Re Daily Office Readings 4/8/2020

The Readings: Lamentations 2:1-9; 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11; Mark 12:1-11

I wonder when and why we started reading Lamentations during Holy Week. The Jews used Lamentations on the anniversary of the destruction of the temple; Jesus had spoken of himself as temple (e.g, John 2:19): perhaps that was the route. But once in place, reading Lamentations invites further reflection. Here’s Gregory of Nazianzus on a somewhat different theme: “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved” (Critique of Apollinarius and Apollinarianism). ““For that which He has not assumed He has not healed…” So yes, Jesus’ death under Pontius Pilate is one thing, and our current desolation (COVID-19) and brutal politics another thing, but has Jesus not assumed these too? “If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there” (Ps 139:8b).

When we read the Passion during Holy Week we say/shout “Crucify him!” Today’s Gospel can help us chew on that. Jesus’ parable is a rereading of Isaiah’s vineyard parable (5:1-7), where our sympathies lie with the vineyard owner. Times change, and in Jesus’ time absentee landlords are usually part of the brutal politics “grinding the face of the poor” (also Isaiah: 3:15). So we, heirs of the revolution some 200 years ago against this sort of thing, where do our sympathies lie? What claim does this vineyard owner have on us, really?

April 2020: in what ways are we experiencing this G-d as absent from us, present with us, distant, near?

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