Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Today's Readings

Today's readings (Jgs 6:11-24a, Mt 19:23-30) surprised me.

In the OT reading, Gideon is threshing his grain in the basement (the worst possible of places) because he wants to keep out of sight from Israel's oppressor-of-the-day (because they will come and take his grain away?). An angel appears to Gideon and declares he will be the military leader who will take back Israel's freedom.

The (familiar) Gospel reading, Jesus declares the impossibility of a "rich man" entering the Kingdom of Heaven, likening it to a camel passing through the eye of a needle. He elaborates further, talking about a great, eschatological reversal, in which the ostensible disorder and injustice will be resolved.

Why these two readings together? What could the connection be?

A connection: What the Gospel speaks of as "rich" and "poor" are what the book of Judges "speaks" of as oppressor and oppressed. Of course, Judges doesn't actually "speak" of this dichotomy, it shows it in the situation in which we find Israel under the boot-heel of the Midians, "poor" in security and freedom.

Both passages shed some light on how "poverty" precede God's liberation. In the first case, the very immanent, physical, concrete liberation from political oppression. In the second case, what I would call an even more concrete liberation, the liberation from oppression of one's soul by sin and death. In the Gospel, Jesus reinforces the necessity of this "poverty" that precedes wealth, and in other places affirms the need for us to become "poor" in order to enter into His abundant life.

What does this selection reveal to us about the Word of God as expressed in the Sacred Scriptures?

I think this selection illustrates the Bible's incredible interconnectedness and context-sensitivity. Despite the fact that it's actually a small library of documents authored centuries apart in three different languages and of diverse genres, it is an "echo chamber" on some level deeper than literal, declarative statements. It's these "harmonics" that make the Bible truly captivating.

I would have never seen what I had just seen in the Gideon story if I had not followed it with this particular Gospel reading. My reading was radically altered and improved by bringing these two selections together. And if I hadn't brought the Gospel to the Gideon story, I would have brought something else. I actually did this, because I read the Gideon story first, and then adjusted my interpretation with the Gospel.

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