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Author: Mojav3 Development Group

Religious Studies

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Summary:

James and John go to Jesus and tell Jesus they want him to do whatever they ask. James and John tell Jesus they want to sit at the right and left of him in glory. Jesus tells James and John that they don’t know what they are asking, and he could not grant that wish because it “is not mine to give but for those whom it has been prepared.” The other disciples became indignant at James and John’s request. Jesus then compared gentile rulers to the disciples and told them while gentile rulers “make their authority […] felt” Jesus’s followers who wished to be great would be the biggest servants. Jesus then said, “for the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

Ideas and thoughts:

Jesus question, “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

John Chrysostom (347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople comments: They did not understand what they were asking for when they were talking to him about crowns and rewards and the privilege of the first seats and honors even before the contest had begun. Christ was communicating with them on two levels when he said: “You do not know what you are asking for.” One was that they were talking about an earthly kingdom and he had said nothing about this. There had been no announcement or promise about a visible kingdom on earth. The other was that, when they sought at this time the privilege of the first seats and the honors of heaven, when they wished to be seen as more illustrious and splendid than the others, they were not asking for these things at the right time. The timing was precisely wrong. For this was not the right time for crowns or prizes. It was the time for struggles, contests, toils, sweat, wrestling rings and battles.

Augustine of Hippo comments: They were conferring with him about glory. He intended to precede loftiness with humility and, only through humility, to ready the way for loftiness itself. For, of course, even those disciples who wanted to sit, the one on his right, the other on his left, were looking to glory. They were on the lookout, but did not see by what way. In order that they might come to their homeland in due order, the Lord called them back to the narrow way. For the homeland is on high and the way to it is lowly. The homeland is life in Christ; the way is dying with Christ. The way is suffering with Christ; the goal is abiding with him eternally. Why do you seek the homeland if you are not seeking the way to it?

Theophylact of Ohrid comments: Martyrdom, He is saying, will be yours, and you will die for Truth’s sake. (For bold confession of the Truth James was beheaded in Jerusalem in 45 AD, and John was cruelly tortured in Rome and then exiled to the island of Patmos. Tr.) But to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to give. Two questions may be asked: first, has it been prepared for anyone to sit there? Second, is the Master of all unable to bestow this seat? In answer we say that no one will sit at His right or at His left. Although in many places of Scripture you hear mention of sitting upon a seat in heaven (Mt. 19:28, Lk. 13:29, Eph. 2:6, etc.), understand that this refers to great honor, not a chair. It is not Mine to give has this meaning: it is not for Me, the Just Judge, to bestow this honor as a favor, for that would not be just. Instead, this honor has been prepared for those who have contested and struggled for it. It is as if a just king had set a day for a contest of athletes, and then some of his friends come to him and say, “Give us the crowns.” The king would say, “The crowns are not mine to give; rather, a crown is prepared for that contestant who shall compete and win.” So too with you, 0 sons of Zebedee, you shall be martyrs for My sake; but if there is one who, along with martyrdom, exceeds you in every virtue, he shall precede you in honor.

History

Constitution Source Documents

The constitution separates powers amongst three arenas:

  • The federal government and state governments
  • The federal government and itself (branches within itself)
  • The federal government and individuals (bill of rights)

The Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) a source document for the Bill of Rights – Federalists agreed with the Anti-Federalists that if the Constitution was ratified, a bill of rights would be approved at the first Continental Congress.

VICES OF THE POLITICAL SYSTEM OF THE UNITED STATES, James Madison, April 1787 – the first draft of Federalist 10

Vain to say the enlightened statesman will be able to adjust these clashing interests and render them subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesman will not always be a the helm.

James Madison

Constitution was a document that allowed the federal government to act directly with citizens – Articles of Confederation was a treaty that only allowed the federal government to interact with the states.

Land disputes between states? Vermont (14th State) was contested by New York during the ratification of the Constitution

Hamilton’s view of the ideal system was more like the English system of government for stability.

Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates; every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob. – The Federalist 55

Religious Studies

10 Commandments

Exodus 20

2 I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall have no other gods before me.
4 You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you.
13 You shall not kill.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s.

