bible blog 561

This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily radings along with a healine from world news:

SHALIT GOES HOME. ONE ISRAELI WORTH A THOUSAND PALESTINIANS TO ISRAEL 

1 Corinthians 15:41-50

41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

agrees with St. Paul

I heard Stephen Pinker on the Radio this morning stating that human beings are made of molecules and opining that religious believers mistakenly think that they also have an eternal soul. Paul agrees with Pinker that human beings are made of dust, that is of perishabkle stuff which cannot “inherit immortality”  Our new life, according to Paul, happens with God, outside of all universes. About such a matter, scientists have no eveidence and should say nothing more than that.

1. Using the metaphor of a seed Paul suggests that there is “continuity in discontinuity” between our human being and our “being –with-God.” The body that we are in this present life perishes but the spiritual body is a transformation of “what we have been”.

2. The life we share in Christ which begins in this present life will be fully manifested in the life to come. It therefore cannot be described fully, but because we know it in part we believe that it will be glorious and strong.

3. Christ, the “last Adam” has been raised from death as a life-giving spirit whose life we share “in the body of Christ.” Paul goes on to say much more about Jesus’ resurrection, which is at the heart of his teaching about our resurrection life.

4. “But of course you’re really just talking in symbols,” some will say. Yes, I answer, but the precise details of the symbols are important, like E=mc2

Paul’s symbolic language expresses the experience of Christian believers. Each human person is created for eternal life: that is their equality.

Matthew 11:25-30

25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew gives us two things here: a prayer and an invitation.

The prayer is very remarkable in its directness: Jesus calls God, “Father,” (Abba in his own Aramaic language). Because of the later doctrine of the Trinity, it’s important to note that this language is symbolic or parabolic: Jesus compares his relationship to God with that of an (only) son to a father. The father knows, trusts and relies upon the son; the son knows the father and carries out his will. Other people can only know the father (who remains at home) through the son. Because this relational language was subsequently used to express fixed identities by the church, it’s easy to miss its freshness and affection. We were told at college that these words could never have been spoken by the historical Jesus. I ask, why not? Jesus was just as likely as anyone to talk about relationship to God. Jesus used them in the context of thanking God for “concealing” the simplicity of his love and goodness (his kingdom) from the clever (who didn’t want to know it) and revealing it to people without self-importance (who were open to receive it.) My long experience of myself confirms Jesus’ words. When I’m full of myself and arrogant about my knowledge I do not accept the gift of God’s goodness; when I regain humility, I welcome it with open arms.

an easy yoke

The invitation uses the language of the Jewish Wisdom Literature. “Yoke” is the usual word for the “Way” of a particular teacher. Jesus’ central point is that as the “son” of the fatherly God he offers a yoke which is designed to guide rather than to burden. (Jesus had probably made yokes for farmers.)  He gently depicts himself as the other animal in the yoke and promises that the shared labour will bring rest rather than exhaustion.

I would argue that in both prayer and invitation Jesus invests traditional language with new freshness and intimacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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