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Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The Gospel Of Justification
Yesterday we began reading from Paul's letter to the Romans; we will be
reading from it until
November 5, 2005 in our daily masses. If one listens to
fundamentalist and non-Catholic preachers, one gets the impression that
1:16-3:20 is a strong indictment against the sins of humanity and that
Paul pronounces it in view of the end times that is about to come. I'd
rather look at the section not as a threat but as an introduction to the
heart of Paul's gospel of justification. In effect, Paul presents the
case of humanity's sinfulness to show that God has considered it and
therefore has sent his only Son as a solution to man's existential
problem. The emphasis is not so much the condemnation that hangs on
humankind like the perennial threat of Damocles' sword. The emphasis
rather is on the mercy of God and the grace that he reveals in Christ.
The condemnation is great, the threat is real, but God's love is greater
than this. 1:16-3:20 is better understood in the light of what Paul says
all throughout his Gospel of Justification, especially in the words
which conclude his argument on Justification:
For I am convinced that neighter death nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor present things, nor future things, norpowers, nor
height, nor depth nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. (8:38)
Posted by biblista
at 7:55 AM
Edited on: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 8:13 AM
, New Testament
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Mt. 22:1-14 The Wedding Garment
Another parable proposed by the Lord as a reply to those who ask about
his authority (cf. 21:23-27) is about a wedding feast. A king's son was
going to be married and so gives out the invitation to those whom he
usually invites. These excused themselves due to other commitments.
Not only that, some of them even killed the king's messengers (vv.2-6).
The king answers with a violent reprisal (v.7). With the usual guests
finished off, the king sends out his messengers once more to call in
anyone -- both good and bad -- into the banquet. And so the banquet did
If we compare the parable at this point to the other parables that Jesus
tells his interlocutors., we can say that the present one is telling the
1. Those who refused, stand for the Jews who turned away from the
invitation to the reign of God. (21:43)
2. The reprisal of the king, already hinted at in the previous parable
about the tenants of the vineyard, represents the judgment that will
laid upon the wicked, i.e., those who refuse the invitation of God's
3. Finally, those who respond to the invitation are like the tax
collectors and the prostitutes in the parable of the two sons (21:28-32)
who respond to the call of the Baptist to conversion. (cf. 21:32)
Apart from this, there are echoes of banquet-sayings uttered by the Lord
regarding the replacement of those normally invited by others as in Mt.
But then, there is a second part to the parable...
During the party itself, the king arrived to meet the guests. He saw one
who was not in the proper wedding garb. Jewish culture demands that
everyone come in the proper attire for a banquet. Since banquets last
for some days, anyone invited can come at one's leisure in the proper
garb. The man had no excuse for coming without the proper clothing. When
asked by the king about his clothing, he shut his mouth (that is what phimotheti
means; other translations settle for "he had nothing to say"). And that
was in the culture of the times very rude. So the king orders that the
man be thrown out of the party.
Then the king said to the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast
him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."
One might as well ask: "Is the punishment proportionate to the
offense? Did the man deserve to be bound hand and foot and thrown out
into the darkness?" If it were just a story, perhaps we can say it was
too much. The problem is, it is not just a story. The parable has all
the elements of a judgment scenario: the wedding banquet, the implied
wedding, the war on the wicked, the white garment for the wedding, the
outer darkness. The last quoted phrase itself occurs in other parts of
Matthew in the context of judgment:
Mt. 8:11-12: I tell you many will come from east and west and sit at
the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven while
the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there
men will weep and gnash their teeth.
Mt. 13:41-42: The Son of man will send his angels and they will gather
out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them
into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
Mt. 24:50-51: The Master of that (faithless) servant will come on a day
when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will
punish him and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and
gnash their teeth.
Mt. 25:40: Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there
men will weep and gnash their teeth.
Given these facts, therefore, what does the white garment point to? The
answer I think is hinted at that part of the New Testament where the
elements of this parable -- wedding feast, war, white garment -- can be
found one other time: Revelation 19:1-21:8. In this section we find
the clean white robe as representing "the righteous deeds of the saints"
Monday, October 03, 2005
Mt. 21-33-46 The Tenants of the Vineyard
Mt. 21:33-46 is a parable closely following that found in vv. 28-32
which deal with the question: "Who is doing the Father's will?" Both
parables are tied up together by the same image, that of the "vineyard."
In the parable under consideration, Jesus hooks up with the Vineyard
Song in Isaiah 5:1-7 which is actually plaintive song regarding a
vineyard that refuses to give off its fruits inspite of the attention
given to it by its owner. The resemblance however is immediately cut
off after Mt. 21:33, for what follows is the story of a rebellion. The
tenants of the vineyard refuse to give the owner his portion of the
yield. Instead, they kill off the owner's messengers one by one
(vv.34-36). Finally, the owner sends his son, the one who will inherit
the vineyard. But he too was killed by those tenants (37-39). The
parable ends with a question: "What do you think will the owner of the
vineyard do to those tenants?" And the answer should have brought the
parable to a conclusion:
He will put those wretches to a misrable death, and let out the
vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their proper
Transfer of Privileges
At this point in the story, one is reminded of moments in salvation
history where a privilege given by God to a place or to a person is
withdrawn and given to another. This is the case of Shiloh and King
Saul. Shiloh was the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant until it
was transferred to David's Jerusalem. King Saul enjoyed the privilege of
God's election until that privilege was taken away from him and given to
David. The vineyard will be "let out to other tenants..."
In Romans 9-11 we find Paul explaining why the Jews have ceased to be
the People of God since the privilege has been given to the Church. The
parable in Mt. 21:33-46 intimates why: in killing the owner's son and
wanting to inherit the vineyard for themselves, the tenants were
revealing their evil intent towards the owner. They too wanted him
killed so that they can have his property. The graphic illustration of
hatred towards the owner is first acted out against his son. Isn't it
that to accept Jesus is to accept the One Who Sent Him? So conversely,
anyone who hates Jesus, hates the Father. In this story of the Tenants
of the Vineyard, the story of Israel's rejection of God's Messiah is
actually presaged. And the Pharisees and chief priests understood it
quite clearly! (cf. 45-46)
That the story is about Christ's rejection is quite clear in v. 42 where
Jesus quotes from Ps. 118:22-23:
The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the
this was the Lord's doing
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Early Christian preaching has used this passage to refer to the
rejection of Jesus by his people and the subsequent vindication he
receives from God in the resurrection (cf. Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7) . A
cornerstone is prepared for a new edifice. The mention of it in the
context of the parable intimates points to Jesus as the cornerstone of a
new building. And God Himself will make this happen. We know when it
does happen: at the glorification of Christ.
