A LOT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, more than meets the eye, is dominated by exile or exiles. It’s not surprising that modern Israel is dominated by the Exile, subsequent ones and worse. No wonder modern Israelis say, “ Now we’ve got some of it back, let’s keep hold of our Zion and our Land, as much as we can.”

In the Mattins reading, Isaiah describes the highway on which the Lord leads His people home to Zion. This is the expectation the son of Mary, son of Joseph,son of David, JESUS, was brought up with. His name, Jesus, is the same as Joshua. Joshua who was chosen to lead God’s people to their home in the Promised Land, all of it, occupied by foreigners, pagans,
This is the expectation that Jesus had to fight with, all his life. It was the Evil One’s temptation, right from the start. Showing Jesus before the start of his ministry all the kingdoms of the world “All this and more will be yours, if you fall down and worship me.” But no, He was NOT called by God His Father to be the conquering hero Messiah/Christ, fighting enemies of the Hebrews, driving them back.

In the reading from Isaiah at Mattins, we hear – what really happens to true prophets. The ones who prophecy what people do NOT want to hear. They are beaten, spat upon, insulted – exactly what happens to Jesus, only for him it will be worse still.

In the reading for the epistle, James tells us how those who are teachers = let’s say ordained, or living in Community – are tempted – to be critical of others. We’re tempted to think we are so h o l y !!! So much better than ordinary people, so much more entitled to criticize from our lofty spiritual position !!!

In the Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus himself spells it out. What if he really IS the Christ, the anointed one ? Keep it dark, because to be a conquering Messiah is NOT what God his Father calls him to be. Jesus has to embody the Father’s loving and caring, Not exactly what his people, the Israelites, themselves want and expect which is a Messiah/Christ who will throw out their conquerors the Romans.

One of our temptation is to think well of ourselves, and of the well-dressed, gracious, comfortably off, well behaved people who are most generously coming here as our guests, flattering us by their gracious attentions. Shouldn’t the people we look out for, who we seek to minister to, be the impoverished, scruffy, unwashed, -among them the increasing number of homeless found on the streets, not only in Trafalgar Square or Liverpool, but right here in Huddersfield and Dewsbury ?

It’s not just us, same temptation faces governments, to play to the stalls, to their well heeled supporters, and cut down on benefits for the poor.
Worth a thought, perhaps