Family conflict (Mt 10:35-10:36)

“I have come

To set a man

Against his father.

I have come

To set a daughter

Against her mother.

I have come

To set a daughter-in-law

Against her mother-in-law.

A man’s foes

Will be members

Of his own household.”

 

ἦλθον γὰρ διχάσαι ἄνθρωπον κατὰ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ θυγατέρα κατὰ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτῆς καὶ νύμφην κατὰ τῆς πενθερᾶς αὐτῆς,

καὶ ἐχθροὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οἱ οἰκιακοὶ αὐτοῦ.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:53, indicating a Q source.  However, it is also similar to what Jesus, via Matthew, had said in chapter 10:21, and Mark, chapter 13:12, as well as much like the Old Testament prophet Micah, chapter 7:6, where this prophet warned that they should not trust anyone in their own family.  Jesus may be the disrupter in their own family, not the peacemaker.  Jesus here said that he came to set a man against his father (ἦλθον γὰρ διχάσαι ἄνθρωπον κατὰ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ), a daughter against her mother (καὶ θυγατέρα κατὰ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτῆς), and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law (καὶ νύμφην κατὰ τῆς πενθερᾶς αὐτῆς).  Thus, the most ferocious enemies will be members of their own household (καὶ ἐχθροὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οἱ οἰκιακοὶ αὐτοῦ).  People always look outside for enemies, but sometimes they may be right beside them in their own family.

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Foundation stories

Some stories are foundational.  The American founding fathers had their stories.  The Irish often speak of the “Faith of our Fathers”.  These stories give us a vision of reality.  There is a master narrative around which we organize and give meaning to our lives.  In the same way, we live the Christian story about Jesus.  Each one of us has a foundation story that gives us an identity in our community.  Each business has a foundation story that is part mythic, yet operative.  The American Manifest Destiny shows how the story justified the expansion.  We are a land of opportunity, based on many stories, maybe within your own family.  Everyone can live out their dreams.  Creation stories show how we belong to the world and what our purpose for being here is.  Isolated reading is not right either.  This is not a naive reading, since the stories are inspired blended accounts.

Beware of your family (Jer 12:6-12:6)

“Even your kinsfolk,

Even your own family,

Even they have dealt treacherously

With you.

They are in full cry after you.

Do not believe them,

Even if they speak

Friendly words to you.”

This verse is not in the Jerusalem Bible. I do not know why. Yahweh seems to warn Jeremiah that he should be careful with his own family and relatives. They have dealt treacherously with him. They were in full throat after him. He was not to believe anything that they said to him, even if it was friendly words.

Sinners until death (Sir 23:16-23:17)

“Two kinds of individuals

Multiply sins.

A third incurs wrath.

Hot passion blazes

Like a burning fire.

Hot passion

Will not be quenched

Until it burns itself out.

Whoever commits fornication

With his near of kin

Will never cease

Until the fire burns him up.

To a fornicator,

All bread is sweet.

He will never cease

Until he dies.”

Here Sirach is like Proverbs with a numerical proverb that is a little unclear. Some sinners multiply their sins, basically those with sins of passion. However, another kind of sinner incurs the wrath of God. Obviously, fornication is wrong. Hot passion blazes like a burning fire until it is quenched and burns itself out. The big sin is sexual fornication with a relative. Sirach believes that this fornicator will not cease until fire burns him up. Each fornicator believes that all bread is sweet, since they make no distinction on who they get involved with. They will only cease their bad habits at death. This is a strong condemnation of the indiscriminate sexual offender, especially those who get sexually involved with their own family members.

Yahweh defeats my enemies (Ps 3:7-3:7)

“Arise, Yahweh!

Deliver me!

O my God!

You strike all my enemies on the cheek.

You break the teeth of the wicked.”

David wanted Yahweh to wake up and deliver him. He wanted Yahweh to strike all his enemies on the cheek. He wanted him to break the teeth of all the wicked. Once again there was no pause or break. David wanted Yahweh to intervene on his behalf in this internal Israelite family struggle with his son. The wicked and the enemies were not other countries, but his own family and countrymen.