The Fruits that will be Rendered Back
The parable mentions the fruits that will finally be made available to
the owner of the vineyard once the proper changes are made. In Matthew,
as in the Gospels, "fruit" is most often associated with righteousness,
hence "fruits of righteousness" and conversely, "fruits of wickedness"
Below are the occurences of the word "fruit" and "fruits" in Matthew's
gospels. Note that it is only in the case of the fig tree that Jesus
curses and the parable of the farmer, where the meaning of "fruit" is
not moral; while in Mt. 26, the reference is to the wine of the Last
Mt 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance.
Mt 3:10 For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree
therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast
into the fire.
Mt 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil
tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Mt 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil
tree bring forth good fruit.
Mt 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut
down, and shall be cast into the fire.
Mt 12:33 Either make the tree good and its fruit good: or make the tree
evil, and its fruit evil. For by the fruit the tree is known.
Mt 13:8 And others fell upon good ground: and they brought forth fruit,
some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold.
Mt 13:23 But he that received the seed upon good ground, is he that
heareth the word, and understandeth, and beareth fruit, and yieldeth the
one an hundredfold, and another sixty, and another thirty.
Mt 13:26 And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth
fruit, then appeared also the cockle.
Mt 21:19 And seeing a certain fig tree by the way side, he came to
it and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he saith to it: May no
fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And immediately the fig tree
Mt 21:41 They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end
and let out his vineyard to other husbandmen that shall render him the
fruit in due season.
Mt 26:29 And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this
fruit of the vine until that day when I shall drink it with you new in
the kingdom of my Father.
Mt 7:16 By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of
thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.
Mt 21:34 And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his
servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits thereof.
Mt 21:43 Therefore I say to you that the kingdom of God shall be taken
from you and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof.
In other words, the "fruit" that is referred to in this passage are not
different from the "fruits of the Spirit" mentoned in Gal. 5 or the
lasting fruits by which the Father is honored in John 15.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Luke For The Week
Below are my reflections on this week's readings from Luke . Only on
Wednesday is their a selection from Matthew.
Posted by biblista
at 9:06 PM
Edited on: Monday, November 28, 2005 4:29 PM
, New Testament
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Dr. Enright and Forgiveness
A propos this
blog, I received a dispatch from Zenit regarding an interview with a
psychologist about forgiveness. Please read this article posted at A
Glitch In Time. In last Sunday's homily on the theme of forgiveness,
I pointed out three steps in forgiving:
1. Stop hating the offending person
2. Forget the reason for the
3. Love the offender
These three steps corresponded to the process that arouses hatred/anger
towards an offender:
1. An offense is made that is seen as an attack towards one; anger is
2. One remembers the offense and lets it simmer; anger
3. When the offender is thus hated, one begins to
Thus, in the process thus described, one has not really forgiven the
other person unless one makes the step to love him, that is, to treat
him once more as a person. In the Enright interview, the psychologist is
quoted as he describes the process he uses in forgiveness therapy:
for those who cannot forgive, I ask, “Are you ready to explore what
forgiveness is and is not?” Such a question does not ask a person to
forgive, but instead to examine what forgiveness is.
If a person has examined the dimensions of forgiveness, I ask, “Are you
ready to examine forgiveness in its most basic form toward the one who
hurt you? Are you willing to try to do no harm toward that person?”
Notice that this question does not ask the person to love the offender,
but to refrain from the negative, to refrain from harming even in subtle
Next comes the question “Do you wish the person well?” Notice that this
shifts the focus to the positive, toward at least a wishing, if not a
deliberate acting toward, wellness in the other person.
All of these questions are intended to move the offended person a little
closer to love. If a person still refuses to forgive, we must realize
that their emphatic “no” today is not necessarily the final word. That
person may change tomorrow. (More
Posted by bible student
at 2:58 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 3:22 PM
, New Testament
Monday, September 12, 2005
Mt. 18:21-35: Forgiveness From The Heart
We can sympathize with Peter when he asks: "Lord, how many times should
I forgive a brother who wrongs me?" And we find the answer to the
question difficult to accept: "Don't count the times you forgive.*" And
then, so as to quash any objections that may arise from his reply, the
Lord immediately proposes a parable about a man who was freed from a
large debt by his master, the king, but who would not do the same for a
person who owed him a mere paltry sum. When the king heard what the man
did, he had him imprisoned until he paid back all he owed to him. And
the Lord concludes the parable with these ominous words: "My
heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of
you forgives his brother from the heart."
"To forgive from the heart." Seen within the context of
Matthew 18:21-35, the phrase means both forgiving with compassion and
forgetting the wrong done. The king had compassion on the man who owed
him a large debt and therefore freed him from it. The word for
compassion used here is the same word that the Gospels use for the
compassion that Jesus feels for the crowds who come to him for healing. Splanchnizomai,
is a strong emotion that is felt in the center of one's being. The king
experienced it when the man in the parable pleaded for more time to pay
what he owed. Knowing that the large amount cannot be paid in a
lifetime, anyway**, the king wrote off the debt. But the man, having
been freed from a debt he could not pay, would not write off the debt of
one who can pay his in this lifetime. Thus, the sadness of those who
witness the man who has been treated graciously deal with a fellow in a
similar situation in a cruel manner. Thus, too, the harshness of the
king when he hears about it.
When was the last time you forgave from the heart?
"Forgive us our sins as we forgave those who sin against us."
