Category Archives: Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #135

Today’s post is inspired by this recent post over at Zippy’s. A major point of discussion in the comments is Christian (in that particular context Catholic Christian) heroism. I want to move this post out of a narrow Catholic context into one that all Christians can address. A question is necessary: are we, as Christians, called to heroism? Lets look at some Scripture:

23 When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves in array,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, 30 while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

(Acts 4:23-31)

That whole chapter features boldness, which I think is a heroic quality.

I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as did my fathers, when I remember you constantly in my prayers. As I remember your tears, I long night and day to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo′is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, 10 and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

(2 Timothy 3-14)

These are just a couple of passages, but to me it seems like we as Christians are called to boldness and endure great challenges. Seems an awful lot like heroism to me. However, I could be wrong. So I ask my readers to offer their thoughts. And if they have passages from Scripture which they think would fit (or counter the above), feel free to mention them below.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #134

So I guess there was something of a debate over at Dalrock because of this post. Scott wrote his own thoughts about it over here. I’ve got a few thoughts of my own, but they are tied to scripture- hence why they are in this post. Reading through Dalrock’s post, I immediately saw the apparent “shallowness” of Mrs. Stone’s approach. At the same time, I was reminded of this:

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence; for the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.

(Luke 16:1-9)

I also got to thinking of this passage from First Timothy:

Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

(1 Timothy 1:8-11)

The way I look at it is this:

Those who are truly good – or at least aspiring towards it- won’t need the kind of admonishment that Heidi provides. They will want to honor their vows, they will want to be loyal and faithful, etc. However, not everyone is like that. Some wives will not be like that- either because they never truly were, or because they are going through a time of personal weakness. Whatever the cause, they are not necessarily inclined to seek righteousness at that point. However, those who weak in that way might be persuaded by Heidi. She will appeal to their lesser nature- their cunning. And that is something that we as Christians should understand, and acknowledge as perhaps helpful. After all, that is the point of the first passage above- cunning has its use. And we as Christians should recognize it. Even if “lowly” methods are what is needed at the time, we can always appeal to the higher nature later.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #133

Its has been a few months since I’ve written one of these posts, and so this continuation is long past overdue. I’ve selected two passages from the Old Testament today, as part of a compare/contrast method. Some recent discussions I’ve had about female moral agency and the role of wives led me to choose these two passages, for each showcases a particular kind of woman. To be specific, we have an example of a righteous woman and an unrighteous woman. We start with the righteous woman (although she came later in time):

One day Eli′sha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”

11 One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there. 12 And he said to Geha′zi his servant, “Call this Shu′nammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.” 14 And he said, “What then is to be done for her?” Geha′zi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 And he said, “At this season, when the time comes round, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your maidservant.” 17 But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Eli′sha had said to her.

18 When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 And when he had lifted him, and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband, and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the asses, that I may quickly go to the man of God, and come back again.” 23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.” She said, “It will be well.” 24 Then she saddled the ass, and she said to her servant, “Urge the beast on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

(2 Kings 4:8-25)

Next we move to a very unrighteous woman indeed:

Now Naboth the Jezre′elite had a vineyard in Jezre′el, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samar′ia. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezre′elite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.

But Jez′ebel his wife came to him, and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezre′elite, and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it’; and he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jez′ebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezre′elite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people; 10 and set two[a] base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” 11 And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jez′ebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 13 And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent to Jez′ebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

15 As soon as Jez′ebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jez′ebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezre′elite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezre′elite, to take possession of it.

(1 Kings 21: 1-16)

There are many things to note in these two passages. The first and most obvious is of course their behavior: the Shunammite woman is righteous and Jezebel is clearly not.

But also look at the role of the men in the passage. The Shunammite woman’s husband persuaded her husband into whatever course of action was taken. She persuaded him to set aside a room for the prophet, and for her to seek him out after their son’s untimely death. Compare that to Ahad- he is passive and basically lets Jezebel do all the hard (and depraved work). Then he moves in afterwards to benefit from her misdeeds.

One wife offers counsel and advice, the other essentially takes headship away from her husband. Not an accident, that. I think every married Christian should ask themselves which role they would play in this story. There is a lot to be learned from that kind of self-reflection.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #132

Two passages from St. Paul’s epistles stood out to me in the last week, and I wanted to share them with you. The first is from the letter to the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

10 Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:6-10)

One thing about reading St. Paul’s letters is we know there have been other letters sent, often to him, but sometimes from him. So there is this sense of catching part of a conversation or dialogue. Yet, while we might like to know the full context, we are still hearing the authoritative (and thus important) part of that conversation.

Here we can see St. Paul lamenting several things. What I read from this is as follows:

  • The Galatians are very quickly abandoning the true faith
  • They are ditching the truth for the sake of another gospel
  • Someone else is treading to lead them astray
  • Anyone who tries to lead you from the truth is automatically anathema
  • The Galatians are apparently doing this to please men

From the later context of the letter we can see what is going on: there has been a wave of “Judaizers” coming to the Church in Galatia who are trying to insist that Gentile converts to Christianity adopt completely the Mosaic law. This is leading the Church in Galatia astray- they are losing sight of the important of faith and think that following the works of the Mosaic law is all they need to be saved. And so St. Paul sent his letter to correct this.

