Different Kinds of Pearls

Holy-Face-of-Jesus-23Off the shores of the Philippines, a fisherman discovered a very large, misshapen pearl. It was not pretty. It looked more like an amoeba, with blobs and folds everywhere. He took the unusual find home and stowed it under his bed. When he moved ten years later he gave it to one of his relatives for safe keeping. The relative was part of the local tourism office. The 75 lb.-170,000 carat pearl is on display in the city hall of Puerto Princesa. It happens to be the world’s largest pearl, with an estimated worth of roughly $100 million. Continue reading

Football and the grocery store

Fla-Ga-footballWhen I left my home in Orlando to attend the US Naval Academy back in 1970, I arrive in a completely foreign land inhabited by football teams about which I had no knowledge. My plebe (freshman) year our first game was against Colgate. The place where Colgate toothpaste was invented? It had a recognizable name so I assumed it had a reasonable football program. What did I know? I knew that there was SEC football and who cares.  Saturdays in the South are about as sacrosanct as Sundays. Football is tradition, loyalty, identity, passion an, to borrow a title from the book by Will Blythe, “To Hate Like This is to Be Happy Forever.” Passion runs deep. Continue reading

Comes down from heaven

John 6+crowd+feedingWrapping up our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

32 So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

At verses 12 and 27 (gathering the fragments after feeding the crowd and referencing perishable food), Jesus implicitly linked the feeding miracle with the manna story of Exodus 16. In v.32, he does so explicitly. For the second time in this chapter Jesus prefaces his remarks with the solemn, Amen, amen, I say to you. Continue reading

Winnie the Pooh, Rabbit, Martha and Mary

A Very Merry Pooh Year“Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Lk 10:38-42)

Patrica Datchuck Sanchez had an interesting beginning to her commentary on the Martha and Mary story in Luke’s gospel: Continue reading

The challenge

John 6+crowd+feedingContinuing our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

 30 So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Throughout vv. 27–31, Jesus and the crowd use the same words but with very different meanings, another instance of the Johannine literary technique of misunderstanding. The crowd’s questions in v. 30 repeat key words from vv. 26–29: “sign” (sēmeion, v. 26), “do” (poieō, v. 28), “see” (eidete, v. 26, idōmen, v. 30), “believe” (pisteuō, v. 29), “work” (ergazomai, vv. 27–28). They shift the burden of who is to work from themselves (vv. 27–29) to Jesus (v. 30). The crowd’s questions imply a contingency: They will do God’s work only if Jesus does God’s work first and performs a sign. Continue reading

Treasure and Pearls: two parables

Two Parables. Matthew apparently intends the parable of the treasure to be interpreted together with the parable of the pearl, which immediately follows. The two parables do have common features: (I) In each case only a brief vignette of a crucial situation is given, without enough details to evaluate them as realistic stories. The interpreter should, therefore, be wary of filling in the gaps from pious imagination, but concentrate on what the parable does, in fact, portray. (2) The primary common feature is surely central to the meaning of each: The protagonist goes and sells everything for the sake of the one thing. This is the action of both the plowman and the merchant. This movement of the story as a whole is to be compared with the kingdom of God, for the kingdom is “like” neither the “treasure” of v. 44 nor the “merchant” of v. 45, but in each case somehow like the story as a whole. In each case, the protagonist acts with the single-minded response of the “pure in heart.” From the story in Mark 10:17-31, Matthew and his community had long known of the kingdom’s demand of “all,” and of one who had failed (cf. esp. Mark 10:21, where selling everything and giving it to the poor is connected with true “treasure”). Continue reading

Things to treasure

buried-treasureThe parable of the “pearl of great price” and “treasure buried in a field” are well known. Did you know that these are unique to Matthew’s gospel? ““The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Continue reading

For what are you working?

John 6+crowd+feedingContinuing our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

 27 Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” 28 So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” Continue reading

Are we missing something?

wheatToday’s gospel, the explanation of the parable of the weeds in the field, almost begs the question…. where is the parable? The parable was Saturday’s gospel. When asked to explain the parable, Jesus’ answer is to the point and stark: “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age” ….at the end of the age. Continue reading

Why are you looking?

John 6+crowd+feedingContinuing our look into the gospel for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time….

24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

The implication of the narrative is the crowd who finally caught up with Jesus in Capernaum could not have known about the miraculous events (vv.16-21) of the evening nor would they have had an opportunity to react to the ego emini statement – to even ponder, “Who is this that calms the sea.” Their last encounter with Jesus was at the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and their desire then was to take Jesus by force and make him kind. It is at this point Jesus withdrew from them as the people wanted to remake the Messiah in their own conception. Jesus would not allow that; perhaps Jesus does not want to be found by the crowd “looking for Jesus.Continue reading