This is the daily prayer of the Christian. In that short petition, we
are asking the Heavenly Father to forgive us not out of his sheer mercy,
but in the measure that we forgive others. It actually sounds as if we
are saying: "Because I forgive others, forgive me too." I
have written about the Jewish roots of this idea, so I won't repeat
it here. But in the light of this petition, wouldn't it be quite
presumptuous for me to ask God's forgiveness when I have excluded
certain people from forgiveness.
There are people who think that forgiveness means that one stop from
hating a person who given offense. They would accept an apology but
would not forget the offense committed. The memory of the offense is
allowed to remain at the back of one's head like a mine that one has
buried in a field and forgotten there. Sooner or later, one will step on
that mine and detonate it. The memory of an offense can be buried so
deep that one would think it is no longer there. When it is aroused
however (by a similar incident or by the same person) it can still cause
quite a bit of turmoil. How many people are there who go through life
seething with an anger whose cause they can no longer remember, or even
When was the last time you forgave from the heart?
Stop hating, ... forget the reason for the hatred. "Forgive and forget,"
they say. But this isn't forgiveness yet. Until one allows compassion to
be a part of it, then one's act of forgiveness is incomplete. Compassion
in the Gospels moves one to do something good for the other. Remember
the parable of the Good Samaritan? It was compassion that differentiated
the Samaritan from the priest and the Levite who also saw the suffering
man by the roadside. It is compassion too that made the king in the
parable write off the large debt owed to him thereby allowing his debtor
a new lease on life, so to speak. Unless
one's forgiveness actually moves one to also do something good for the
person forgiven, then the forgiveness one offers is like a cold
handshake -- it will not warm the hearts of those who receive it.
Seven times seventy-seven is five hundred and thirty-nine
times. With the figure, it becomes highly impractical to remember how
many times one forgives one particular person. What the Lord is saying
is "as your brother does not count how many times he wrongs you, so too,
do not count how many times you forgive him."
The "talanton" and the "denarii" that are contrasted in the parable as
the respective amounts owed by the man to the king on the one hand, and
that owed by a fellow servant represent huge disproportionate amounts.
The Filipino version I am using actually translates those words in terms
of PHP 10,000,000.00 as opposed to PHP 500.00.
Posted by bible student
at 2:04 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 2:22 PM
, New Testament
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Col. 3:1-11 Life Between Christ's Glorification and His Return In Glory
Col. 3:1-11 is the first part of Paul's theological introduction to the
practical guidelines section of his letter to the Colossians (3:18-4:9).
The second part is in 3:12-17. That these sections dwell on the life
of the baptized between the time of Christ's glorification and his
coming again in glory is suggested in the lines "you have been raised
with Christ"(v. 1)... and "you also will appear with him in glory" (v.
4). Taking these two moments as reference points for the Christian
life, how is the Christian to live?
(1b)Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at
the right hand of God
(2) Set your minds on things that are
above, not on things that are on earth.
Note the parallelism in these lines. To seek the things that are above (ano),
is to set ones mind on things that are above (ano) . Paul is
here actually drawing a conclusion from an idea that should be obvious
to his readers: the Christian has become -- through baptism -- so
united with Christ that he is even now joined with Christ at the right
hand of God. The Christian, in other words, is already among heavenly
things! Hence, he has to fix his gaze and his hopes on those things
which are proper to his new nature.
It is normal for people to think that in terms of "below-above" when we
think of the spiritual life: I am "below" and God is "above". Hence,
in order to be near Him, I should "go up." Isn't it that the whole idea
of "ascesis" is "to ascend" as implied in the words "ascetic" and
"asceticism"? Paul knew this "ascetic mentality" and talks about it in
Col. 2:23, and he dismisses it as "having an appearance of
wisdom in promoting rigour of devotion and self-abasement and severity
to the body but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the
flesh." Rather he points to an asceticism that is more real and
more in accord with the present situation of the Christian, an
asceticism that is possible because rooted in the recreation of the
Paul writes that the Christian's life is "hid with Christ in God" (v.3)
and that the Christian -- in baptism -- "has put off the old nature with
its practices and has put on the new nature, which is being renewed in
knowledge after the image of its creator." (v. 10). The Christian has
been created anew in Christ. The new nature that Paul refers to
is the new humanity created by God in Christ and to which the Christian
shares in by virtue of his baptism. Christ is "the image of the
invisible God" writes Paul in Col. 1:15 and it is in this image that the
new humanity is renewed in knowledge (3:10). The Christian, may look as
human as anybody else outwardly; but this is only because his life is
hid. As Christ when walking among us looked just like us and talked
like us, so too, the Christian is by all appearances human. Only God
can see who he truly is. In the end, Paul writes, when Christ appears
in glory, so the Christian will also be revealed as God knows and sees
him, to all (cf. Romans 7:19).
The new status of the Christian apud Deum has consequences for
his daily life (3:5-17). Since he is no longer an
"earth-bound-and-death-bound" being, he now has a life that is
Christ-like and Spirit-filled. It is this life which Paul describes as
"living IN Christ" (cf. 2:6-11)
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
A Manuscript From Eyewitnesses?
Read my blog about the Jesus Papyrus here.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Matthew 18:15-20 The Work of Reconciliation
"Reconciliation" in the Scriptures, means "to change a relationship of
enmity into friendship", and this task is given to the Church as is
clear from today's gospel reading. In Matthew 18:18, the task of
binding and loosing -- a task already given to Peter (Matthew 16: 19) --
is given to the whole Church within a passage that deals with "winning
your brother back" (v. 15c).
Forgiveness and reconciliation is of course incumbent upon every
disciple of the Lord. We are reminded of this in passages that talk
about forgiving (Matthew 18:21-22) and reconciling with another on a
legal dispute (Matthew 5:25f), among others. But in Matthew 18:15-17,
it is clear that among members of the Body of Christ, a process that is
motivated by love should be carried out in cases where a relationship
has been wounded.
The Church -- the Body of Christ -- is the agent of reconciliation.
When a brother has offended one, the offended party makes the first
moves towards reconciliation (v. 15). If the offending party does not
listen, then Deut. 19:15 is effected (v.16). Finally, if the offending
party still resists reconciliation, he is reported to the assembly, the
Church itself. If even that fails to move him to reconciliation, it is
then that he is treated as "a Gentile or a publican," that is, as
someone to be saved.
