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Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Homily – Luke 2:22 – 40 ©

The Gospel According to Luke – 2017.12.31

Fulfillment Propaganda, and Mythology

Read the narrative carefully.

It is mythology and propaganda, as such it is a deviation from the way, for the way is always found in the service of the truth.

The gospel writers gave us narratives concerning the early life of Jesus that are works of fiction, and while their intention was to help spread the Good News, and they were not acting with malice. Nevertheless they subverted the real teaching of Jesus, and left the burgeoning movement exposed to corruption.

The writer of Luke asks us to believe this narrative concerning Jesus, that he obeyed the “law,” following the forms of ritual and blood sacrifice that were proscribed in the books of his ancestors, ostensibly lending credibility to the claims of Jesus’ holiness, that he fulfills all of the ancient requirements, setting aside the realities of the prophetic tradition that Jesus stood in, the tradition that prefers acts of mercy over animal sacrifices.

Jesus taught us that the way was to be found in service; service to God, the creator of the universe through the service we provide to one another, not in the fulfillment of corrupt rituals, blood-magic, and the service to the temple.

Jesus was not a magician, Jesus was not a supernatural being. He was an ordinary man, who led an extraordinary life, and was killed for ordinary reasons: greed, jealousy, fear.

Jesus only merited the status of Christ insofar as Jesus led a life of service, which he did. He served his people to the bitter end.

We are all Christ, baptized or not, insofar as we follow the way of his example.

The mythologization of Jesus was a subversion of the way because it suggested that the ordinary service Jesus called us to, the service he exemplified, came from a place of supernatural power.

The gospel narrative serves to mythologize other people, Anna, and Simeon; ascribing to them extraordinary insight, and powers beyond the scope of normal people. Allowing for a continued separation of the people, between the ordinary believer and those who live their lives in the church or temple, between clergy and layperson, this is a disservice to the way.

My eyes have seen your salvation

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

  Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

  There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

  When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

1st Sunday of Christmas