FROM THE RECTOR: LENT WITH LUKE
The gospel lesson on the First Sunday in Lent in all three years of the lectionary cycle is the story of Jesus’ temptation, successively from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Year A, Matthew gets the first Sunday, but on the other four Sundays John takes over, and the church hears four truly great lessons. They are: Nicodemus meeting Jesus (John 3:1–17 [Note: next year we will read the whole passage, 3:1–21]); Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:5–42); Jesus healing the man born blind (John 9:1–41); and Jesus raising Lazarus (John 11:1–44).
In Year B, Mark gets two Sundays, the first Sunday is the temptation gospel, and the second is Jesus’ first prediction of his passion (Mark 8:31–38). The other Sundays belong to John. On the third Sunday we hear the story of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (John 2:13–21); on the fourth, Jesus feeding the five thousand (John 6:4–15); and on the fifth, Greeks seek Jesus, and he declares that his hour has come (John 12:20–33).
Sometime last week I realized that in the present cycle, Year C, the gospel for every Sunday in Lent is from Luke. I feel as if my study of what Luke has written and how the church has used it for Lent is beginning anew.
Last Sunday—a bitterly cold Sunday in New York City—we heard Luke’s story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. As I mentioned in my sermon (not yet posted, but to be posted soon), New Testament scholars Joseph Fitzmyer and the late François Bovon (1938–2013) both agreed that Luke uses the story of the temptation to teach us something about Jesus’ identity. In fact, there is a tradition of theologians and preachers using these stories for moral, ethical, even theological, instruction going back to the beginning of the third century (see the sermon for references).
Though neither Fitzmyer nor Bovon seems to me to stress the point for Luke, as Joel Marcus (and others) do for Mark, Bovon noted, “It is Luke’s firm conviction that humans are afflicted by the devil and suffer from him” (again, see the sermon for references). I haven’t thought of this on my own as a theme for Luke. Clearly this comes into play on this second Sunday of Lent: Jesus says, “Go and tell that fox [Herod], ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course’ ” (Luke 13:32).
On the third Sunday, Bovon calls the passage, Luke 13:1–9, “The Proper Use of Misfortune” (Luke 2 , 263). Fitzmyer calls it, “Timely Reform: The Parable of the Fig Tree” (Gospel According to Luke, 28A , 1003). I suspect the remarks of both scholars will reference the struggle with the diábolos, that is the devil—literally “one who engages in slander.”
The fourth Sunday brings us the well-known parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32), the only passage of the five that were used in the lectionary of the 1928 Prayer Book. It is found only in Luke. The fifth Sunday is Luke’s version of the parable of the wicked husbandmen (Luke 20:9–19), found also in Matthew 21:33–46 and Mark 12:1–12. Bovon calls this, “The Parable of the Murderous Winegrowers” (Luke 3 , 32), Fitzmyer, “The Parable of the Wicked Tenant Farmers” (Fitzmyer, Ibid., 1276).
In his gospel, Luke uses both the words “Satan” (that is, “adversary,” one who is, “the enemy of God and all of those who belong to God”) and “devil.” His perspective is intended to help us put our faith in Jesus Christ in the midst of all the goodness, sweetness, challenges, and sins we encounter or create in our lives. I’m not sure why I haven’t picked up on this emphasis in Luke before. That said, I know there is always more to learn about the gift of life that God has given us. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Louise, Julie, Alice, Daniel, Kris, Francesca, Mary, Sylvia, Pearl, Stephen, Walter, Martha, Sally, Sam, Jean, Quinn, Heidi, Rasheed, Billy, Karen, Catherine, Trevor, Takeem, Arpene, Mazdak, Sidney, deacon, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 21: 1909 Angelica Baraclough Shea; 1915 Sarah Morris Cory; 1929 Marguerite Spear Slocum; 1941 Rosa Payne Collins.
THE WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial. The Fridays of Lent are also observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats. Abstinence is not observed on Sundays in Lent or on Saint Joseph’s Day, Saturday, March 19. (This year, the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, will be celebrated on Monday, April 4. When March 25 occurs during Lent, the day is not observed by abstinence.)