The interpretation of v. 17 may seem strange to a lot of people who have
read 1 Cor. 5:1-5, where Paul is adamant that one who has offended the
Church with his morals should be "put under the power of Satan". But
the case of a man having an incestual relationship with his mother
should merit a closer look, after all, this is no offense against a
brother, taken simply. It is an offense against the whole Church, a
scandal because the immorality involved is not even committed within the
environs of the community where it has transpired (1 Cor. 5:1). Nor is
the case in Matthew 18:15-17 to be understood as comparable to that
envisioned by Paul in 1 Cor. 5:11-13. What is mentioned here is an
"offense against a brother", something that goes against a brother's
honor, which is normally settled in a court. Paul is totally against
Christians bringing another Christian to court (1 Cor. 6:1ff); he'd
rather see them not having any disputes (1 Cor. 6:7-8) nor have any
cause for it (vv.9-11). In Matthew 18:15-17, one finds a procedure that
I think would please Paul. For its aim is not so much settling a
dispute, but to effect reconciliation.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Mt. 16:21-27 -- Being an Alter Christus
Those who have been baptized are called "alter Christus", an "other
Christ". This aspect of the Christian life is underscored in Mt.
16:21-27. The gospel selection for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
(Year A) can be divided in the following way:
Get Behind Me, Satan: The Reproach To Peter
The Disciples' Way of the Cross
The statement "Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself and
take up his cross and follow me" (v. 24) is actually a statement of the
lifestyle of the one who wishes to follow Jesus. The central statement
"take up his cross" points forward to the Way of the Cross. As Jesus
will be carrying the cross of humiliation and shame, so too the disciple
will have to carry his. The two outward statements -- "deny himself ...
follow me" -- recalls all the instances when those whom Jesus calls have
to leave something of themselves behind. The first four fishermen to be
called left behind their nets and boats (in the case of James and John,
they also left behind Zebedee, their father, the one who passed on to
them their trade as fishermen); the rich young man had to discover that
it was not enough to just obey the Mosaic law, he also had to give up
his wealth (Mt. 19:16-22, cf. parallels). Given the connection of the
statement to the previous one about Jesus' prediction regarding his own
future, one is tempted to see here a call to the same process that Jesus
will undergo: suffering, death and resurrection. When Jesus says "follow
me" one might as well ask, "To where?" The gospel of John will give the
answer: "Where I am, there you will also be", that is, to be with Him at
the side of the Father. In Matthew Jesus intimates this in verse 27 when
he refers to his return as the Son of Man who will render to each one
The Son of Man is the celestial being in Daniel 7:13+ who receives from
God all authority, power and kingship. This is the glorious Son of Man
who will return as the Groom, King and Master of the House (cf. Matthew
25). He will share with the wise, the faithful and those who cared for
the little ones the joy that is His. It is I think within this context
that one must understand the statements in vv. 25-26.
Whoever will seek his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life
for my sake will find it. For what profits a man if he gains the whole
world but loses his own soul? What can he give in return for his own
Vv. 21-23 is in continuation with the previous story about Peter's
confession of the who Jesus is. After Simon Bar-Jona identifies Jesus
as "the Messiah (the Christ), Son of the Living God" and gets commended
for it, he shows in vv. 21-23 that he has not fully understood Jesus'
Messiahship. He, like the Devil in Matthew 4:1f, thought of a Messiah
without a Cross. Hence, Jesus calls him by the name "Satan", the
Hindrance. Like Peter, the "alter Christus" must give up one's favorite
image of Jesus for one that is in conformity with God's mind. In a
moment of inspiration, Peter saw Jesus as the Christ, but as a Christ in
glory with authority and dominion. He had to learn that that image of
Christ will become true only AFTER Jesus has become the Suffering
Messiah, obedient only to the Father's word. As the Tempter in Matthew
4:1f learned what Son of God meant, so too must the disciple.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
The Faith of A Pagan: Matthew 15:21-28
The story of the persistent Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 is taken
by the Catechism as an example of prayer borne out of deep faith (CCC,
2610). In fact, the figure of the Canaanite woman and her persistence in
asking for the Lord's help reminds one of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52),
the Parables of Persistent Prayer in Luke (cf. Luke 11:5-10;18:2-5). And
while it can be compared to the case of the Roman centurion as an
example of a healing at a distance, (Mt. 8:5-13), the case of the
Canaanite woman is distinguished by the fact that here, her request was
granted after being rebuffed.
Jesus' initial rejection of the request of the woman for help is
justified in 15:24: "I was sent after the lost sheep of Israel." This
has led some interpreters to think that the story probably came from a
time in Jesus' ministry when the restoration of the people of Israel was
foremost in his thoughts. However, the fact that Jesus relents to the
woman at the end in recognition of her genuine faith, the story probably
became an inspiration for the early Christian missionaries when these in
turn found themselves in Gentile lands. Hence, this narrative provides a
type for the Church in mission to the Gentiles.
This gospel narrative is paired with Romans 11:13-15.29-32 for the 20th
Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year A. This is interesting because Augustine
has a sermon on the Canaanite woman where he makes side comments on this
section of Romans (Sermon 77).
But why were the natural branches rightly broken off? (cf. Rom.
11:17a) Pride. And the wild olive rightly grafted in (Rom. 11:17b)?
Humility. That's why this woman said: "Yes, Lord, for even the dogs
eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of the master" and why he
said in reply: "O woman, great is your faith!"
In this sermon, Augustine had been explaining to his audience their
connection to the Canaanite woman:
With these words ("I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel") the
question arises: how did we come from the gentiles into Christ's
sheepfold, if he was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel? What is the meaning of this profoundly mysterious maneuver by
which the Lord, knowing full well why he had come, which was of course
to have a Church among all the nations, said he had only been sent to
the lost sheep of the house of Israel?
Thus, from this opening question, he explains the story as a
prefiguration of what happens in the time of the apostles when they --
especially in the person of St. Paul -- preached the gospel to the
Gentiles and made possible the "grafting" of the wild olive branches of
gentility into the tree that is Israel.
