The long arc of one’s life

Yesterday’s reflection began: What lies in the heart of men? If we would rely on the introduction from the popular radio series the Shadow, our answer would be – “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”  In a way the history of the reign of King Solomon is a story that connects to that ominous question.

Our first readings for a while now have been from 1 Kings. As we had heard in 2 Samuel the story of King David, our foray into the Book of 1 Kings continues the narrative of the Kings of Judah and Israel, the one charged with ensuring the people of the nation were faithful to the covenant of God. The narrative begins with the transition of kingship from David to Solomon, a story of ambition, betrayal, assassination, but eventually Solomon ascends the throne. Here is a synopsis of the this week’s first readings: Continue reading


Did you know that Scripture offers other “blessings” apart from the well-know Beatitudes. There are many beatitudes in the Hebrew Bible. Sunday’s psalm, in its original language reads:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Ps 1:1–2).

Beatitudes in general belong to the Wisdom strands of the Old Testament, reflecting popular experience of what “works” to make a person happy (Ps 1:1, 41:1; Prov 14:21; Sir 31:8). Continue reading

The Sermon of reversals

This coming Sunday is the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, with several days of context behind us, we can look at more details, picking up with additional thoughts on blessings and woes.

While Matthew’s Beatitudes give us only nine blessings, Luke has carefully paired four blessings with four woes or curses, even to using the same words in corresponding pairs. Luke draws the contrast in the pairs between groups of people: (1) poor-rich, (2) hungry-full, (3) those who weep-those who laugh, and (4) those who are hated-those of whom people speak well.

In addition to simply pairing the blessings and curses and thus contrasting the groups, Luke also reverses the groups of people within each saying, so that, for example, in the blessing the hungry will be filled, while in the corresponding woe those who are filled will become hungry. This serves to highlight not only the positive reversal that is a blessing for one group, as Matthew does, but also the corresponding negative outcome on the opposite group.

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