What intrigues me is the last part, because it seems the most important to us today. The Galatians were evidently doing this in order to please other human beings (the Judaizers and presumably other Jews). While the particular currents of heresy might ebb and flow throughout history, the desire to please human beings remains. And now, just as then, it can lead us astray. Thus, the central lesson of this passage is to remind us that we must never forsake the truth for the sake of popularity.

The second passage that interests me is from the Second Letter to the Corinthians:

We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedo′nia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. Accordingly we have urged Titus that as he had already made a beginning, he should also complete among you this gracious work. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us—see that you excel in this gracious work also.

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my advice: it is best for you now to complete what a year ago you began not only to do but to desire, 11 so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not. 13 I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, 14 but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

(2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

Generosity must come from the heart. It can never be ordered or compelled. Taxation is never generosity, no matter how the money is spent. It can never be charity, for charity is love, and again, love comes from the heart. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18). We pay taxes out of fear, so they cannot meet that requirement.

St. Paul understood this, and so his invitation to the Corinthians to be generous was itself an act of love. He was giving them an opportunity to perfect themselves in their faith journey.

 

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #131

It has been over a month since I’ve written any of these posts. Not sure where the time went. Anyways, time to correct that- especially since today is Pentecost. Lately I have been going through the Letter to the Romans. This section caught my interest earlier today:

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Romans 5:15-21)

Given how much terrible darkness came about as a result of the fall, it is always reassuring to be reminded that even greater things have come about from the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. God saved the best for last. In the spirit of which (sorry, couldn’t help it), I thought this passage was appropriate:

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

(John 2:1-11)

One of the areas where I am weak is in hope. It is something which I sometimes (too often, really) lose sight of. I need passages like these to remind myself that greater things are to come, especially at the end of the Age.

And of course, since today is Pentecost, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Par′thians and Medes and E′lamites and residents of Mesopota′mia, Judea and Cappado′cia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phryg′ia and Pamphyl′ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre′ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

(Acts 2:1-11)

I will leave with this Byzantine prayer which speaks far better than I ever could:

O Holy Spirit
Mighty Defender
To all who love You
Comfort You give.
Everywhere present
Fountain of Virtues
Without Your kindness
No one could live.

O Holy Spirit
Treasury of Blessings
Come, as was promised
Live-giving Flame
Come, dwell within us
Quicken our cool hearts
Strengthen our purpose
To praise Your Name.

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #130

Today is Thomas Sunday. So named because of the following passage from the Gospel of John:

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

(John 20: 24-29)

Here is what St. John Chrysostom had to say about this particular passage:

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said, Except I shall see in His hands —I will not believe.

1. As to believe carelessly and in a random way, comes of an over-easy temper; so to be beyond measure curious and meddlesome, marks a most gross understanding. On this account Thomas is held to blame. For he believed not the Apostles when they said, We have seen the Lord; not so much mistrusting them, as deeming the thing to be impossible, that is to say, the resurrection from the dead. Since he says not, I do not believe you, but, Except I put my hand— I do not believe. But how was it, that when all were collected together, he alone was absent? Probably after the dispersion which had lately taken place, he had not returned even then. But do thou, when you see the unbelief of the disciple, consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself with His wounds, and comes in order to save even the one, though he was grosser than the rest; on which account indeed he sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would not even trust his eyes. For he said not, Except I see, but, Except I handle, he says, lest what he saw might somehow be an apparition. Yet the disciples who told him these things, were at the time worthy of credit, and so was He that promised; yet, since he desired more, Christ did not deprive him even of this.

And why does He not appear to him straightway, instead of after eight days? John 20:26 In order that being in the mean time continually instructed by the disciples, and hearing the same thing, he might be inflamed to more eager desire, and be more ready to believe for the future. But whence knew he that His side had been opened? From having heard it from the disciples. How then did he believe partly, and partly not believe? Because this thing was very strange and wonderful. But observe, I pray you, the truthfulness of the disciples, how they hide no faults, either their own or others’, but record them with great veracity.

Jesus again presents himself to them, and waits not to be requested by Thomas, nor to hear any such thing, but before he had spoken, Himself prevented him, and fulfilled his desire; showing that even when he spoke those words to the disciples, He was present. For He used the same words, and in a manner conveying a sharp rebuke, and instruction for the future. For having said,

Reach hither your finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither your hand, and thrust it into My side; He added,

And be not faithless, but believing.

Do you see that his doubt proceeded from unbelief? But it was before he had received the Spirit; after that, it was no longer so, but, for the future, they were perfected.

And not in this way only did Jesus rebuke him, but also by what follows; for when he, being fully satisfied, breathed again, and cried aloud,

My Lord, and my God, He says,
Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.

