Second narrative

This second narrative centered around the Sermon on the Mount and the famous so-called Beatitudes.  The first beatitude was about poverty, while the second beatitude was about mourning.  The third beatitude was about the meek or the humble.  The fourth beatitude was about righteousness.  The fifth beatitude was on mercy, while the sixth beatitude was about the pure of heart.  The seventh beatitude was on peacemakers, while the eighth beatitude was on persecution.  There was a grand blessing for the persecuted Christians, who were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  They had to value and become the lighted lamp.

Next came the law and the prophets.  The law with all its commandments remained.  The righteous ones would not murder, nor would they get angry with insults.  They would offer their gifts at the Temple.  They would pay their debts and not commit adultery.  Jesus warned against the sinning eye and the sinning right hand.  He favored the traditional divorce stance, but warned about marrying a divorced woman.  They should not bear false witness, nor swear at all, since they should have a simple speech.  No longer was it an eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek with unusual kindness.  They were to love their enemies and their heavenly Father with a perfect love.

The followers of Jesus should fast and pray.  We should have piety with almsgiving.  Our charity and prayer should be secret with short prayers.  Thus, there was the famous “Our Father” prayer.  The first part of the Lord’s prayer was about God the Father.  The second part of the Lord’s prayer was about our human problems.  We should seek forgiveness and fast in secret.  We should not want earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures.  We need to have a healthy eye because we cannot serve two masters.

We should trust in Providence.  We do not need to worry.  Just look at the birds who do not worry.  The lilies of the field have more beauty than Solomon in all his glory.  Seek the kingdom of heaven first and you will not have to worry about tomorrow.

As far as judgment was concerned, do not judge the speck in the eye of your neighbor.  Be careful with your holy treasures.  Be seekers and give to your sons.  Pray to your heavenly Father and follow the golden rule.  The gate was narrow and there were many false prophets.  Know them by their fruits.  The sound tree has good fruits.  Cut down the bad tree.  Seek the kingdom of heaven.  Stay away from evildoers.  Wise men build on a rock foundation, while the foolish ones build on a sand foundation.  The crowds were astonished at the authority of Jesus.

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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 breaking of the staff of favor (Zech 11:10-11:11)

“I took my staff,

Favor.

I broke it.

I annulling the covenant

That I had made

With all the people.

So,

It was annulled

On that day.

The sheep merchants,

Who were watching me,

Knew that it was

The word of Yahweh.”

Zechariah took his staff named favor, grace, or beauty.  Then he broke it.  By this, on that day, he annulled the covenant that had been made with his people.  Meanwhile, the sheep merchants were watching him.  They realized that this was truly the word of Yahweh.

Yahweh’s people (Zech 9:16-9:17)

“On that day,

Yahweh their God

Will save them.

They are the flock

Of his people.

Like the jewels

Of a crown,

They shall shine

On his land.

What great goodness is his!

What great beauty is his!

Grain shall make

The young men flourish.

New wine shall make

The maidens flourish.”

There was no doubt that Yahweh, their God, would save the Israelites.  They were his flock.  They would shine like jewels on a crown in his land.  There was no limit to the goodness and beauty of God.  Grain and new wine would help the young men and the young maidens to flourish.

Israel shall return to life (Hos 14:4-14:6)

“I will heal

Their disloyalty.

I will love them

Freely.

My anger

Has turned

From them.

I will be

Like the dew

To Israel.

He shall blossom

Like the lily.

He shall strike root

Like the forests of Lebanon.

His shoots

Shall spread out.

His beauty shall be

Like the olive tree.

His fragrance shall be

Like Lebanon.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, said that he was going to heal the disloyalty of Israel. He would love them freely, since his anger had turned from them. He was going to be like the morning dew to Israel. He was going to make them blossom again like the lilies. He was going to have them set down strong roots, like the forests of the Lebanon cedar trees. Their shoots would spread out all over the place. Their beauty would be like that of an olive tree. Their fragrance would be like the Lebanon cedar trees.

The mercenary army at Tyre (Ezek 27:10-27:11)

“Persia,

Lud,

Put,

Were all in your army.

They were

Your mighty warriors.

They hung their shield

With you.

They hung their helmet

With you.

They gave you splendor.

The men of Arvad,

The men of Helech,

Were on your walls

All around.

The men of Gamad

Were at your towers.

They hung their quivers

All around

Your walls.

They made perfect

Your beauty.”

Tyre had a mercenary army with people from Persia, Lydia (Lud), and Libya (Put). These were the mighty warriors of Tyre who hung their shields and helmets in Tyre to give the town more splendor. Within the town, guarding the walls, were the men from the Arvad island and Cilicia (Helech), a coastal town in Asia Minor. Meanwhile, the men of Cappadocia (Gamad) guarded the towers of Tyre. They kept their bow and arrows in the town. Thus the city of Tyre had an international army protecting it, inside and outside, to make it a thing of beauty.

These gods have no feeling (Bar 6:24-6:26)

“As for the gold

That these idol gods wear

For beauty,

It will not shine

Unless someone

Wipes off the tarnish.

Even when

They were being cast,

They had no feeling.

They are bought

Without regard to cost.

But there is no breath

In them.

Having no feet,

They are carried

On the shoulders of others.

They reveal

To all humans

Their worthlessness.”

This author’s diatribe against the false idols continues with an accusation that these idols have no feelings. They wear gold for beauty, but it will not shine unless someone else wipes off its tarnish. As these idols were cast in an iron furnace, they had no feelings while this was going on. However, money is not a problem with creating these idols. Even so, these expensive idol images have no breath and no feet. They have to be carried on the shoulders of others. Thus they reveal to everyone that they are worthless.