Today’s first passages comes from the Gospel according to Luke:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
This particular passages always makes me cringe a little at the end. The question that Jesus asks at the end seems directed not towards the disciples, but to us who read so very many years later. I have no doubt it was intentional- Jesus knew those words of His would be saved and recorded, and would serve as a warning to his disciples in later ages. But at the same time, it should also encourage us, for He cared for us who did not exist even then. Such is His love for us, that it transcends time.
This brings me to the second passage today, from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:
14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
(1 Corinthians 4:14-21)
I am curious about this passage, in so far as St. Paul referring to himself as a spiritual father to the Corinthians. Do any of my Catholic or Orthodox readers know if this passage plays a role in the apostolic tradition of referring to priests as “Father?”
I heard a homily today concerning the evils of gossip, and how it can undermine faith and community. With that in mind, this passage from the Letter of St. James seems appropriate:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
James spends a lot of time addressing the evil of gossip and the unbridled tongue in his letter. I rather suspect that the Church in Jerusalem (which I recall was where he was overseer) had some significant problems with that specific vice. Sadly, nothing has really changed as gossip is still finding fertile ground within the church today. Hence the importance of keeping St. James’s words in our hearts.