Preaching The Lectionary Psalms for Cycles A, B, C
(See Proper 21/Pentecost 19/Ordinary Time 26, Cycle C, for an alternative approach to vv. 1-6 and 14-16.)
We immediately recognize a portion of this psalm as part of the dialogue between Jesus and the devil in the temptation narratives. In the well-known scene, the devil suggests to Jesus that if he jumped from one of the high towers of the temple, God would not allow him to be injured. The devil assures Jesus that no harm will come to him because "he will command his angels concerning you ... on their hands they will bear you up" (vv. 11-12).
UPCOMING WEEKS In addition to the lectionary resources there are thousands of non-lectionary, scripture based resources...
Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.