Walter Brueggemann again, but from a different book: The Threat of Life. Those present at the General Chapter heard some of the following.
The Church must give an account of its Easter faith. In Acts 4:7, the prosecutor asks: By what power or by what name did you do this? The authorities ever since Pharaoh in the Old Testament and Herod in the New Testament have recognized that a dangerous power is on the loose, which they cannot administer. The answer is given by Peter, filled with the spirit powered by freedom, saturated with courage, unintimidated. He says:
If we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you...that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. (Acts 4:9-10)
My assignment for my preaching students last Thursday was to compose a homily for the Easter Vigil. Anthony Simone began his homily asking "Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror? This morning perhaps when you were shaving or doing your hair? Most likely, but have you ever looked in the mirror...just looking into your eyes…at a moment when you felt particularly good or full of joy? Or at a time when you were under great pressure, undue stress or just felt overcome with negativity? He goes on to comment further on reasons for looking into our eyes...or not looking! "Maybe we don’t want to do that. But who we are is a dynamic, ongoing story and a mystery that unfolds from moment to moment. Do we sometimes dull down that mystery? Do we limit this very unique image of ourselves that is constantly forming and growing?"
I am putting a hold on finishing up the brickyard until next week because I want to share with you an insight gleaned last evening from a presentation given by Sr. Pat Kozak, CSJ. She addressed a group of us on the women in the New Testament who in-fluenced Jesus, widening and deepening his understanding of his mission. Addressing the call of the gospel to a transformation of consciousness—a profound shift in awareness, she spoke of the difference between change and transformation.
arises from our own initiatives
involves a strategy of behavior
post-change awareness is on the same level as life before the change.
In other words, change fixes things but doesn't resolve issues.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 61—62 The Gospel of Mark begins with a challenge: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news (1:15). A new policy is being implemented, a policy that ends all coercion. The battle raged, and it was by no means clear how it would turn out. Decisively on the cross, the gospel of Mark presents the coercive, chaotic powers having their day. And, indeed, it seemed on Friday night that they had won, The voice of freedom was silence in the land. But the gospel has the right word at the right place. Jesus, dead on the cross, clearly defeated, was abandoned by all, by all except one Roman soldier, a man under authority, who was used to determining who was in charge. From his mouth comes this incredible conclusion: "Truly this man was God’s Son!" (Mark 15-39).
Brueggemann, Peace: Understanding Biblical Themes: pp. 59-61 — What does it mean that the Lord of Freedom controls the brickyards? Of course it says something about this Lord. It says that "Let-my-people-go" is powerful and for us. It says to us: "Get out from under the load of oppression and coercion." The Lord's intention is that we should not have to lead that kind of life, no matter how much the technological, bureaucratic propaganda of the regime lays on us. The Lord is for freedom and is powerful enough to introduce freedom into the grimmest brickyard there could be. That is the odd faith of the children of Israel to which we are heirs. It says the Lord has not abandoned the world.But what it says about us!
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 57-58 - Brickyards always seem to envelop us and everybody thought that it had to be like that. The slaves and the owners. But the Bible, the announcement of shalom, raises an unheard of question.... It could have been Moses or anybody with any name, because what counted is what he said: "Let my people go." That is what he said. And the moment it was said, the brickyard was changed. And it will never be the same again. That is the good news, good news for the slaves, but also for the foreman. The brickyard has been completely transformed by that announcement: "Let my people go!" That is the beginning of shalom.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 56-57 — As stated last week, the brickyard is a place of competent production where the production schedule is taken with great seriousness. It is also a place of coercion and profit. It is profit for the people who own and sell the bricks and set the production schedule. But for the people who make the bricks, it is a place of coercion. That is, they are there to meet other people’s standards, to knuckle under others’ demands. Here there is no zone of freedom, not even a hint of a break in the heat of the day. The gap between the people of profit and the people who are coerced is not an accident of the system, but is built into the design of the system. Most often the story of the brickyard is put out in company literature. Remarkably the biblical story of the brickyard is told from the perspective of the coerced.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 56 — One of the things a study of the Bible can do is to provide us with images that help us to understand better the flow and situation of our lives. Shalom is such an abstract word in our ears that we need to find ways to make it concrete. The Bible never talks about shalom in an abstract or fuzzy way. It is always very specific and concrete. In Christian faith, when we talk about shalom we mean incarnation. God's shalom is always embodied in such a way that people know it is happening in their historical experience.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 53 — As noted two weeks ago, Jesus is not only the one who frees and unites; he is also the one who is free and united. Jesus is free from all the claims and expectations of the world. He is the one united in his person with a singleness of vision and commitment, united with his brothers and sisters in the pain and joy of the world. We must ask how it was that he had the power of freedom and the power of unity in his person. That could be articulated in many ways, but is the mystery of it not in his vulnerability? He sought nothing, asked nothing, feared nothing; he emptied himself and became obedient to death on a cross. And in his emptiness, his obedience, and his death, has become power toward life, toward freedom and unity.