July 31, 2015

Matthew 7.6

Do not give dogs what is holy;
and do not throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot
and turn to attack you.

Dogs and swine are unclean animals; Romans and pagans are uncircumcized, inherently unclean human beings. This saying does not seem at all to stem from a sense of universal brotherhood.

It could be read with a different perspective, of course. Readers of Lord Dunsany will remember that the Witch who lives at the edge of the world keeps a herd of pigs; and employs poets to keep them fed. What do the poets feed them? -- Pearls, of course. Do the pigs like their pearls? -- Someone asks. "Not particularly." So this could be an example of treating people as they would like.

Is that Jesus' meaning here? It seems unlikely; to this extent he talks like a typical Israelite of his day; and outreach to the goyim does not seem to become a priority of his movement until after his death.

His constituency is the oppressed poor of Israel; and their oppressors are Romans and their local clients. When he is eventually executed, it is done by the Roman authorities on the recommendation of the High Priest and his party, people who support and benefit from Roman rule, at the expense of the peasantry who make up the vast majority of his nation.

Although Jesus is portrayed elsewhere in the gospels as enjoying friendly relations with sympathetic foreigners, that may not be at all what he expected at the beginning of his career.

July 23, 2015

Matthew 7.1-5

Judge not, that you not be judged.

For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged; and the measure you give will be the measure you get.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye.

Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when there is the log in your own eye.

[If you really value accurate sight] first take the log out of your own eye; and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.


I once met a man who explained that this was Jesus' answer to the curse on Adam's progeny -- to counter 'The Knowledge of Good and Evil' by renouncing the human tendency to find evil in people's doings, to condemn people for what they do wrong, mistakenly assuming that we know their intentions and reasons when they inconvenience us and have a right to make them suffer for that...

July 17, 2015

Matthew 6.25 ->

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And which of you, by being anxious, can add one cubit to his span of life?

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin; yet, I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, oh men of little faith?

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the goyim do all these things; and your Father knows you need them all.

But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be yours as well.

Do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will be anxious about itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.

July 06, 2015

Matthew 6.24

No one can serve two masters; for either he will neglect the one and love the other; or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and Mammon.


This is clear enough; but you'd need to be pretty poor to actually like it!

I don't think it's saying that you need to starve in a hovel to love God, or that starving in a hovel would do the job, either. It can't be something one "balances," because there's no natural balance point. On another hand, God probably doesn't to object to people having 'enough,' whatever that might be. But one has to watch that step between 'need' and 'want'; it can be a big one!

July 03, 2015

Matthew 6.22-23

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.

If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!


That is: If the light in you could be darkness, how dark that would make things!