A more scattered series of quotes and passages for today’s post. The first few verses come from the Book of Sirach:
6 Do not get angry with your neighbor for every injury,
and do not resort to acts of insolence.
7 Arrogance is hateful to the Lord and to mortals,
and injustice is outrageous to both.
8 Sovereignty passes from nation to nation
on account of injustice and insolence and wealth.
Reading this passage produced an eerie feeling for me. What we are seeing in the West now is the replacement of the existing culture with other ones. That is much akin to a transfer of sovereignty. And it comes at the same times as the West has turned its back on God. This is no coincidence. The West has become puffed with pride, and injustice is the norm. It is only to be expected that the West meet such a fate.
I found this section interesting:
When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots, an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. 2 Before you engage in battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the troops, 3 and shall say to them: “Hear, O Israel! Today you are drawing near to do battle against your enemies. Do not lose heart, or be afraid, or panic, or be in dread of them; 4 for it is the Lord your God who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you victory.” 5 Then the officials shall address the troops, saying, “Has anyone built a new house but not dedicated it? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another dedicate it. 6 Has anyone planted a vineyard but not yet enjoyed its fruit? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another be first to enjoy its fruit. 7 Has anyone become engaged to a woman but not yet married her? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another marry her.” 8 The officials shall continue to address the troops, saying, “Is anyone afraid or disheartened? He should go back to his house, or he might cause the heart of his comrades to melt like his own.” 9 When the officials have finished addressing the troops, then the commanders shall take charge of them.
This seems to be a practical bit of advice here- the goal is to exclude those who will be reluctant in battle. At the same time, there also seems to be a cultural and theological component. Ancient Israel understood (or at least claimed to understand) the importance of a firm foundation for actions. All of these were foundational, they tied to the necessity of one who began something also being the one to finish it. At least, that is what I am picking up here. Perhaps those who knowledge of the OT is better can clarify this for me.
The story of Simon from Acts is next:
9 Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! 21 You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” 24 Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.”
This passages connects well with these words of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke:
36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
Simon, who had heard the Good News, had not truly prepared himself to hold onto it. He was still the old person from before- he had not cast aside his old life and old way of thinking. He was still an old wineskin. And when the new wine, the New Covenant was introduced to him, that wineskin burst because he was not ready to hold it. Receiving the Word is easy, but holding onto it is something else. The only way we can do so is if we throw away our old lives, which represent the old wineskins from the parable. St. Paul explained it in his second letter to the Corinthians:
17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Our old selves are one with the world. If we wish to be one with God, those old selves must be discarded. It isn’t easy to let go of our past selves, but it is necessary. And it is possible, for all things are possible with God.