Deuteronomy 5

6 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
7 You shall have none other gods before me.
8 You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
9 You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
10 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
11 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
13 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work:
14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.
15 And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
17 You shall not kill.
18 Neither shall you commit adultery.
19 Neither shall you steal.
20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.
21 Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s wife, neither shall you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Random Thoughts

Benjamin Franklin’s Speech at the Constitutional Convention

September 17, 1787, the last day of the Convention

I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said “I don’t know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that’s always in the right-Il n’y a que moi qui a toujours raison.”

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administered.

On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.-

Religious Studies

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel reading for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time is Mark chapter 10 verses 17 to 30. In this reading, a man runs up to Jesus, kneels before him, addresses him as “Good Teacher,” and asks how he might inherit eternal life. The man expresses that he has followed the commandments. Jesus responds first by stating only God is good, then further responds by “loving him” and subsequently telling the man to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow him. The man leaves sad because he had “great” possessions. Jesus told his disciples that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples then wondered, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus finally tells his disciples that with God, all things are possible. Peter reminds Jesus that the disciples have sold everything, and Jesus reassures Peter that any person who leaves behind their worldly life for the sake of God and the Gospel will be rewarded in this life and the next.

A man running and kneeling appears to be both eager and respectful of the one he is approaching and questioning. In addition, the man addresses Jesus as a “Good Teacher,” which may indicate he viewed Jesus as an authority. Finally, the man asks Jesus what he “shall do to inherit eternal life” and suggests he has followed the law since youth. The idea of an individual seemingly living a righteous life yet asking how to inherit eternal life indicates that the man felt he wasn’t doing everything right. Furthermore, his use of “inherit” shows his understanding that eternal life is not necessarily automatic. Inheritance is often assumed but by no means guaranteed.

Jesus’s first reaction to the man stating he had followed the law since youth was a loving reaction – the text says Jesus “loved him.” This love could be the result of Jesus loving everyone or because the man did follow the law during his lifetime. Although Jesus seemed to appreciate the man’s adherence to the law, he ultimately identified the man had not sold what he had and given to the poor, and the man left sad.

Of note, this story does not describe what happened to the man after. The story states the man “left sad” but does not state whether the man ultimately gave to the poor or if he followed Jesus. When Jesus explains the difficulty of a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, the disciples themselves ask, “Then who can be saved?” This is an interesting response from individuals who were not rich and were already following Jesus. Even Peter, seemingly needing reassurance, had to point out that the disciples gave up everything and were following Jesus.

Ultimately Jesus indicates that “all things are possible for God,” suggesting wealthy persons can inherit eternal life. Jesus further reassures the disciples that sacrifice for God or the Gospel will pay dividends both now and in the life to come.

The above might suggest lessened importance on adherence to the law; however, the Book of James Chapter 2 verse 14 through 18 states:

14 What use is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
17 In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Furthermore, in Mark 12 verse 31, Jesus provides the greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus loved the man who ran and knelt before him to ask about the requirement to receive an inheritance of eternal life. Works are an essential aspect of a righteous life; however, Jesus told the man to extend himself beyond laws that only affect him and live a life of virtue – a life in which he did not neglect the needs of his neighbor. The commandments Jesus listed are easy. Most people can live an entire lifetime and avoid killing, stealing, defrauding, bearing false witness while honoring their parents. It is possible Jesus was also speaking about the extended mitzvot in Jewish life; however, the text does not explicitly mention these. What Jesus tells the man is to extend himself and give to the poor. If the man loved his neighbor as himself, he would not have left sad – he would willingly share with those who needed it. If the word “rich” were replaced with “those who have excess,” it casts a wider net and might explain the disciple’s surprise and concern for the height of the bar set. Living in this way is difficult but not impossible with God’s help.

Harvard ClassicsRandom ThoughtsReligious Studies

Pascal’s Fundamentals of Religion

Interesting thoughts by Blaise Pascal  

The Christian religion then teaches men these two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of only one of these points gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer.

For it is not true that all reveals God, and it is not true that all conceals God. But it is at the same time true that He hides Himself from those who tempt Him, and that He reveals Himself to those who seek Him, because men are both unworthy and capable of God; unworthy by their corruption, capable by their original nature.