The story of the persistent Canaanite woman therefore has a typological
sense. It also has a moral sense which Augustine does not hesitate to
pound into his audience:
So notice, brothers and sisters, how it is above all humility that is
being recommended to us in this woman who was a Canaanite, that is,
who came from gentility and was a type -- that is, a representation --
of the Church.
Let's learn, let's keep humility. If we haven't got any yet, let's
learn it. If we don't have it, let us not lose it. If we haven't yet
got it, let's get it andbe grafted in. If we already have it, let's
keep it and not be broken off.
The story of the Canaanite woman is rich. It can be seen as an example
of the persistence of a mother who loves her daughter or the humility of
a pagan in front of the Lord or even a reminder of how the Lord refuses
a request so as to make one's desire more intense. There is a lot of
meat here but all derives from the humble woman whom the Lord praises in
the end: "Oh woman, how great is your faith!"
Posted by bible student
at 2:05 PM
Edited on: Thursday, August 11, 2005 2:46 PM
, New Testament
Monday, August 08, 2005
Jesus Walks On Water: Matthew's Version
Matthew 14:22-33 is a rewriting of Mark 6:45-52, a narrative that
closely follows the feeding of the five thousand (6:34-44) and is
connected to it (see Mk. 6:52). But while in Mark the disciples were not
able to understand the connection between the multiplication of the
loaves and Jesus on the waters, and therefore the significance itself of
this latter, in Matthew, the disciples end up worshipping Jesus as the
"Son of God" that is, as God* (Mark 14:33). This conclusion actually
highlights the Marcan "insinuations" of Jesus' Divinity implied in
Jesus' walking on the waters, the self-presentation "Take courage, I
AM", and the intention to pass them by.
Passages from Ps. 77, 20 and Job 9,8 point to God walking on the Sea.
Ps. 77,20 even mentions the unseen footprints of the Lord on the mighty
Your way was on the sea (byam drkyka)
your path on the mighty waters
no one sees your footprints.
Job 9,8 echoes the mythical language of a hymn about the victory of God
over His enemy Yammu: "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on
the mighty crests of the Sea." With these two passages at the background
of the Marcan phrase "he came toward them walking on the sea" (6:48),
the following "and he meant to pass them by" should echo passages from
the Exodus about the glorious passing of Yahweh. God passing by is God
doing something for his people. And when therefore Jesus says to his
frightened disciples: "Take courage, I AM", it is as if he is bringing
them the consolation that only God can give (cf. Isaiah
"I AM" is the name Yahweh gives Moses in Exodus 3:14. When Moses asked
Him the name by which He would be known by His people, He said: ehyeh
asher ehyeh which most translations would render as "I Am Who Am".
We know now, however, that the Hebrew asher is not always a
relative pronoun ("who" in this instance); it can also be the equivalent
of a colon or a quotation mark. Thus the proper rendering would be "I am
'I AM'". Hence, the following statement becomes easily understandable:
"This is what you shall say to the Israelites: I AM has sent you."
In Matthew's version, the reference to Jesus' intention of passing by
was suppressed and instead, a concrete saving act is supplied. In the
figure of Peter, the disciples express themselves in a dialogue with the
God who saves:
And Peter said to him:
"Lord, if is truly you, command me to come
to you on the water."
And he said:
got out of the boat,
and began to walk on the water
But when he saw how strong the wind was,
he became frightened
he, beginning to sink, cried out: "Lord, save me!"
stretched out his hand
and caught him
said to him: "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?"
"Lord, save me!" The Lord does not abandon those in
Peter's bark to the waves of history that toss it about. He is there as
the Lord of history with his hands stretched out to the men of little
faith who may think that, in a moment of weakness, that the waves are
bigger and the winds stronger than the Lord.
"O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" is a
rebuke. Coming from one who has shown the majesty of His divinity, it
should also be taken as a reminder that when the Lord is near, there can
be no room for fear, only faith.
*The title "Son of God" is not semitic in origin; it is Roman, and
became more and more a title of the Emperor of Rome after Caesar
Augustus. "Divi Filius" is therefore linked to the imperial religion to
which the gospels set themselves up against. In fact, the claim that
Jesus was "Son of God" is a claim that undermines Roman rule, as does
the more Jewish title "Messiah" (XristoV,
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Luke 10:38-42 Martha, the One and the Many
Luke 10:38-42 has been interpreted in the past in terms of the active
and contemplative religious life. According to this understanding of the
text, Martha represents the religious who is engaged in various forms of
apostolate while Mary would stand for those who spend their time in
prayer and contemplation. While some may object to this interpretation
because of its anachronism, there is also some reason to accept it.
After all, Luke in his Acts also narrates an event in the early Church
where the job of serving at tables was delegated to a group of chosen
men so that the apostles can devote themselves to "prayer and the
ministry of the Word (cf. Acts 6:3-4)." This narrative in Acts parallels
the case of Martha who is worried and upset over the many tasks of
hospitality vis-a-vis her sister who is at home at the Lord's feet,
listening to His Word.
There is also another way of taking the symbolisms for Martha and Mary,
as St. Augustine would. Martha represents the toil and labor that
characterizes the present time while Mary's "resting" before the Lord
points us to that time when the moment is no longer marked by human
toil. In other words, the contrast between this life and the life to
come. In this interpretation, Martha and Mary are facets of the
Christian life which is marked by worry and hardship now, but tends
towards rest and contemplation in eternity. Here are Augustine's words:
What, in any case did the Lord say to Martha? Mary has chosen the better
part. Not that you chose a bad one, but she chose better. Listen to what
makes it better: which shall not be taken away from her. Some time
orother the burden of need will be taken away from you; the sweetness of
truth is eternal. What she has chosen will not be taken away from her.
