One of those days in which the readings head off in three different directions…
It is surprising that ‘Gideon’ is not a more popular name, for in today’s text he’s so wonderfully human. He obeys the command re the altar, pole, and bull—but does so at night. Under the Spirit’s possession he musters the tribes—and then as he waits for them to arrive requests additional signs of divine favor!
Luke reports of the first converts after Peter’s sermon “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people” (2:44-47a). Impossible not to notice the brutal contrast with Washington’s failure to continue enhanced unemployment benefits in the face of the growing COVID 19 pandemic. “In God we trust” needs an asterisk identifying the god in question.
John’s prologue speaks of Jesus as “full of grace and truth” (v.14) That looks an echo of the Hebrew phrase chesed we’emet (“steadfast love and faithfulness” in Exodus 34:6). At the same, the Greek aletheia ‘truth’ emphasizes more the cognitive (cf. John 8:32; 18:37). Then v.17: “The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” That raises a number of questions we might keep in mind as we continue to read John:
- Would John like Matthew’s “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (5:17)?
- Would John like Paul’s “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. (Rom. 7:12)?
- Where does John show “grace and truth” coming through Jesus in contrast to the law?