Epiphany IV (January 29, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Ps. 111; Deut. 18:15-20; I Cor. 8:1-13; Mk. 1:21-28
The big success story for this week was getting our annual residency renewals. Cindy gets the credit this year for navigating the bureaucratic web and emerging with Jordanian residency cards that are good until January 2013. We also enjoyed hosting several young adults for lunch on Wednesday, and hearing about their justice-oriented work in Jordan.
In the coming week we will briefly host a group of students from Eastern Mennonite University and welcome Ron Byler (MCC U.S. Executive Director), Cheryl Zehr Walker (MCC U.S. Communications Director) and Rick Janzen (MCC Europe-Middle East Co-Director). We plan to travel to Iraq and Palestine with our MCC guests.
In the region this week:
- Egyptians marked one year since the beginning of their revolution.
- Exploratory talks between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government – talks to consider whether to resume formal peace negotiations — concluded in Jordan without any substantive progress. Meanwhile, popular calls for political reform in Jordan continue.
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran is ready to talk with world powers about his country’s nuclear program, one year after similar talks collapsed in Turkey. Ahmadinejad said that tougher sanctions against Iran will not force it to make concessions regarding its nuclear program.
- In Syria, Dr. Abdulrazaq Jbeiro, the secretary-general of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society was shot and killed while driving between Damascus and northwestern Syria. A Christian priest was one of 24 Syrians killed on Wednesday; he died while assisting a wounded man. The U.N. Security Council will meet to discuss an Arab League plan which calls for Syria’s President Bashar Assad to step down.
The Common Lectionary readings focus on the one true God.
In the Epistle reading, Paul writes that, while there are many so-called gods, in truth “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (I Cor. 8:6)
For this reason, the psalmist declares that he will give thanks to this great God “with my whole heart.” (Ps. 111:1) This God is “full of honor and majesty” (v.3). This God’s works are faithful and just, established forever and ever (vv.7-8).
In the Old Testament reading, Moses says that true prophets will speak only in the name of God. Indeed, God will punish any prophet who speaks “in the name of other gods” (Deut. 18:20).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus demonstrates the authority of this one God by commanding an unclean spirit to be silent and to leave the man the spirit was tormenting (Mk. 1:26). The unclean spirit obeyed, to the amazement of the crowd in Capernaum (v.27).
Much of the world’s violence and injustice is rooted in the human pursuit of false gods – the belief that security comes through wealth, power or by dominating others for one’s own benefit or pleasure. In selfishly pursuing such gods, humans harm one another and our planet.
Five times a day, the call to prayer sounds from the minarets of mosques dotting the hills of Amman. Each prayer begins, “God is the Greatest! I bear witness that there is no God except God.”
The world would be a more just and peaceful place if we truly believed this and lived our lives accordingly.