It's not taken away, but still it can be increased. Or rather, in this
life it can be increased; in the next life it will be perfected, it will
never be taken away. (Sermon 103, 5c)
Augustine could have expressed here what he refers to as the otium
sanctum and the negotium caritatis -- that balance of the
"Martha and Mary" facets of the spiritual life. Otium
sanctum (holy leisure) is the contemplative aspect of the
Christian life, a foretaste of the joys that God reserves for those who
love Him. This aspect is characterized by prayer and the adoration of
God in His works -- a preparation for the beatific vision. Negotium
caritatis on the other hand is the business of charity to which
the Christian is daily called. In this life, Augustine seems to say, a
balance of both is needed. Holy leisure is the ideal of the Christian
life, but it should not prevent one from responding to the business of
charity. Martha was not told to stop what she was doing; her attention
was called to the one thing necessary. But Mary has chosen the better
part, and that will not be taken away from her.
this article too from Otium Sanctum.
Posted by bible student
at 2:46 PM
Edited on: Saturday, July 30, 2005 3:19 PM
, New Testament
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The Kingdom and the Scribe
Matthew 13: 44-52 may at first appear unrelated. vv. 44-50 continues the
string of parables about the Kingdom that Jesus tells his hearers
beginning in verse 1. Vv. 51-52 is a concluding remark about the
parabolic lessons just heard. In this remark, Jesus refers to a "scribe
instructed in the kingdom of heaven." What is the relationship
between a kingdom and a scribe? Answer: a king always has a scribe
working for him. Scribes are those who keep records of the kingly
administration., records that are both old and new. Scribes are the
memory of a king's reign; through them, the continuity between a
previous administration to a new one is made possible.
This passage is broken down by the liturgy to smaller passages during
the course of the weekday readings for the 17th week in OT. Here is the
Wednesday, Mt. 13: 44-46
Thursday, Mt. 13: 47-53
In Mt. 13:44-46, the kingdom of heaven is compared to a treasure buried
in a field on the one hand and to a pearl of great price. The first of
these parables emphasizes the hiddenness of the treasure that can be
discovered only by "digging up" the earth, that is, by toil and hard
work. The second emphasizes the search that one undertakes before one
finds a pearl of great price. In both cases, when one finds the kingdom
it is with great joy, and with joy also that one gives up all that one
has for it. Both these parables should somehow remind one of Jesus'
teachings about discipleship and most specifically of the story of the
Rich Man who could not be Jesus' disciple because he could not give up
Mt. 13:47-50 is a parable that can be compared to the one about the
darnel and the wheat because of the reference to the day of judgment
(cf. vv.24-30.36-43). Here however the emphasis is on the coverage
of the kingdom of heaven. At first it gathers in all -- both good and
bad -- and only afterwards will the separation between good and bad
occur. The God who lets the rain fall on both good and bad wants his
kingdom to draw in both good and bad. This should be a reminder to all
that while God wants all to be perfect as He is perfect, He also desires
that the "imperfect" be perfected in His mercy and compassion*.
Mt. 13:51-52 is the saying about the scribe who is compared to the
master of the household who has a rich store of supplies that he can
distribute as provision. Since the scribe passes on memories, this
particular saying of Jesus are for the "teachers" of the Matthaean
community who are supplied with these parables so that they can teach
others what the kingdom of heaven means.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Rom. 8:26-27 Praying When It Is Difficult
"How can one pray when it is difficult to pray?" Rom.
8:26-27 gives us an indication to the answer: the Holy Spirit which has
been poured into our hearts enables us to pray even when we feel we
The word "Spirit" appears in the Letter to the Romans 20 times and 14 of
these instances are found in Romans chapter 8. This only shows that the
word "Spirit" is a key-word in this chapter. The word "Spirit" however
does not have the same value in the way it is used throughout Romans.
Rom. 1:4 "spirit of sanctification"; Rom. 1:9
"my spirit" = I ; Rom. 2:29 "spirit" vs. "letter"; Rom.
7:6 "newness of spirit" vs. "oldness of letter"; Rom.
8:2 "law of the spirit of life" vs. "law of sin and death"; Rom.
8:4 "walk according to spirit" vs. "walk according to the flesh." Rom.
8:5 "flesh-mind" vs. "spirit-mind" Rom. 8:6
"wisdom of the flesh" vs. "wisdom of the spirit" Rom.
8:9 "flesh" vs. "spirit" / "Spirit of God" "Spirit of Christ" Rom.
8:10 "body" vs. "spirit" Rom. 8:11
"Spirit of Him" "His (Christ's) Spirit" Rom. 8:13
"live according to flesh" by the Spirit "mortify deeds of the flesh" Rom.
8:14 Spirit of God Rom. 8:15 spirit of bondage and fear,
spirit of adoption Rom. 8:16 Spirit himself > our spirit Rom.
8:23 firstfruits of the Spirit Rom. 8:26 Spirit ... Spirit Rom.
8:27 Spirit Rom. 11:8 "spirit of insensibility" (as opposed
to the "spirit of wisdom") Rom. 12:11 "in spirit" (as
opposed to "in body")
In all these instances, the Holy Spirit is referred to in the
following verses: Rom. 1:4; Rom. 8:9.11;8:22.214.171.124.23.26.27 .
The passage under consideration therefore refers to the Spirit which is
both called "Spirit of God" and "Spirit of Christ" in 8:9 and "Spirit of
Sanctification" (= "Holy Spirit") in Rom. 1:4. And the function that is
underlined here is that of prayer. The Holy Spirit empowers the baptized
to pray by interceding for him/her through groanings that are
The Catechism makes use of Romans 8:26-27 in synchrony with Hebrews in
explaining the prayer of intercession:
Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus
did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men,
especially sinners. He is "able for all time to save those who draw
near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession
for them "(Heb. 7:25). The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us ...
and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God". (Rom.
8:26-27) (CCC, §2634)
Thus, when we intercede as the Church in behalf of all men and the whole
community of the faithful, we extend on earth what the Lord, our High
Priest, is doing before the Father, and at the same time, we mirror in
our act of intercession what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives.
