Tonight I went to the Heorot for the first time since July when we went to First Thursdays, the local art gallery openings, and sat outside with Tobias the bank robber. Tobias sort of looked like a cross between Shane Claiborne and David Crowder but without the kind eyes. I think prison for eight years will take away someone’s kind eyes if he had them to begin with. Tonight I had a Bell’s Porter that tasted skunked, a cheese pizza that was pretty salty, and a hacking cough when I left. Yep, it was the Heorot.
I am hoping that the smoke will leave my lungs by tomorrow morning. I am excited about this run because it’s the first one outside since last Saturday’s race in Indy. I am going to run this route, and I am hoping to spend at least part of the time meditating on the parts of the Sermon on the Mount (SotM) I have memorized so far.
Today’s section is Matthew 5: 21-26: You have heard that it was said long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you, anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” is answerable to the Sanhedrin, but anyone who says, “You fool,” will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there and go be reconciled to your brother; then come offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you may not get out until you have paid the last penny.
This particular passage reminds me of the way we should treat each other, and in a fanciful way it reminds me of two kids getting sent to the principal’s office. To begin with, it isn’t really about murder in the physical sense; it’s more about murdering the soul of the other person. When we are angry with (or I would add jealous of) someone, our actions can be more vicious than murder and they can farther reaching consequences.What we say about other people and to other people carries tremendous power. I know I have been both the power wielder, saying horrible things about others, but I have also been the recipient of the sharply cut wounds inflicted by the tongues of others. I hope (and I am trying to make it so) that recently I have been not so much of the former.
I think Jesus recognizes that our posturing toward our fellow humans is essential in how we view God. If we are constantly angry at, jealous of, our brothers and sisters, how can we expect to devote ourselves to God? How do we expect to see or receive the kingdom of God? Or better yet, how can we focus our energy on being positive and creating peace, mercy, righteousness, and all those other good things that Jesus talks about in the beginning of this sermon if we are harboring all of that anger and hate in our hearts?
I think this sections is, for me, one of the most challenging sections of the SotM because it’s difficult for me to go to people, tell them how I have wronged them, and then ask for forgiveness. I think this is hard for all of us. And, what do I do if I extend this plea and it returns empty? That’s sticking point of this passage: Jesus doesn’t say go ask forgiveness; he says go and be reconciled. Reconciliation requires work from both sides. If it doesn’t work, are we unable to offer our sacrifices because we cannot rightfully do it with a clean conscience?
The second part of this passage, as I said above, reminds me of two kids getting sent to the principal’s office for fighting: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way.” Doesn’t this just make you think of when you were little and you got in trouble. Of course, you knew if made up before you got to the office, the punishment would be much less severe. At least you thought so. At the very least, you had some kind of in with the adults because you had tried to work things out. However, Jesus considers that if you can’t make up on your own, your punishment is just going to get more and more severe: judge to officer, officer to prison, prison to you won’t get out until you have paid the last penny. If you just would have tried to work it out ahead of time, you might not have even ended up in jail, but now you’re stuck there until all the debt is paid.
Basically, what I am trying to say with all of this is that Jesus is continuing the ideas from the earlier sections: there should be something different about the kingdom of God, you should be something different from the rest of the world, and this Jesus thing is a bit more difficult than some cute platitudes. Being part of the kingdom of God is not a walk in the park. It isn’t drudgery; look at all the promises offered in the Beatitudes. But it isn’t all sunshine and roses either. It’s hard work to be a child of God.
Anyway, here is what I have memorized so far:
Seeing the crowd, Jesus sat down on the mountainside. Calling his disciples to him, he began to teach them saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when you are persecuted, insulted, and people falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven for they did the same thing to the prophets before you. You are the salt of the world. If the salt loses its saltiness, what is it good for? It is good for nothing and should be thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Do you light a candle to put it under a bowl? Instead you light it and put it on the table so its light can be shared by everyone in the house. Let your light so shine before others so they can see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven. You have heard it was said, Do not murder, and anyone who murders is subject to judgment, but I say anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin, but anyone who says to his brother, You fool, is in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember your brother is angry with you, leave your gift there and be reconciled with your brother; then return and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it with you while you are on your way or he may offer you up to the judge, the judge may turn you over to the officers, and the officers will throw you in prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid every penny.
I am thankful for little kids in funny President’s costumes.
Food: banana, juice, cookies, chocolate milk, almonds and M&Ms, grapefruit, clementine, apple, beer, appetizers, cheese pizza
Exercise: walked to school, walked from RB to Burris, walked from RB to Scotty’s, walked dogs 2 miles