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Boston 1775

Date of publication: 2017-07-09 06:22

Jesus had told Nicodemus that the Spirit (like a wind) blows wherever it pleases. It cannot be kept in a box, contained, controlled or predicted. For followers of Jesus, it’s simply our job to try and keep up with the movements of this Spirit.

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Peter, writing from the center of Roman power and wealth—the origin of Roman culture, addresses the social location of Christians within the empire. They are aliens or foreigners they are homeless within the empire. They live as exiles or refugees.

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But here is the point. The centurion did not rely on his own authority or control. Instead, he trusted Jesus. He believed. He trusted that the authority of Jesus was for the sake of the other, that Jesus would use his authority to heal, redeem, forgive, and love.

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Revolt was not an option in the empire for residents, slaves, or wives. Violence was not an option for Christians. What they could do—and did—was to “do good” and subvert the dominant culture by living exemplary, kind, and gentle lives without returning evil for evil. Since, generally, they had no legal recourse, Christian residents, slaves, and wives suffered abuse and they could not escape their circumstances. Instead, they suffered, following the model of Jesus.

Everyone wants to be chosen, especially those who feel marginalized or undervalued. Many of us remember what it feels like to be the last one chosen in a pickup game of basketball or uninvited to the school party.

This is quite curious, isn’t it? Jonah, a prophet of Yahweh, refuses Yahweh’s commission. The contrast between Yahweh’s command, “Arise and go,” and Jonah’s response, “He arose and fled,” is quite startling, even astounding.

But God will treat them just as they have treated others. Just as they evicted women and children and despoiled peaceful men, so now the powerful will 8775 arise and go 8776 from the land God gave them but without any place to rest. Rather than resting in the land of their God-given inheritance, they will now have nowhere to rest or live. Their actions have corrupted that land and brought down upon themselves a 8775 grievous destruction. 8776 They may soothe themselves with false prophets who promise wine and beer, but their messages are 8775 empty falsehoods 8776 though it scratches the itching ears of these powerful Judeans.

If Jonah had compassion on a single plant—which he did not create and did not exist more than a day, might not God have compassion on Nineveh, which God did create and where numerous people and animals are present? “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh?” rings in the ears of readers as the book ends.

Revelation 65:8-66 reflects the apocalyptic and prophetic traditions of Ezekiel 7:8-8:8. John is told to do what Ezekiel was told to do, that is, to eat the scroll. To eat the scroll is to digest the message of the book. It is to accept the commission to prophesy the message of the Apocalypse, or to declare the fulfillment of the mystery of God.

Rising after what “was probably only minutes,” Mack, still seething with anger and berating his own seeming idiocy, walked out of the shack. “I’m done, God.” He was worn out and “tired of trying to find [God] in all of this” (p. 85).

Peter commends their suffering by offering some perspective on it. He speaks into their suffering so that they might endure it with grace and witness. He offers a way of living through suffering, and this enables believers to see their suffering in the light of God’s blessed activity in the world.

On Friday, February 6, I traveled with our Vienna Study Abroad group to the Nazi concentration camp at Mauthausen, and then we visited the Benedictine monastery in Melk. Geographically, the distance is not so great (about an hour bus ride), but the emotional distance is huge if not traumatic.

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