Sunday, August 25, 2019

As On Earth, Before We Get To Heaven

The man had asked succinctly,  "Will only a few be saved?" but Jesus' answer was quite long. If we focus merely on the questioner, and if we hear his question with just with our 21st century ears, we may hear only: "Are many going to heaven when they die?" But Jesus' full response, especially the second half of it which invokes our reading from Isaiah 66 today, points on to a broader concept. Jesus' answer is about the kingdom of God, which is recognizable throughout the synoptic Gospels as meaning the Church (hence the banquet, house, and gate images in this passage). Now the Church (i.e. the kingdom) definitely has a part that dwells beyond this world with God, but we must not collapse "the kingdom" into just that part. And Jesus' discussion of the many gentile nations being brought into the family (the "last made first") and being allowed even to serve at the altar in the Temple (Isa 66:21) is clearly talking about an earthly family first, as the Holy Spirit reverses the disaster of Babel, beginning at Pentecost.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

...With Which I Must Be Baptized...

baptism > plunge in > passion/death > cross > sign of contradiction > division not peace > family confrontations


Monday, August 12, 2019

Abraham Reasoned...

Is there any variant of the story of Abraham and Isaac that doesn't make God look bad and Abraham complicit in evil? If no, what does that mean for us? If yes, what might that mean for Adam and Jesus? The Letter to the Hebrews chapter 11 has some thoughts.

Also, regarding this homily:

1) Sorry about the crazy whistle I made at 0:05. That was straight up just my teeth and tongue positioned weirdly when trying to say "So".

2) About 10 seconds from the end I made the error of saying Abraham's faith "inspired" Jesus. I don't think that is accurate. Better to say Jesus' faith was in the same line as Abraham, which I basically did right after. #HeresyAutocorrect

3) I'll try to get the text of the homily up eventually.

4) There was no time for it in the homily, but the passages I cited from Hebrews 11 are one of the best places to argue that either St. Paul was the Letter's author or at least the author is very familiar with Paul's arguments in Romans chapter 4:16-21.

As it is written: “I have made you [Abraham] a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 
Paul in Romans never says the clinching line about Abraham reasoning that God could even raise a dead Isaac, but once you've read Hebrews 11 it's hard to not read both Isaac's birth and his sacrifice into this section of Romans. Especially because Paul immediately seems to do some midrash himself by suggesting that "his faith was credited to him as righteousness" wasn't so much about Abraham believing when he was told about the number of descendants/stars right there in Genesis 15 itself, but more of his perseverance in waiting for Isaac after that. And then then Paul immediately ties that faith directly to those who believe God raised Jesus from the dead:
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:20-25)