FRIDAYS IN LENT . . . Stations of the Cross will be prayed weekly on Fridays at 6:30 PM. You are invited to join us.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, February 20, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM, Lenten Quiet Day, led by Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B. . . . Saint Mary’s on Sunday: February 21, the Second Sunday in Lent: Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Adult Forum 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, February 24, Saint Matthias the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will continue on February 24 at 7:00 PM after the evening Mass . . . Friday, February 26, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM & Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . Sunday, February 21, at 10:00 AM, on the second floor of the Mission House, Father Peter Powell will continue the second part of his series on The Succession Narrative: 2 Samuel 11–20; 1 Kings 1–2. This class will continue throughout the season of Lent, meeting on Sunday, February 28, and on March 6, 13, and 20 . . . Next up: Beginning on Sunday, April 3, Matthew Jacobson will begin his four-part series, Reading the Fathers: An Exploration of the History, Spirituality & Theology of the Early Church . . . On Sunday, May 8, Stephen Morris will give a presentation on his new book, When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality (McFarland, 2015).
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2016 . . . This year’s Campaign is going well, but there is still some work to do. As of February 17, we have received $403,273.00 in pledges for the coming year. This is 95% of our 2016 goal of $425,000.00. If you would like to make a pledge, please call the finance office. Our staff will be happy to fill out a pledge card for you. If you have questions about stewardship, please ask to speak to a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Daniel Okobi sustained an ankle fracture during a bike accident on Sunday and then underwent surgery to repair the fracture. Alice Manning underwent a surgical procedure on Friday, February 19. Please keep Daniel and Alice in your prayers . . . Flowers are needed for all the Sundays in Eastertide. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . If you would like to make a donation to help pay for the receptions after the Easter Vigil (March 26) or on Ascension Day (May 5), please speak to Father Jay Smith or contact the parish office . . . Sermons by the parish clergy, including recent sermons by Father Powell and the Rector, have been published on the parish webpage . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 191 (Bitter Cold).
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The Mass setting that we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is the Missa octavi toni by our old friend Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594), one of the finest of the Renaissance composers regularly heard at Saint Mary’s. The “eighth tone’” referred to in the title is the Mixolydian: that is—and this is to oversimplify— the mode that starts on a G on a piano and goes up the white notes only. In all of the Masses named after modes, we generally expect the music to be mostly syllabic (with just one note to each syllable). The frequent exception is the opening of the Sanctus where mortal composers attempt to emulate the immortal heavenly host singing their sacred words; often expressive melismatic shapes (with several more than one note per syllable) are used, and these allow the music to expand beyond the mundane. There is some of that at work in the Missa octavi toni, and listeners might enjoy the interplay of scales that each voice brings in contrast to the others. That apart, the syllabic rule of thumb generally holds sway here. There is another reason for the simplicity in this setting. This Mass is also named as the Jäger Mass for its shortness made it especially welcome on Sundays when Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria was keen to go out hunting. The motet is a setting by Lassus of the offertory minor proper for the day. —Simon Whalley
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves) for distribution here at the parish. Please bring donations to the parish kitchen on Sunday or contact Father Jay Smith . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street. —Jay Smith
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Saturday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 PM . . . March 19 and March 20, The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, The Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Vigil Mass on Saturday at 5:00 PM. On Sunday, Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Mass at 9:00 AM. The Liturgy of the Palms, Procession to Times Square, and Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM. There is no 10:00 AM Eucharist on Palm Sunday.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet is an art exhibition hosted by the Cathedral, in keeping with its long history of engagement with issues of social justice, the environment, support for the arts, and community involvement. Guest curated by Kirby Gookin and Robin Kahn, the exhibition focuses on food security, accessibility, and sustainability by bringing together artists who not only grapple with these issues, but also actively engage the audience. Installed in the bays and chapels inside the Cathedral, as well as throughout the gardens, the exhibition is divided into seven thematic sections: Water, Soil, Seed, Farm, Market, Meal, and Waste—a reflection of the cycle of food production. The Value of Food runs until April 3, 2016. The exhibition is on view during the Cathedral's regular hours, 7:30 am to 6 pm, seven days a week. (Please note that there is limited access to parts of the Cathedral on Sundays—full access on Sundays is typically between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM.)