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A Kairos moment?

Chapter 9

Good Monday morning to this week 9 of 2022

Little Jonah’s godfather telephones and Jonah picks up. “Jonah, let me speak to your Dad!” Jonah whispers softly, somewhat agitated: “I can’t.” “Why not?” “He’s busy.” “Then get your Mom for me!” Jonah, still whispering: “I can’t do that either.” “Why can’t you?” Jonah says very softly: “She is busy too. The police are here.” The godfather, increasingly worried, asks: “What is going on there? Then put one of the police officers on the phone!” “I can’t.” “Why?” “They are busy, too, and the firefighters are here.” The godfather is really agitated now: “For heaven’s sake what are they all so busy about?” Jonah: “Shh, not so loud. I’m hiding under the sofa with the telephone and they are all looking for me.”

A kairos moment for little Jonah!

The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ ” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” ( Luke 12:16-20 )

What Jesus describes here is a great deal more: a human being who is completely self-absorbed. The linguistic signal of this is that he is presented entirely through internal monologues. This man knows no one but himself. He doesn’t ask about anyone else. He presents an image of absolute egocentricity. The moment in which he sees that his fields are producing an abundant harvest could become a kairos for him, an occasion to think of others—maybe even to think of God. But his orbit is only himself.

So our parable shows us that it is not only profound self-fixation that makes it impossible to perceive the coming of the reign of God—no, even a full concentration on the necessities, plans, forces, and cares of everyday life does the same. The wheat farmer wants to avoid those forces once and for all. But he cannot escape his own orbit!

In the New Testament, kairos means “the appointed time in the purpose of God,” the time when God acts, the kairos is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Kairos used 86 times in the New Testament refers to an opportune time, a “moment” or a “season” such as “harvest time”. I refers to a specific amount of time, such as a day or an hour or as Jesus did, he makes a distinction between “His” time and “His brothers'” time. There are times in hisotry, the kairoi crisis time which create an opportunity for and indeed demand, an existential decision by the human subject, the coming of Christ as prime example or in in liberation theology of South Africa, the appointed time, the crucial time.

In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, before the Divine Liturgy begins, the Deacon exclaims to the Priest, Kairos tou poiēsai tō Kyriō. It is time [kairos] for the Lord to act’, indicating that the time of the Liturgy is an intersection with Eternity.

This past week started with a kairos moment of a very powerful, dangerous and foolish leader. Yet, this can call forth another kairos moment an “It is time” moment.

It is time for the Lord to act!

Wishing you a blessed start to this new week!

Philemon

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Remember me

Chapter 8

Good Monday morning to this week 8 of 2022

This post was on various platforms this week and was reposted quite quickly.

“How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology? No baptism, no communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no volunteerism, and no church clothes. He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray. He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and among other things, he was a thief. Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite the scoffers. Yet it was a thief who walked into heaven the same hour as Jesus simply by believing. He had nothing more to offer other than his belief that Jesus was who he said he was. No spin from brilliant theologians. No ego or arrogance. No Shiny lights, skinny jeans, or crafty words. No haze machine, donuts, or coffee in the entrance. Just a naked dying man on a cross unable to even fold his hands to pray.”

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

The thief on the cross presents us with a basic but powerful systematic theology. His words give us a synopsis of essential gospel truth. The first essential truth the repentant thief understood was that God should be feared.

The words of the thief stand in stark contrast to the blasphemous utterances coming from everyone else around him. The unrepentant thief, the Jewish rulers, and the Roman soldiers were all scornful and irreverent in their mockery of Christ. Their behavior showed no fear of God whatsoever—if anything, they were gleefully venting their unbelief.

In a situation where all the visible power on display belonged to those on the ground religious leaders, political rulers, and Roman soldiers, the thief made his appeal to the Man hanging beside him. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!” Surrounded by sneering human authorities, the thief recognized who was really in charge and cried out to the King of God’s kingdom, without demands or ultimatums.

The thief on the cross remains a theological edge case. Even dispensing (pun intended) a problem remains of covenant history. That is, his situation is so extreme and unusual that it probably should not be used to evaluate a general principle. In fact, treating the thief on the cross as a soteriological (study of salvation) role model would prove too much. Even if we ignore covenant history and make the thief a standard-setting example, why not others? While Jesus walked the Earth, he forgave the sins of many people in a wide variety of non-standard-setting circumstances. If unique situations like the thief on the cross show that faith alone is normatively sufficient for salvation, then what do those who require personal faith for salvation make of Jesus forgiving a man based on his friends’ faith?

