God and Epiphany

in my fathers houseSeveral years ago I was researching for my master’s thesis on early Franciscan Missions. One of the really interesting aspects of the early Franciscan missions was the one to China. The friars arrived in China in 1292 and John of Montecorvino was the first bishop of Beijing. But all that is besides the point. In the course of my research I ran across The Travels of Marco Polo in which he describes his travels in the far east. I was scanning the text to see if he had any mention of contact with the friars or the Christian monasteries that dotted the silk road in those days. Continue reading

Evangelii Gadium

EVANGELII_GAUDIUM3.inddJust some snippets which I wanted to share….

Para 22: “God’s word is unpredictable in its power. The Gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). The Church has to accept this unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking.”

Para 24: “An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The Lord gets involved and he involves his own, as he kneels to wash their feet. He tells his disciples: “You will be blessed if you do this” (Jn 13:17). An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”

David and Goliath – a second look

I suspect most folks know and can tell some version of the story of David and Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17). It is a narrative that lends itself to story telling for people of all ages.  It is also a story that is so familiar that when we attempt to study the biblical passage we are likely to engage in isogesis, placing our interpretation upon the text, rather than exegesis, letting the story inform us. I regularly lead a bible study with emphasis on “study.”  I think the line I most often use is some variation of “Is that what the text says?”

With that as background, have a look at the ever interesting Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on David and Goliath

Boundaries, Faith, and Gratitude – Faith

he_qi_road_to_emmaus11  As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

People of faith.  Stand up and go; your faith has saved [sozo] you” (v.19). Such are the words spoken to the Samaritan leper, the only one who returned and gave thanks to Jesus.  sozo has as a basic meaning, “to rescue from danger and to restore to a former state of safety and well being.” Thus it is translated with words like “save,” “heal,” “make whole,” depending upon how the danger is understood.  How are we to understand the use of sozo here in this verse? Continue reading

Lazarus and the Rich Man – Act 2

Act 2 – The Rich Become Poor and the Poor Become Rich

The Act is briefly told and simply describes the fate of our two characters. “When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and from the netherworld, where he was in torment…” (vv.22-23a). We are not told how Lazarus died. Was it starvation? Again we are reminded of Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisees. “Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (14:12-14).  Was it exposure and hypothermia while the rich man slept nearby? Infected sores while the rich enjoyed baths and healing ointments? Perhaps weakened and unable to defend himself, the dogs took his life. Continue reading

Lazarus and the Rich Man – Act 1

Act 1 – The Tableau

The first three verses contain a sharp contrast in description between Lazarus and the unnamed “lover of money.”

  • The rich man is clothed in purple and fine linen where Lazarus is covered with sores or ulcers
  • The rich man “dined sumptuously each day” while Lazarus longed to eat what fell from the table, but can’t.
  • The rich man lives a privileged life while Lazarus ebeblêto pros ton pulôna, literally, “had been thrown before the gate” of the rich man’s house.

It is perhaps noteworthy that the first word in a Greek phrase is a position of stress, as is the last word in a phrase.  Even the Lucan grammar seems to stress the contrast between the two men: Continue reading