For this is of faith, to receive things not seen; since, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 And here He pronounces blessed not the disciples only, but those also who after them should believe. Yet, says some one, the disciples saw and believed. Yes, but they sought nothing of the kind, but from the proof of the napkins, they straightway received the word concerning the Resurrection, and before they saw the body, exhibited all faith. When therefore any one in the present day say, I would that I had lived in those times, and had seen Christ working miracles, let them reflect, that, Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.

It is worth enquiring, how an incorruptible body showed the prints of the nails, and was tangible by a mortal hand. But be not thou disturbed; what took place was a matter of condescension. For that which was so subtle and light as to enter in when the doors were shut, was free from all density ; but this marvel was shown, that the Resurrection might be believed, and that men might know that it was the Crucified One Himself, and that another rose not in His stead. On this account He arose bearing the signs of the Cross, and on this account He eats. At least the Apostles everywhere made this a sign of the Resurrection, saying, We, who ate and drank with Him.Acts 10:41 As therefore when we see Him walking on the waves before the Crucifixion, we do not say, that that body is of a different nature, but of our own; so after the Resurrection, when we see Him with the prints of the nails, we will no more say, that he is therefore corruptible. For He exhibited these appearances on account of the disciple.

(Source)

I end the post with this passage from Ecclesiastes, along with some thoughts:

12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be numbered.

16 I said to myself, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

(Ecclesiastes 1: 12-18)

Reading this passage, the truth of it leapt off the page. There are plenty of times in my life when I wish I wasn’t nearly so smart as I am. I imagine that stupidity would make me much happier with my life. I would be blind to most of what was going on around me, and accordingly would be not nearly as troubled as I am. Anyone else ever have similar thoughts?

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #129

In light of last week’s post, and the fact that this is Lent, we start today’s post off with another passage from the Book of Sirach:

Do not desire a multitude of useless children,
    nor rejoice in ungodly sons.
If they multiply, do not rejoice in them,
    unless the fear of the Lord is in them.
Do not trust in their survival,
    and do not rely on their multitude;
for one is better than a thousand,
    and to die childless is better than to have ungodly children.
For through one man of understanding a city will be filled with people,
    but through a tribe of lawless men it will be made desolate.
Many such things my eye has seen,
    and my ear has heard things more striking than these.

In an assembly of sinners a fire will be kindled,
    and in a disobedient nation wrath was kindled.
He was not propitiated for the ancient giants
    who revolted in their might.
He did not spare the neighbors of Lot,
    whom he loathed on account of their insolence.
He showed no pity for a nation devoted to destruction,
    for those destroyed in their sins;
10 nor for the six hundred thousand men on foot,
    who rebelliously assembled in their stubbornness.
11 Even if there is only one stiff-necked person,
    it will be a wonder if he remains unpunished.
For mercy and wrath are with the Lord;
    he is mighty to forgive, and he pours out wrath.
12 As great as his mercy, so great is also his reproof;
    he judges a man according to his deeds.
13 The sinner will not escape with his plunder,
    and the patience of the godly will not be frustrated.
14 He will make room for every act of mercy;
    every one will receive in accordance with his deeds.

(Sirach 16:1-14)

Last week the topic of children as a liability was raised. It is clear that Ben Sira regarded children as something that could be either a blessing or a curse. If they turn out well, then they are a blessing of the greatest nature. But if they turn out wicked- well, you better watch out. God find no joy or happiness in wicked offspring.  In fact, he makes clear through the Prophet Malachi what he wants:

 Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life?And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth.

(Malachi 2:15)

So parents have a special responsibility that they face- raising children in righteousness. As much as I want to, and feel called to marry and have children, I can appreciate the fact that my responsibilities are that much lighter without either.

St. Paul agrees that this responsibility exists, and in his first Letter to Timothy explains that it is part of the process of sanctification for mothers:

15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

(1 Timothy 2:15)

St. John Chrysostom explains in his homily concerning 1 Timothy 2 that this applies to fathers and mothers alike:

Hear this, you fathers and mothers, that your bringing up of children shall not lose its reward. This also he says, as he proceeds, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children.1 Timothy 5:10 Among other commendations he reckons this one, for it is no light praise to devote to God those children which are given them of God. For if the basis, the foundation which they lay be good, great will be their reward; as great, if they neglect it, will be their punishment. It was on account of his children that Eli perished. For he ought to have admonished them, and indeed he did admonish them, but not as he ought; but from his unwillingness to give them pain he destroyed both himself and them. Hear this, you fathers, bring your children up with great care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Children are indeed a blessing. But like all the blessing of God, they place a responsibility upon us to use them rightly. Failing to do so brings us not further blessing, but condemnation. Our Lord and Savior explained it thus:

14 “For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’

(Matthew 25:14-30)

This last parable is one that I try to keep at heart at all times. God has given me much, and expects much from me. We are called to be fruitful in our lives, not barren like the Fig tree. At least, not unless we want to end up like it.

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