Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do These Things, But Do Not Neglect The Others.

Saint Paul’s first letter to the people of Thessalonica consists of two major sections. Readings from the first section (1 Thes 1:2 – 3:13) would have been read yesterday, if it had not been the Feast of Saint Bartholomew. It was an expression of thanks to the people of Thessalonica for responding so fully to the Word of God and the preaching of Paul, Silas and Timothy that they became models for the believers in other parts of the eastern Mediterranean basin.

Today, the Christians are assured that the visit of Paul and his companions, Silas and Timothy, had been fruitful, and had achieved the purpose God had for it. Many men and women have come to believe the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul remind the Thessalonians that when they had first arrived in Philippi, the principal city of Macedonia, Paul and Silas had been badly mistreated. The leaders of the city had them whipped in the public square and thrown into prison, without even verifying whether the charges against them were true or false. A few days later, they were in Thessalonica, and in spite of the way they had been treated previously, they had the courage to speak boldly and confidently. They knew that God had sent them to tell the people what Jesus Christ had done, and gave them the courage to do it.

Paul, Silas and Timothy never tried to achieve their goals by telling people what they wanted to hear, much less to tell them untruths. Their sole purpose was to do what God had sent them to do: make known the good news of Jesus. It was not important to them how the Thessalonians received their message, or what the people thought of them as persons. Their aim was to please God, and his approval alone was important to them.

Paul and his companions never tried to profit from their visit to Thessalonica. Instead, they had done all they could on behalf of the Thessalonians. They were as gentle – in a simile that seems strange, considering the source – as a nursing mother caring for her children. They have come to share the good news of Jesus, but they cannot help but share themselves as well. The people of Thessalonica had become so beloved to them that they were willing to give their lives for the sake of the new Christians.

+++ +++ +++ +++

In today’s gospel, (Matthew 12:23-26) Jesus addresses the religious leaders of Israel: the scribes and teachers of the law. They did not own land, and the other members of the people were obliged by Mosaic Law to provide for them, one tenth of all the grain, oil and wine, they produced. The Pharisees also gave a tithe from the small plants in their gardens, mint, dill, cumin and other herbs and spices some that gave extra flavor to food, some that were used as “natural remedies”. Jesus commended them for what they did, but chided them for what they ignored. He creates an interesting word-picture: they strain out gnats, but swallow camels.
The Pharisees and scribes avoid everything that they consider “unclean”. Jesus chides them for being diligent about cleansing the outside of cups and dishes, but ignoring the contents. Blind Pharisee: clean the inside, and the outside will also be clean – not only of the cups and dishes, but of yourself!

1 comment:

Mary333 said...

This is a good one. I always tell my daughter [she is six] that it is the inside that matters. It is never too young to teach them these things. She has a childrens bible and a lot of books about saints.