bible blog 1205

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:

Scottish Government sets out plan for Independence scot

Matthew 19:23-30

New English Translation (NET)

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! 24 Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” 25 The disciples were greatly astonished when they heard this and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said to him, “Look, we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” 28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And whoever has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

The joke about the camel and the needle is that you might just squeeze it through if it wasn’t for that blasted hump….camel

Dom Helder Camara, late bishop of Recife, Brazil, prayed that he should never be allowed to forget the terrible things Christ said to the rich. Only God can persuade a rich person to forego his wealth and serve the goodness of God in the world. This is a footnote to the story of Jesus and the rich young man (Bible blog 1204).

In this passage Peter voices the kind of protest all genuine disciples might want to make: are we doing all this for nothing? Is there no reward?

Jesus says clearly that there are rewards in the “world to come”.  Jewish people, and Jesus also I guess, thought of this new world as being a renewed earth rather than a nebulous heaven. There will be positions of honour for faithful disciples; dear ones, households, property and farms that will more than recompense for what they have lost in this life; and their splendid life will last forever. But everyone should be sure that worldly hierarchies of wealth, power, or even  holiness, will not be reproduced in the world to come. 

All such expressions are images of “life in God.” The earth and all its history is not abandoned but somehow completely renewed in God’s goodness; and those who lived by the vision of God’s goodness will be rewarded. Do I understand this? No. Can I explain it in terms that would satisfy and scientist, or a child? No. Am I therefore ready to put it in the dustbin of outdated beliefs? Certainly not! I trust in it passionately and am convinced that it is an essential part of Christian faith. rainbow

Even if could accept that my experience of life was a reward in itself without need for any other, I could not be so wilfully blind as to think that this is true of most of humanity, whose lives are menaced daily by hunger, disease, tyranny and violence; or of the creatures of the earth who suffer the brutalities of humanity. God is not God if there is no justice, no recompense ; no splendid life.  

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