In the text, Moses exhorts the people to offer unto God their first fruits in remembrance and thanksgiving for their inheritance of the new land. They have toiled and struggled in the wilderness for many years and have come at long last to the place of divine promise. God has been good to them. God has kept his promises and has brought them to a place of great wealth and prosperity. The soil is ripe for planting and harvesting. The hills and valleys are rich with minerals. The water flows like milk and foliage tastes of honey. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the earth is good.
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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.