Mark 12:39

and to have the best seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at dinner.

ain’t it the pits
when honor
is a one-way street
mine to give
yours to have

every world built on honor
requires inequality
nicely papered over
to disguise
some are more equal

all of this
best takes place
in the marketplace
the natural habitat
of nouveau privilege

There is high prestige in being able to sit in front of the Ark, facing the people. This signals your ability to mediate the very word of G*D into mere human language for the benefit of those waiting for you to do so.

There is high prestige in being able to recline on the couch next to the host. This signals your worth by putting you in a top spot to receive special food and attention from the servers. It will be noticed by those farther away.

These four markers of status or honor—clothing, salutation, location, and location—become, for some, the measure of a meaningful life.

This chapter has been about Jesus’ Jewish traditions. They are asked from the inside, not a put-down from the outside even though they have been used by others in that fashion.

After opening with a parable about the control of creation (and Neighb*r), Sabin2113 locates four points of challenge.

The first question puts forward the relationship between the Temple and worldly power. Jesus’ response suggests that worldly power does not belong in the Temple. It also suggests that human beings, as bearers of God’s image, belong wholly to God. The second question puts forward the relationship between God and death. Jesus’ response indicates that God is concerned with the life, not death. God the Creator has the power to go on creating. The third question puts forward the relationship between love of God and love of neighbor. Jesus and the scribe agree that they are inextricably woven together. Love of neighbor (as the Psalms and Prophets have said) is the truest way of loving God. The last question takes the form of a riddle that Jesus himself asks about the meaning of God’s “messiah.” The riddle raises questions about the conventional understandings of the term and so prepares for an unconventional one.

Conventions in practice at the everyday level of dress, interaction, religious and social seating, require regular review.

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