Monday, March 15

Lenten Meditations 2012

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Monday, March 15

Psalm 89: 1-18; Gen. 49:1-28; 1 Cor. 10:14-11:1; Mark 7:24-37

Genesis 49: 1-28


It is nice to know that even the Israelites had to deal with dysfunctional families. That is the only way I can understand how this passage from Genesis can have meaning for us since it delineates, in good, Old Testament fashion, the sins for which Jesus was crucified. Jacob’s sons, whose futures are being foretold here just before Jacob’s death, are not very nice people to their father or to their community. Simeon and Levi are cruel. Benjamin preys upon people. Dan is a snake. Reuben is just plain old nuts.

But the Old Testament, more than depicting history, is also poetry, and poetry is formed by metaphor, a suggestion that what initially seems to be is only the first pass at knowing. In this case, I am struck by how much the descriptions of these sons are not simply character studies, but are the sins, too, of a greater group of people, the twelve tribes.

More importantly, they are sins that I see now in the people who make the local newspapers or with whom I work or with whom I go to church. But the metaphor goes deeper: the sins of Jacob’s sons are my sins, too. I am simultaneously the weak and potentially evil Reuben, Levi, Simeon, Zebulon, Issacher, Dan, Gad, and the others.

But here’s the hope and prophecy of this passage: I am also fruitful like Joseph and strong like Judah (and, being a good Episcopalian, I’d like to have my eyes be red with wine). I know this because Lent promises me that with my penitence, my faith in a righteous Lord, and my eschewing of false idols that allow me to focus on my weaknesses, I can be strong and fruitful in the way of God.

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