I am not able to attend this moring as we are celebrating Maryellen’s birthday in Paris. Comments from anyone attending are welcome. The reading for today covers a number of somewhat difficult topics. The topics include divorce, eunuchs, wealth, children, and disciples position in Christ’s kingdom.
Jesus said couples should not divorce, but recognized that it was not possible for all to obey this because of the human condition and we are weak at times. This is a chapter in which Jesus is stating how perfect we must be to enter the kingdom on our own and how difficult that is.
His discussion about eunuchs seems to me to question the Catholic church’s requireenter of celebacy and how difficult that is to maintain. He also talks about the time in life that people become eunuchs for a variety of reasons.
He welcomes childRen to his kingdom. This seems the easiest thing he says in this chapter, but maybe not for all. Some people abuse children. But it maybe a child’s innocence that is the entry key. But it even seems that some children lose that too quickly.
the words spoken to the rich young man can be in structure to all of us. How can we keep the wealth and things in our lives stand in the way of our relationship with God. Jesus says the young man must give that which stands in his way of the kingdom to get there. What does that mean for each of us? It is not good deeds that we can do but rather keep those things from our lives that stand in our way.
it is somewhat contradictory that Jesus then promises the disciples prominent places in the kingdom. My thought is to expect a lack of classes in the kingdom. It is hard to understand the kingdom, and what it will be like. It would be interesting to put all of Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom to get a better picture. I am sure someway has done this.
After reading Matthew 18, we began to discuss various issues, but tended to focus on the verses that talked about dealing with a brother who had sinned. The prescription given by Jesus is to go that person and talk with him, and if he continues to sin, to bring 2-3 others and continue to talk with him. Mark says that when discipline is invoked on a parishioner that there is a responsibility to continue to reach out to that person and continue to care for their spiritual needs. We then got into how judgmental we can be in some instances. Norm described an instance he had with a friend and felt he might have been too judgmental with the friend. As he and the friend parted, Norm said come see me again, and the friend said no, you are too hard to visit. I think it is hard to be confrontational in many cases because it requires that I make a judgment about a behavior and it is many times easier to walk away and let it go. Mark said it is the community and its mores that determines what is sin. It seems that is a very difficult thing to live with. Was the fact that dancing was prohibited at Luther College in the 50s really a sin because it was the mores of that school and those people at that time. What changes as the community changes and the mores change? Is there anything that is inviolate for all times? Living in community is a learned activity and may be self serving. Could it become sinful? I think so!! At the conclusion, Bill noted that we had skipped verses 7-9 about cutting off those members that offend us. Maybe we need to discuss them at a future time. Tom suggested that a resolution for 2015 was for the Lost Boys to undertake some kind of service project.
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and enjoy their families and friends!!!
Pope Francis is 78 today. We discussed the transfiguration. It is foretold in Malachi 4:5-6 that Elijah will return after being taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. The purpose of the gospels is to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. John the Baptist is barely mentioned yet Jesus says that is who it is about. Jesus had said that he would come on the wings of angels in the glory of the Father. Is the transfiguration the coming he was talking about? The whole issue of messianic secrets is another mystery. We discussed people who have a lightening experience and have changed the direction in their lives much like Paul on the road to Damascus.
There is a difference between Baptism by John the Baptist and the baptisms of the early church. Luther said you should remember your baptism in your daily life, and do not commit your former deadly sins.
A question came up about infant baptism and John G. came up with the following answer:
“Luther freely admitted that infant baptism is neither explicitly commanded or explicitly mentioned in Scripture.”
and, “The direct witness of Scripture is by itself not strong enough to provide an adequate basis for beginning infant baptism were it not already practiced.”(from The Theology of Martin Luther by Paul Althaus)
“If this sacrament were to be given to adults and older people, I think it could not possibly have retained its power and its glory against the tyranny of greed and superstition which has everywhere laid waste to divine things. Doubtless the wisdom of the flesh would here too have devised its preparations and worthiness, its reservations, restrictions, and I know not what other snares for taking money, until water fetched as high a price as parchment does now.” (“THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF THE CHURCH”)
So it appears that Luther was motivated to defend infant baptism not only because it was a prevailing practice, but also for the same reason that he railed against indulgences. Adult baptism would simply give the church authorities another means to exploit someone for financial gain.
“Even so it is not baptism that justifies or benefits anyone, but it is faith in the word of promise, to which baptism is added. This faith justifies, and fulfils that which baptism signifies.” (“THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF THE CHURCH”)
Mark gave us a short Greek lesson with words dealing with the sign of Jonah.
There was a discussion of verse 13 in which Peter makes the statement that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus says on this rock, I will build my church. Some say He is referring to Peter, others to the faith statement that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It is very interesting that almost as soon as Peter makes this faith statement, that Jesus reprimands him for saying that Jesus will not have to face death in Jerusalem when He goes there. It is as if we are being reminded of how easy it is for us to not understand the workings of the Way that Jesus was preaching and to fall into sinful ways. Jesus says to Peter, “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Vs 23 Jesus has said church built on rock then says get thee behind me Satan. Satan means adversary or accuser or person in the way of God.
Jesus makes a statement about avoiding the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees and the disciples misinterpreted it as talk about bread. Jesus said that they had misinterpreted Him when they thought he was talking about not having bread, but rather He was talking about getting caught up in all of the misinterpretations and petty rules promoted by the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees demanded signs that he truly the Messiah. It reminds me of the city fathers in The Music Man wanting credentials from the Music Man. Jesus says that no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah and this may refer to the fact that Peter is also called Simon bar Jonah and again refers to his confession about the Son of Man. This is a repeat of chapter 12 verse 38 with the Pharisees asking for a sign.
Verse 28 is interpreted by some as the second coming and its immediacy in the view of many at that time. Maybe it was referring to the transfiguration that came shortly but maybe it also could be referring to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In verses 24-28, Jesus gives his prescription of how we should follow him. Jesus when the Son of Man comes again, he will repay each person according to what he has done. This is my great fear if I do what I should with my life. Mark suggested that the Son of God decision theology says yes, I’m in.
Words of penance are to focus and to commit your hope to not repeat the offense. Office of the keys important in the Catholic church
Warren presented slides from his recent trip to Israel. They showed visits to the area of Galilee, including the church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, Church of the Multiplication (Feeding of the 5,000) and Church of the Beatitudes. The visit to Jerusalem included stops at Bethlehem and the church commemorating the birth of Jesus, then in Jerusalem, there were visits to the Wailing wall, the stations of the cross, the church of the tomb and Golgotha.