Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year 1

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:1-12, 27-32; Matthew 13:24-34

We could say more but could never say enough;
let the final word be: ‘He is the all.’

I love the 'wisdom' books, especially Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon from the apocrypha. When people have shallow arguments over whether the Bible is "true," they usually reduce it to banal carping over whether the Earth was created in six days or pointing out or defending chronological inconsistencies in the gospels. Rarely does anyone seem to ask, or care, whether the Bible contains truth. That there can be truth in something that is not necessarily true from a historical or scientific standpoint is lost on a lot of people.

* * * * *

I really need to read Rob Bell's new book Love Wins. The gist of it, as I understand it, is that none of us goes to hell. I think I can understand theologically and scripturally how one gets there, but I'm not sure you can do it without disregarding a lot of other important passages that seem to make it very clear that some will be shut out of the Kingdom, especially from the Gospel of Matthew.

Today's lesson is an interesting one with a series of three parables; the last one is so brief, it's only one sentence, but it is notable that Jesus says "the kingdom of heaven is like a woman." The second parable is a famous favorite trope for the "is the Bible true" crowd, because it refers to a mustard seed as "the smallest of all seeds," which scientifically we know today is not correct. Again, we miss the forest for the trees, or the mustard shrubs, as it were. Why ignore the wisdom of the saying over a technical irrelevance?

It's the first and longest of the three stories for today that is best known and what I wish to ponder.

The parable of the tares is one of many apocalyptic passages in Matthew that seem to refer to Judgment Day, when the good will be separated from the bad, which in this tale are bound into bundles and burned.

But a closer reading does not support the notion that the meaning of this parable is that some people will be separated out. The kingdom of heaven is compared to "someone who sowed good seed in his field." Then an enemy comes overnight and sows weeds in among the wheat. This is interesting; it's not good wheat and bad wheat, it's two different kinds of plants. One kind came from the farmer, the other kind came from an enemy. Maybe it doesn't refer at all to "good" people and "bad" people and judgment, but rather God's wisdom in letting us grow, even with bad things in and among us, content in the knowledge that at the harvest time everything will work out the way it was meant to, and the enemy's efforts were in vain.

Sorry this post is late, I was working later than anticipated last night and then when I went back and re-read what I had written, I hated it and deleted it and started over.

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