If we ignore covenant history and make the thief on the cross (alone) a standard-setting example, he was not actually without good works. The thief exhibited all the faith and works that he could, given his situation! (good point here). The fact that his physical limitations made it impossible for him to do anything more than speak was certainly not lost on God!

Interesting just how much the thief seemed to know about Jesus that he did not learn from Jesus on the cross: e.g., that Jesus had done nothing wrong, that Jesus was Lord  and that he was going to his kingdom after he died . Note that this last truth was something Jesus taught only to his disciples. If he was a fallan away disciple, it is likely that he too would have been baptized! (Interesting point given)

Amidst all the assumptions made in this short story, one that seems safe is that had baptism or anything else been asked of the thief for salvation, he would have done it if he could. God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. 

On an forum I read a nice entry to this point:

I think of it this way: the sacraments are God’s tools, not His shackles. The sacraments are for us, not for God. They are how we know with 100% certainty that God’s grace and mercies have entered our lives. By his grace, God can save through faith alone!

Then the thief said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”

Wishing God’s grace to your life this week!

Philemon

From the lesser to the greater

Chapter 7

Good Monday Morning to this week 7 of 2022

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

This parabel is condensed so that everything fits into the one question, one whose answer is obvious:

No one would act that way!

Everyone would get up and help. Here, then, the argument is presented as indisputably obvious. And behind that argument—exactly as in the parable of the widow and the judge—lies a conclusion:

from the lesser to the greater:

If, because of the law of hospitality, people can count on the help of others, how much more may Israel and every individual in it count on God.

A guest is entitled to more than just a place to sleep. It was then, and is now, a matter of course that any guest must be served, given the best that one has, and afforded whatever aid is necessary. The same is true not only for the host but for all the host’s connections.

God will help those who belong to God when they are in need. Obviously trust in God’s help was a matter of course on the basis of the Old Testament; Jesus does not need to emphasize it.

How often the psalms beg for divine help—and how often they speak of reliance on being heard! How often they speak of trusting in being heard immediately ! Psalm 66:17 says: “I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue [for having heard my plea].” To repeat: trust in God’s help was a thing taken for granted in light of the Old Testament.

Jesus did not need to tell a parable about that.

Therefore we need to read this parable
in light of the reign of God, which Jesus proclaimed.
The inbreaking reign of God radically
intensifies what was already true in Israel:
the intimacy of trust between human beings and God.

All are now empowered to rely on God’s action
with unlimited trust,
even with an urgent immediacy.

Wishing you a great start to this new week as build your trust and rely on the promises
and action of God in your life!

Philemon

Quotes and passage from Lohfink, Gerhard. The Forty Parables of Jesus

A shipwrecked ancestry with one prayer

Chapter 6

Good Monday Morning to this week 6 of 2022

Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One Deuteronomy 6.4

Hear, O Israel, these the words of Moses, stirring up the people to attend to what he was about to say of this great and momentous article, the unity of God, The Jews oblige themselves to read twice a day, morning and evening the last letter of the first word in this verse, “Shema”, meaning “hear”.

The Bene Israel Jews of India, a shipwrecked ancestry with a rootless Identity. The history of Benjamin’s ancestors, has been disputed. Legend has it that they were shipwrecked in India, either fleeing the Assyrians in the eighth century. According to one version of the story, most of the refugees drowned, but a few swam to safety, where the local non-Jewish population welcomed them. The survivors, who lost their holy books at sea, remembered just the Shema prayer. Cut off from extra-biblical writings and Jewish customs, this community borrowed traditions from the native culture, yet kept this prayer.

Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.

The remainder of the Shema prayer is taken from three biblical sources:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When reciting the Shema during the regular morning prayer service, it is surrounded by three long blessings. The first two, which precede the Shema, thank God for creation and revelation. The third, which follows the Shema, thanks God for redemption.

Your teachings oh Lord are precious and abiding; they live forever. For our ancestors, for us, for our children, for every generation of the people Israel, for all ages from the first to the last, His teachings are true, everlasting. True it is that You are the Lord our God, even as You were the God of our ancestors. Our King and our ancestors’ King, our Redeemer and our ancestors’ Redeemer, our Creator, our victorious Stronghold.

Always a good and prayer in the morning and evening if such times with so many being or feeling shipwrecked!

You have always helped us and saved us.

Your name endures forever.

There is no God but You.

Wishing you a blessed start to this new week!

Philemon