Romans 8:26-27 when seen within its immediate context gives us an idea of
what the Spirit is doing in our lives as the future of God inexorably
makes itself present. Romans 8:18-30 develops within the contrast "present
sufferings -- future glory". The inexpressible groanings of the Holy
Spirit mirrors the groaning of creation and of the Christian that labours
in pain under the present which is in the process of being transformed
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of
childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although
we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory,
also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait
anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his
children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (8:22-23, NLT)
The Holy Spirit which has been poured into our hearts, enabling us to
call God "Father",(Rom. 5:5;8:15; cf. 8:29) just as Jesus did, is a
companion in this present time of "groaning". In our prayers, He is
there helping us with His own prayers and in so doing, helps us to pray
even when we feel that we cannot (Rom. 8:26). It is thus, that in times
of anguish and distress brought about by the difficulties of the
present, it is the Holy Spirit that helps the Christian raise his/her
heart to God and pray with faith for all that he/she needs.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Parables of the Kingdom
Matthew 13:24-43 continues the theme of Jesus teaching in parables. The
first part of the passage is a series of parables about the "kingdom of
heaven." Parable, here, should be understood as a simile, since Jesus
prefaces a parable with the explanation "X can be likened to Y". (The
NLT translates "illustration")
The longest parable deals with the question of the bad and good being
mixed up in the kingdom (v. 24-29). Here it is about the wheat and the
tares, the first having been planted by the farmer and the second by the
enemy, i.e. the devil. One might as well ask: "Why is it that inspite of
the fact that all of us hear the same Word of God, not all turn out to
be good believers?" The emphasis in the parable, however, is how to deal
with those weeds which the enemy has planted: the owner of the field
tells his worker not to uproot the weeds immediately, but to wait until
harvest (= Judgment Day) when these will be separated from the wheat:
Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say
to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles
for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn." (v.30)
The parable is given its explanation in the last part of the passage
(vv. 37-43). Note the attitude of the owner of the field: he does not
uproot the bad so as to protect the good. Even if the weeds continue to
grow, the owner of the field is still the Master of what he owns; He is
in control and has an appointed time for the weeds. Some Christians find
it scandalous that in the congregation they go to, they recognize people
whom they know to live immoral lives. There are denominational groups
that even excommunicate a member for not living according to the moral
standards the group has defined, e.g. a girl who cuts her long braid
finds herself excommunicated because her group believes that females
should have long hair, or a male TV star gets the same treatment because
he appears in a beer commercial. The Lord however sees the Church as a
mixture of wheat and tares while it continues its pilgrimage on earth.
Only on Judgment Day will the true sons and daughters of God be
manifested (cf. Romans).
The second parable is another parable about the mustard seed (31-32). In
another parable that is well known, the mustard seed -- the smallest of
all seeds -- is compared to faith. No matter how small one's faith is,
so long as it is there, one can do the impossible. Here the comparison
is to the Word that is sown but then grows into a shelter that can be a
home to a great variety of people. Here, mustard tree that emerges from
the smallest of seeks evokes the image of the Church that draws to her
bosom the men and women of all races (= the birds of the sky)
The third parable is about the leaven-like characteristic of the kingdom
of heaven (v. 33). In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord spoke of the
Church as "salt of the earth and light of the world." In this passage he
compares it to the yeast that the baker mixes with flour until the dough
rises and becomes a loaf of bread. The kingdom of heaven is to the world
of men and women like yeast is to dough. The quality of the world should
"rise" wherever the Church is inserted into its life.
The central part of this discourse is another explanation as to why
Jesus speaks in parables (vv. 34-35):
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said
through the prophet:
"I will open my mouth in parables,
will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world."
In a previous instance, the Lord tells his disciples that he speaks in
parables so that those only whom God has disposed to listen to Him may
truly benefit from His words (cf. "No one comes to me until the Father
draws Him"). In this sense, the parabolic form of Jesus' teachings
already have the characteristic of judgment: there are those who will
listen but not hear (See Matthew 13:10-17).
In the present passage, the idea of "parable" is taken from the quoted
psalm 78, which is a prophetic recitation of Israel's salvation history.
In this psalm "parable" is synonymous with "hidden lessons", i.e. about
something that is shared between God and his people and which nobody
else can understand or know about. In this sense, the parable is also
something that hides when it is disclosed. It is for this reason that
the Lord, when alone with his own, explains to them the hidden things he
announces (vv. 36-43).
Posted by biblista
at 3:39 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, July 13, 2005 3:41 PM
Categories: New Testament
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Matthew 11:19b Wisdom's Children or Works of Wisdom?
In Matthew 11:16-19 Jesus compares the towns where he has been preaching
to children playing in the marketplace: they won't respond to the dirge
of the Baptist's asceticism or to the flute of Jesus' joyful
announcement of the good news. In Filipino, one can even interject that
"this generation" is sala sa init, sala sa malamig.
Then Jesus concludes his comparison with a wisdom saying that has been
rendered differently by different translations.
kai edikaiwqh h sofia apo twn teknwn authV
But Wisdom is justified by her children (New King James Version)
Wisdom is justified of her children (American Version)
Yet Wisdom is
justified by her deeds (NJB)
Yet Wisdom is vindicated by her works
Yet time will prove where Wisdom lies (NAB)
But Wisdom is
shown to be right by what results from it (NLT)
Notice that the NKJV and the AV represent very literal renderings of the
original with minor differences in the interpretation of apo.
The NJB and NRSV however represent an effort to render the concept
behind "Wisdom's children" where "children" are understood as those that
are "effected" by Wisdom. In this sense, the New Living Translation is
more explicit in its line of interpretation when it chooses a longer
rendering "by what results from it (Wisdom)." Given
this sampling of renderings, the NAB seems to represent a wholly
different line of thought: where does it get the idea of time? Was the
translator imagining a word like aharit ("generation after" which
can also conceivably stand for "children") behind the Greek teknon?.
The NAB translation however retains the enigmatic character of the
saying. The line of interpretation followed by the NJB, NRSV and NLT
however lends well to the larger context, if we would include the
following prophetic oracles over the unrepentant towns within it. This
latter ends with a prayer where Jesus mentions "children" as opposed to
the "wise and the clever."
At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord
of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things from
the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
This would make the "works of Wisdom" repentance and faith in Jesus'
words. But given the literal translation of the NKJV and AV (also the
Douay-Rheims and Vulgate), would it still be necessary to do so?
