Last revised: February 12, 2010
SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY -- YEAR C
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RCL: Genesis 45:3-11, 15; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38
RoCa: 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Luke
Genesis 45:3-11, 15
1. René Girard, Things
link here to pp.
149-154 which reflect on the story of Joseph. Girard also takes up
the Joseph story as crucial to his argument in I
See Satan Fall Like Lightning concerning "The Uniqueness of the
Bible" (ch. 9).
2. James G. Williams, The Bible,
Violence & the Sacred; ch. 2 is on "Enemy Brothers" in the
book of Genesis, coupled with the Parable of the Prodigal Son (and his
older brother), pp. 54-60 on "Joseph and His Brothers: The Triumph of the
3. Sandor Goodhart, "'I am Joseph': René Girard and the
Prophetic Law," pp. 53-74 in the collection of essays edited by Paul Dumouchel,
and Truth: On the Work of René Girard. Also, this essay was
edited for Goodhart's subsequent book, Sacrificing
Commentary: Reading the End of Literature, as ch. 3, "'I am Joseph':
Judaism, Anti-Idolatry, and the Prophetic Law," pp. 99-121.
4. James Alison, Faith Beyond
Resentment, first paragraph of the introduction and following.
Alison uses Joseph to introduce the theme of Faith Beyond Resentment.
He says, for example:
Joseph exercised Pharaoh's generosity as though he had never
undergone any of the experiences which led him to his position. He was
so entirely free of any sort of resentment that he was able to imagine
an entirely generous and sustained program for the reconciliation of his
brothers, and act it out in such a way that they were eventually able to
get the point, overcome their fratricide and be reconciled.
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
1. James Alison, The Joy of
Being Wrong, p. 214; and Raising
Abel, p. 122.
2. Raymund Schwager, Jesus
in the Drama of Salvation, p. 216.
1. Gil Bailie, "The Gospel
of Luke" lecture series, tape #4. Here are my notes for the portion
of his lecture pertaining to this passage:
2. René Girard, Things Hidden,
p. 198. Here is the section entitled "The
Preaching of the Kingdom," pp. 196-202, which feature the Sermon on
Reads 6:27-31: "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good
to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse
you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from
anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to
everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not
ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you."
In other words, don't do to others as they do to you, but as you would
have them do to you. Doing onto others as they do to you is the old world
of reciprocity. Jesus asks us to do as you would have them do. Love your
enemies. Why? Because they're really nice people after all? Not necessarily.
This is the most radical thing in the gospel. [end of side 1]
James Breech, The Silence of Jesus, says "Jesus is the most loving
and least sentimental man one could imagine." "Love your enemies" is not
sentimentality. This is something that goes right to the heart of it. Jesus
says, "...do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray
for those who abuse you." And watch what happens. This is a recipe for
destroying the little bundle of lies about myself and my society that came
into existence the moment my tribe and I found somebody to hate. (Like
the Gerasene demoniac.) Following this injunction is not just a nice thing
to do. It's a matter of destroying the whole system of mystification which
has been the womb in which you've lived and moved and had your social existence.
It's the recipe for deconstructing the whole business. We have to recognize
the profundity of that.
An observation by Christopher Dawson, the historian [source: Religion
and the Rise of Western Culture, pp. 80-83]: some of the archaic cultures
existed in Scandinavia into the twelfth century. There were priest-kings
who offered sacrifices on behalf of the people, and then were sacrificed
themselves if their sacrifices didn't work. Dawson talks about how the
coming of Christianity shoved a stick in the spokes of that whole system.
Quote: "It was hard for warlike barbarians to accept the Christian ethic
of renunciation and forgiveness in their rulers who had been the living
embodiment of their pride of blood, as we see from St. Bede's story of
King Sigebert of Essex who was killed 'because he was wont to spare his
enemies and to forgive them their wrongs they had done as soon as he asked
them.'" [p. 82] He was trying to love his enemies, and his people rose
up and killed him. That suggests he was tampering with a mechanism that's
very dear to conventional culture. "Love your enemies" is not just some
pious little moralism; it is something that will deconstruct the whole
New York Times article about Freedom House, an international rights organization
that tends to care for those who are seen as enemies, being challenged
in the United Nations.
Reads 6:39-42: He also told them a parable: "Can a blind person guide a
blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the
teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.
Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the
log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Friend, let
me take out the speck in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log
in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's
This cluster of sayings has to do with what Girard calls the problem of
the doubles. That is to say, being caught up in the melodramatic entanglement
in which you're scandalized by them, and vice versa; you're condemning
them and they're condemning you. When we're inside such a system of doubles,
it's the blind leading the blind. We can't get out. Someone who is not
part of the doubling has to step in and get your attention.
Sebastian Moore says something like, 'Jesus comes and entices us, lures
us, arouses our desire for him. We are caught up in being fascinated by
each other, and he steps in to catch our fascination. He came in; he can
get out. And we can follow him out.
The gospel here is talking about models. If we model on each other, you're
going to fall into the pit of seeing the speck in your neighbor's eye,
while the neighbor also sees the log in yours. We are convinced that it's
each other's problem, and we cannot see our participation in this doubling,
this acting like each other. This is the world of mimetic crisis. Everyone
is looking at everybody else, and there's nothing there to help one transcend
it. The blind leading the blind. The model should be one who is not blinded.
There are the two parables here: one about blindness, and then one about
having a log in your eye. What is the source of blindness? (John9: How
did this man sin that he is blind from birth?) The second parable answers:
the blindness has to do with the scandal, the being scandalized by one
another, the compulsive preoccupation with the Other. Jesus is the one
who should be the model.
There are two figures who are outside of this system of scandal: God and
the scapegoated figure who brought the system into being. In Christology:
Jesus is both. He is the human outsider, the one who is the Lamb slain
since the foundation of the world; and he's the incarnation of the living
God. He's the outsider par excellence on both counts. He's the only
one who can lead us out. He's both metaphysically and socially outside
of our systems of culture. He experiences as the scapegoat the "epistemological
privilege of the scapegoat." As Son of God, he experiences the immense
epistemological privilege that comes with that. Otherwise, we have no one
but each other, the blind leading the blind, and we fall into the pit.
Which takes us to the tension between and John the Baptist....
3. Robert Hamerton-Kelly, sermon
from February 18, 2001 (Woodside Village Church).
4. Raymund Schwager, Jesus
in the Drama of Salvation, p. 67, 100.
5. James G. Williams, The Bible,
Violence & the Sacred, p. 199
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