The parable that begins the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel is a familiar one to most of us. It is one of the parables our Lord not only gives to us, explaining the working of the Kingdom of Heaven, but He interprets it for us as well. He decodes the images He gives so we might have an accurate understanding of what is going on. Now, I know Jesus calls this the Parable of the Sower, but I have always thought that perhaps a better name would have been the Parable of the Soils,
Recently, Lutheran scholar John Bombaro wrote a powerful article for 1517.org here. Within, he argues that those who are justified in Christ have had their superficial and shallow identities replaced with the historical occurrence of their own baptisms and are free to love as Christ loves. Pursuits that aim to re-justify a self-image of virtue, therefore, are expressions of a Christian seeking to shackle themselves again to a law that does not fit and will not acquit. “The Christian is free from asinine, self-defined religion, of course, but also the dictates and pressures of every political, social, and ideological agenda the world has to offer.” Amen and amen.
Songs that make me swell with pride, as my chest booms with every celebratory explosion in the sky. Passionate speeches and heart wrenching memories pour out of every red-blooded American. Love and brotherhood with our fellow citizen, that was by random chance born on this side of the globe. Admiration and appreciation for the soil and air we breathe on this particular continent. Defended, guarded, even pressed out beyond our borders, we join hands and voices to let our freedom ring around the world.
While I really think that the United States of America holds the best possibility for a good life on the globe, I’m afraid we are not impenetrable. It’s a fine idea and the layout of checks and balances, Bill of Rights, and distribution of power seems just perfect. But, you see, human beings are not good. So no matter how well we design a government or society, it eventually will fall apart. It’s not because the system isn’t great on paper. It’s because people generally are not only evil, but also not too bright.
I wondered: how do you get a word that means both the place from where something is mined—and the thing that is mined—as well as the prey that is pursued? Indeed, the word “quarry” has a dual etymology. The latter meaning is from the Latin word (via Anglo-French and Middle English) for the skin on which the entrails of an animal were left for the hounds that pursued it. The former meaning comes from the Latin (again by way of French and Middle English) for hewn (square) stone. Two different Middle English words converging in modern English, spelled the same.
Day is over. Night sometimes comes quickly. Is the short quiet dusk that scares me the most. We know it must come, we watch the sun sinking minute by minute, second by second. Breathing in the cool air of the evening, enjoying the rest descending from the heavens, admiring the vibrant colors of the closing day.
For some reason, whenever I hear the term “circumcision party”, I picture the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice and Wonderland. I’m not completely sure why. Perhaps it’s the overall absurdity of each statement that is somehow laced with just enough reason to make it somewhat comprehendible. Reason turned on its head, but reason nonetheless.
The words of our Lord found in the 10th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel are stark and difficult words to hear. They are marked by a raw honesty about the faith, about discipleship, about what it means to be called a Christian. There is a foreboding darkness hanging over Jesus’ words in this section. It is not all sunshine and rainbows or a prosperity preacher’s Pollyanna dreams.
“A fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished.”
It’s an absurd premise: a tennis coach kidnaps someone to train with his player in preparation for the French open, which isn’t going to happen. They practice and train in the middle of nowhere: on sand, in swampland, on a narrow strip of grass. Oh, and they don’t have any tennis balls, or strings in their racquets, or real nets. And they have to keep moving from place to place because there is an unknown threat from an unknown war.