Wisdom's children would be the community of faith itself.
Posted by bible student
at 12:51 PM
Edited on: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 1:20 PM
Categories: New Testament
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
In the early Church, prophecy was considered a charism that was given
for the building up of the community of the faith (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28;
Eph. 4:11). In fact, Paul and Barnabas and even Silas were numbered
among these (Acts 13:1; 15:32). That Jesus himself will be warning his
disciples about false prophets (Mt. 7:15) is interesting in that by the
time the synoptic Gospels were being written (70-90 AD), such false
prophets have arisen to deceive many (Mt. 24:11). In Matthew 24:24,
"False Christs" are even mentioned with "false prophets."
In Acts 13:7-8, one finds the case of a false prophet from among the
Jews who tried prevent the conversion of a high official to
Christianity. But in 2 Peter 2:1, it is clear that the false prophets
will be coming from within the community of faith itself. In 1 Jn.
4:1ff, John says that the false prophets will "go out"; and these are
mentioned together with the anti-christs who have gone out from the
community of faith itself. By the time the Apocalypse was completed the
false prophet has become the ally of all that goes against the Lamb and
His own (cf. Rev. 16:13; 19:20;20:10)
In Matthew 7:16, Jesus tells his disciples the way to distinguish false
prophets: by their fruits ye shall know them. The "fruit" referred to
here are fruits of righteousness that correspond to Paul's "fruits of
the Spirit" (cf. Gal. 5). In 2 Peter 2:1ff one finds a list of the kind
of fruits these false prophets bear:
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there
shall be among you lying teachers who shall bring in sects of
perdition and deny the Lord who bought them: bringing upon themselves
swift destruction. And many shall follow their riotousness, through
whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through
covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.
... And especially them who walk after the flesh in the lust of
uncleanness and despise government: audacious, self willed, they fear
not to bring in sects, blaspheming. ...But these men, as irrational
beasts, naturally tending to the snare and to destruction, blaspheming
those things which they know not, shall perish in their corruption:
Receiving the reward of their injustice, counting for a pleasure the
delights of a day: stains and spots, sporting themselves to excess,
rioting in their feasts with you: Having eyes full of adultery and of
sin that ceaseth not: alluring unstable souls: having their heart
exercised with covetousness: children of malediction.
Leaving the right way, they have gone astray, ... These are
fountains without water and clouds tossed with whirlwinds, to whom the
mist of darkness is reserved. For, speaking proud words of vanity,
they allure by the desires of fleshly riotousness those who for a
little while escape, such as converse in error: Promising them
liberty, whereas they themselves are the slaves of corruption.
For by whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave. For
if, flying from the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they be again entangled in them and
overcome: their latter state is become unto them worse than the
former. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of
justice than, after they have known it, to turn back from that holy
commandment which was delivered to them. For, that of the true proverb
has happened to them: The dog is returned to his vomit; and: The sow
that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Ex. 16:18 In Paul's Plea For Generosity
2 Cor. 8:1-15 is the introduction to Paul's collection memo for the
Corinthians which begins in 8:1 and ends in 9:15. In this memo he
informs the Corinthians that Titus and some other designated assistants
(8:18.23) will be making the rounds and collecting the donations of the
Christian communities for the mother Church in Jerusalem. In 8:9-15,
Paul makes a plea for generosity. Drawing from the example of the Lord
Himself (v. 9) and reminding the Corinthians how they were the first to
decide that a collection be made for the mother Church (v. 10), Paul
encourages them to continue what they've begun. Then he writes something
that is valid even today for individuals or groups who are asked for
As long as readiness is there, a man is acceptable with whatever he can
afford; never mind what is beyond his means. This does not mean that to
give relief to others you ought to make things difficult for yourselves:
it is a question of balancing what happens to be your surplus now
against their present need, and one day they may have something to spare
that will supply your own need. That is how we strike a balance: as
scripture says: The man who gathered much had none too much, the
man who gathered little did not go short.
The quotation from Scriptures is actually from Exodus 16:18, an episode
from the "manna" incident. There the Israelites were instructed to
collect manna that will be sufficient for a day. Some of the Israelites,
motivated by greed, gathered more than was necessary; some others were
sparing in the amount of manna they gathered. At the end of the day,
however, everyone discovered that each had gathered what was sufficient.
In short, whether one gathered more or less, there was enough manna for
each one to satisfy the day's hunger.
This miracle of the ever sufficient food from heaven is interpreted in
the Book of Deuteronomy as a lesson about the Word of God:
He fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to
make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man
lives on everything that comes from the mouth of Yahweh. (Deut. 8:3)
God provides what is sufficient; and He provides according to His Word,
human greed (getting more than is sufficient) and laziness (getting less
than is sufficient) notwithstanding. This would be one of the meanings
of the manna incident in Ex. 16:18 if understood from within the Mosaic
discourse in Deut. 8:3. But Paul seems to draw a social implication
from Ex. 16:18, an implication that is suggested by the whole of verses
The sons of Israel did this (cf. verse 16). They gathered it some more,
some less. When they measured in an omer what they had gathered,
the man who had gathered more had not too much, the man who had gathered
less had not too little. Each found he had gathered what he needed.
The omer that is mentioned here is a measuring device that
can contain one-tenth of an ephah (16:36). I would suggest that since
everyone was required to keep only the manna that can be contained in an omer,
those who had gathered more than an omer gave the extra manna to those
who had less than an omer. Thus, in the end, each Israelite had
manna that was equivalent to one omer. It is the "balance" that
Paul mentions in 2 Cor. 8:9-15: one's lack now will be filled up by the
abundance of the other so that no one will be in need.
We are daily faced by inequalities in our society. If we look hard at
the things we have, we may find out that we have more than we need. We
may even find out that we have in abundance is precisely what another
lacks in his/her need. Perhaps it is time we give up what we have in
abundance to fill up the need we find in others so that we can
contribute to the betterment of our society.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
An Article On The Deity of Christ by Bruce Metzger
Bruce Metzger, the famous textual critic whom the "Ang Tamang Daan"
INC-panelists like to cite in their favor has an article on the Divinity