12th Sunday: Cycle C 19th June 2013
The first reading is from a section of the book of Zechariah (12:10f) that was added later – about the year 200 BC. The reading seems to refer to some defeat of an enemy, maybe even the assassination of some leader; but it says the people will repent of this when they realise whom they have ‘pierced,’ and then they will be forgiven by God – a fountain will wash away their sin. This may have referred to the death of their historic king Josiah in the early ‘good old’ days of the nation. Part of the reading is better known because it is referred to in John’s Gospel (chapter 19:37) when it says Jesus’ side was pierced and it flowed with water and blood (the water of baptism and the blood of the Eucharist). There is often an intimation that events in the New Testament echo something in the Old Testament; and this is because it is the same God for both, who deals with similarly stumbling people in the same sort of way – and it’s the same in our lives too!
For the second reading (Gal 3:26-29) we have another short section from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. We already have read that it is his God-given task to bring Christianity to the Gentiles. Now he makes a logical jump in his understanding of this impartial attitude that God has to people, affirming that in God’s eyes all are of equal value. This even applies equally to women and to men – even to people of radically different classes – free people and slaves. This equality in the eyes of God is, however, for Paul limited to those who are baptized and who are in some way children of Abraham.
The gospel is a passage in Luke (Luke 9:18-24) found also in Mark and Matthew with some differences. It is a central point in the story of Jesus and who He is. We know that the Jews in their occupied country had particular ideas about a saviour who would come sent from God. The word ‘Christ’ might be used now like a surname for Jesus, but in His day it was the Greek for the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’ which literally means anointed; the majority of Jews thought that it meant a great king, leader and liberator like how they imagined king David had been, and now hoped that Jesus with his powers and followers might be. But in the Jewish Bible (which we call the Old Testament) there are different expectations and one, that was easily overlooked, was that of a servant coming humbly to help and even to suffer at the hands of those who didn’t want such help. In reply to Peter’s acclamation that he was the Messiah, Jesus uses the phrase Son of Man and adds that He will inevitably suffer and that is the way for his followers too.