclaimed Messiah led.

Let us consider more historical context.  The Feast of the Passover was near.  This was the annual commemoration of God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  In Jesus’ day people celebrated this in Roman-occupied Jerusalem.  If any man were to declare himself the Messiah and lead the charge against the Romans, he would do so at Passover, a politically potent religious event.  The Romans, being aware of the potential security situation, patrolled this annual feast heavily.

Therefore, fears of a potential Roman crackdown because of Jesus’ activities were reasonable.  Yet the scapegoating of Jesus was not.  Scapegoating makes the scapegoaters feel better without solving any problems.  It is a way of appearing to do something constructive while doing something destructive.  This is especially harmful to the scapegoat.

Holy Week is next.  Let us take the final steps of Lent together.

KRT

Written on March 17, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/scapegoating/

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Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2020, April 4, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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