Showing posts from September, 2009

September 11th - Eight years later

We notice anniversaries, sometimes in our flesh and bones, even when the calendar date is not consciously marked or observed. It still strikes me as a little jarring when September 11th (2009) is referenced simply as a date on the calendar, when ordinary meetings are scheduled, bars hold happy hours, and movies are premiered. I’m ok with that - it's natural and even good. I’m just noting it as my reaction. Eight years of living means that much has happened since that morning when the sky was bright and clear, and an ordinary day became so deeply marked, profoundly affecting to so many. Those four planes striking the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, and those two collapsing towers, sent out ripples which are still being felt. We have had eight years of wars, with costs far exceeding the heavy toll of 9/11/01. The cruelty perpetrated eight years ago has unfortunately been multiplied in military and civilian casualties, in expressions of ethnic prejudice, in

Who do you say that I am?

The gospel reading for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Mark 8:27-38 . Of course, Jesus' question is not about his identity - who he really is - but how people see him and relate to him. Our answer, of necessity, says more about our self than it can say about Jesus. It seems significant to me that this question comes at a particular place in Mark's gospel. It is the setup for the Transfiguration story, where Jesus' God-given identity will be revealed, shrouded, and misunderstood. But it also comes at a particular place. For the first time in Mark, Jesus is in Roman territory. It is when he approaches the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi that he asks the question. Identity politics were not invented in our generation. Jesus' identity - or how he is seen - has a particular meaning in relation to the empire. The rest of the gospel turns on this point. Is he the Son of God ( divi filius , the same appellation used of Emperor Augustus)? Or is he a rebellious slave wh