Preaching Peace Lectionary

6 Easter, Year A

Gospel Anthropological Reading

John 14:15-21 – This is actually the first of the Paraclete sayings in the Fourth Gospel, but our final look at the Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel (FG). In Year B (Pentecost Sunday) we looked at some of the dimensions of a wholistic Trinitarian interpretation regarding the Holy Spirit. In Year C (Trinity Sunday) we asked about the work of the Spirit in the church/world today.

Mimetic theorists asking about positive mimesis and its origin in the Passion and the Paraclete could do no better than to turn to Rene Girard’s The Scapegoat. I am frequently asked why mimetic theory is so important. From my perspective, it is the only truly ‘scientific’ anthropological theory that I am aware of that explains so much data with such a concise formula. Its application across such a diverse spectrum of disciplines testifies to its breadth. Mimetic theory is the only truly post-modern theory because it is a theory that has no scapegoats, no hidden agendas, no deletions. It does not add by subtracting. It is self-critical by the very nature of its anthropological sources.

When Girard concludes that it is the very demystifying power of the gospel that has been at work throughout western culture, and this work has been accomplished by the One Jesus referred to as the ‘Paraclete’, we might sit up and take notice. Has the Holy Spirit brought about the current intellectual crisis in which we seem to find ourselves? Is there a day that goes by where the theme of violence, death, poverty, marginalization and scapegoating do not dominate the news? (The funeral of Pope John Paul II is the exception that proves the rule. For here we had a figure around whom we could all agree had lived a ‘Jesus’ life in some way, shape or form. His death has brought a respite from the tragedy of our world, but by the time you read this that will change.)

The world has no way of conceiving how the Holy Spirit could bring about the deconstruction of human culture. This does not mean that the Spirit ceases to reveal to the world, it means the world (the kosmos) has no way to receive her, it neither ‘theory’s’ the Spirit nor knows the Spirit from life experience. ‘Theoreo’ ‘to see’, has both a physical and an intellectual component. The world does not factor into its history the power of love. Authentic love will always remain a mystery to the world. Love is the expression of the character of God, it is the commandment (13.31-35) to be kept. In short, followers of Jesus are given a commandment against which there will never be a law, the commandment to love one another. Jesus commands positive mimesis, the mimesis of love.

How? By coming to us, each of us and all of us, as our model, our teacher, our guide. He does this in the sending of another just like himself, a counselor, a defense attorney, an advisor, a friend, a mentor. We not were not left bereft, nor forlorn and abandoned, we were given the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit of Jesus. We hear his voice, he is our good shepherd. We ‘see’ him, we factor Jesus and the Spirit into our ‘theories’ (our seeing, our perspectives). And in so doing, we highlight the distinction between Christianity and religion; Christianity can never be a religion and if it becomes one it will deconstruct itself. Christianity brings the ‘krisis’ to religion. Christian faith on the other hand issues in a beautiful spectrum of spirituality, in which diversity in unity is affirmed in love.

We would observe once again the Trinitarian interweaving of Jesus and the Paraclete and Jesus and the Father. Significantly, another important element emerges within this Trinitarian history, the relationship of Jesus to his followers, to you and me.
Finally, Jeff and I would like to take this opportunity to offer congratulations to Rene Girard for his induction into the ‘academie francaise’ (the French intellectual equivalent of the Nobel), this past March 2005. It has been a thrill to work with Rene these many years and to be a part of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion. These brothers and sisters are some of the most genuine, selfless and committed scholars as one will find. Jeff and I wish Rene and his wife Martha many good years to come and hopefully a few more books from Rene!

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Gospel Historical/Cultural Questions

None this week.

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Gospel So What?

Who is this King of Glory? How shall we call him? Is not his name a name above all names? Has he not promised to come to us? Is he not with us? He most certainly is and he is taking humanity and all creation on a journey, a redemptive journey.

Do we take time in our lives to sense the Presence of his Spirit? Or does our metaphysics and intellectual dreariness wipe out this personal acknowledgement of a relationship to the Creator of the Universe through the Spirit-that-moves-thru-all-things sent by the Lord Jesus? The disciples that night were no more skeptics than we are, even though they were there and we were not.

But after the Sending of the Spirit, their lives were utterly transformed, were they not? Even so shall it be with the church. The Spirit is transforming the church, life by life, throughout the churches, all over the world. This transformation is coming to us all, for us all. It comes to all who dwell in peace, in the unity of love we name Trinity.

Veni Creator Spiritus……

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Epistle Anthropological Reading

This section of this particular page is not yet completed, but will be done a few weeks before the Sunday in question. It will be the heart of the discussion, offering an anthropological (“Girardian”) reflection on the lectionary texts. It will be complemmented by the other sections, but this will be the primary material.Back to top


Epistle Historical/Cultural Questions

This section of this particular page is not yet complete. In it, there will be materials pertinent to the historical/cultural setting of the texts under consideration, to the extent that they contribute to a non-violent understanding of the text. (We won’t re-hash historical/cultural materials that are well known and add nothing to the “peace” discussion.)Back to top


Epistle So What?

The “so what” section for each week will go here. Less scholarly, more reflective. In this section, we’ll try to give our answer to the questions, “Okay, that anthropological stuff is nice, but “so what?” How do I use this in a sermon? How do I relate this to my congregation’s world?”Back to top