The kingdom of God (Lk 14:15-14:15)

“One of the dinner guests,

On hearing this,

Said to Jesus.

‘Blessed is anyone

Who will eat bread

In the kingdom of God!’”

 

Ἀκούσας δέ τις τῶν συνανακειμένων ταῦτα εἶπεν αὐτῷ Μακάριος ὅστις φάγεται ἄρτον ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Luke uniquely continued with this dinner party among the Pharisees.  Luke indicated that one of the dinner guests reclining at table with Jesus heard Jesus talk about the end times (Ἀκούσας δέ τις τῶν συνανακειμένων ταῦτα).  He said to Jesus (εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that anyone would be blessed, fortunate or happy (Μακάριος) if they could eat bread (ὅστις φάγεται ἄρτον) in the kingdom of God (ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This Pharisee seemed to appreciate that the end times were coming when they would eat bread in the kingdom of God.  Would you like an earthly reward or a heavenly reward?

Christian Whole Life

There are material dimensions to our life.  We are flesh, not just a spiritual soul.  We know about physical beauty and wealth.  If you are wealthy and the right race, does that prove that God loves you?  In reality, the physical world is morally neutral and can be an asset or a liability.  A disability can lead either to self-pity or courage.  Sex can either be an act of love or manipulation.  Wealth can be a power to help others or a path to greed.  We have to accept ourselves and who we are.  Thus, we have to let God shine through us.  We must bring our senses of touch, smell, and hearing into our faith.  We have to appreciate the beauty in the world around us.  Christians believe in an incarnation theology.  Jesus was truly in this world.  Do not fear the body, imagination or the aesthetic sense.  Your imagination uses myths and images to help you describe God, whether it be in music, art, or literature.

The Bible narrative story

There is a narrative quality to the Bible.  We have to appreciate truth in the story, because stories express truth.  We tend to dismiss things as just a story.  Even with modern technology, the Internet. YouTube, and Facebook are full of stories.  Scientific facts are not poetry and thus they have different rules.  The story world helps us understand our real world.  We would not have a real world without language and story.  Non-literate societies emphasized oral story as very important.  Even today, whether it is television or movies, we love a good story.  In the 1997 movie “Titanic” the story was simple, the ship sunk.  However, the love story of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet drew us in and made us feel the whole story.  Historical novels are very popular as a means of understanding the past historical times.

Christians reading the Old Testament

The Old Testament Hebrew Bible raises questions of interpretation for a Christian.  To what extent am I, as a Christian, projecting Christian views and values on the children of Israel, the people of Israel, the Israelites?  There are various terms that translators have used to describe the slowing forming group of Yahweh believers over three thousand years ago.  Yahweh was their God and intervened in their lives.  They had a special relationship or covenant with him.  The Hebrew sacred writings were incorporated into Christianity because all the early Christians were Jewish.  However, the writings were not originally meant for Christians, but for the Hebrew people.  Can I really fully understand the Semitic thought process of three thousand years ago?  Will I be able to appreciate how important the promised land of Israel was to Jewish people?  What role did the exodus from Egypt, the Temple, the exile, and the various codes play in their lives?  I can try, but I doubt if I will be fully successful.

The women chant this lamentation (Ezek 32:16-32:16)

“‘This is a lamentation.

It shall be chanted.

The women

Of the nations

Shall chant it.

They shall chant it

Over Egypt,

Over all its hordes.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh God said that women from a variety of nations should chant this lamentation over Egypt and its inhabitants. I am not sure that they would appreciate this chant.

Honor Yahweh (Isa 43:20-43:21)

“The wild animals will honor me.

The jackals will honor me.

The ostriches will honor me.

I give water in the wilderness.

I give rivers in the desert

To give drink

To my chosen people.

They are the people

Whom I formed for myself

That they might declare my praise.”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh continue in the first person singular, saying that the wild animals will honor him. However, he only lists the jackals and the ostriches. Yahweh has provided water in the wilderness by providing rivers in the desert. Thus his specially chosen people could also give praise, just like the wild animals have. The wild animals seemed to appreciate the water more than Yahweh’s chosen people. Apparently on the return from Babylon, they passed through a desert wilderness in Syria some place.

Disciplined eating and sleeping (Sir 31:19-31:22)

“How ample a little is

For a well-disciplined person.

He does not breathe heavily

When in bed.

Healthy sleep depends

On moderate eating.

He rises early.

He feels fit.

The distress of sleeplessness

Is with the glutton.

The distress of nausea

Is with the glutton.

The distress of colic

Is with the glutton.

If you are overstuffed with food,

Get up to vomit.

You will have relief.

Listen to me!

My child!

Do not disregard me!

In the end,

You will appreciate my words.

In everything you do,

Be moderate!

No sickness will overtake you.”

If you are a well disciplined person, you do not need a lot of food. You should not breathe heavily or snore in bed. In fact, good sleep depends on moderate eating habits. If you get up early, you will feel fit. Being a glutton can cause sleeplessness, nausea, and indigestion. However, if you eat too much, just leave the table and go vomit. Thus we have a hint of bulimia. Sirach wants you to listen to his words. Do not disregard them, because you will appreciate them later in life. You should be moderate in all that you do, in order to avoid any kind of sickness.

Lack of education (Sir 21:18-21:21)

“Like a house in ruins

Is wisdom to a fool.

To the ignorant,

Knowledge is talk

That has no meaning.

To a senseless man,

Education is

Fetters on his feet.

Education is

Like manacles on his right hand.

A fool raises his voice

When he laughs.

But the wise

Smile quietly.

To the sensible person,

Education is

Like a golden ornament.

Education is

Like a bracelet on the right arm.”

The foolish people do not understand or appreciate education. The ignorant foolish people think that wisdom is a ruined house, since smart talk is meaningless. The ignorant ones think that education is nothing but chains on their feet and handcuffs on their hands. It holds them back from physical activity. The foolish laugh loudly, but the wise smile quietly. For the sensible person, education is a golden ornament or a bracelet on their arms. The fools are happy with their lack of education because they are ignorant.

Almsgiving (Sir 3:29-3:31)

“The mind of the intelligent appreciates proverbs.

An attentive ear is the desire of the wise.

Just as water extinguishes a blazing fire,

So almsgiving atones for sins.

Whoever repays favors

Gives thought to the future.

When they fall,

They will find support.”

Intelligent people appreciate proverbs. You should be wise. You should pay attention with your ears. Like water on a fire, almsgiving, can atone for sins. If you repay people for favors, your reward will go into the future. If anything happens to you, you will find support.

Appreciate Mount Zion (Ps 48:11-48:14)

“Let Mount Zion be glad!

Let the towns of Judah rejoice

Because of your judgments!

Walk about Zion!

Go all around it!

Count its towers!

Consider well its ramparts!

Go through its citadels!

Thus you may tell the next generation

That this is God,

Our God forever and ever.

He will be our guide forever.”

The psalm ends with a demand that the people appreciate Mount Zion. The towns of Judah should rejoice because of God’s judgments. The psalmist wanted everyone to walk all around Mount Zion. He wanted them to count the towers, see the ramparts, and walk through the various fortresses. Then they would be able to tell the next generation about God. This seems to imply that there was some kind of special presence of God at this holy mountain. Normally, they would say the presence of the name of Yahweh, but here it is God directly, who was there eternally, forever and ever as a permanent guide.