Saturday, July 26, 2014

The relationship of the old to the new

After ending a series of parables about the radical nature of the kingdom of God, Jesus asked His disciples, "'Do you understand all these things?' They answered, 'Yes.' And he replied, 'Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old'" (Matt 13:51-52).

I'm not convinced that those who answered "Yes" to Jesus' question understood completely. I certainly make no claim to understand completely. Hence, I am not pretending to write this from the perspective of someone who, more than 2,000 years later, claims to get what those who listened to Jesus firsthand and who responded to His call, even if only after His resurrection from the dead, did not. Silly, not arrogant, would describe someone who strikes such a pose. Of course, once you manage to grasp the strangeness, the upside down nature, of God's kingdom, at least when compared to the kingdoms of this world, all of which are passing and none of which are exceptional when judged by the standards of God's kingdom as set forth in the teaching of Jesus, even if a bit, this understanding changes how you engage the world by changing the way you see things, your understanding only grows.



Such an understanding certainly leads a person to be less satisfied with the worldly things, even those that are good and pleasurable, like a good glass of wine, a beautiful musical composition, freshly fallen snow, bright green leaves against a clear blue sky, an entrancing painting, or lovemaking with your beloved. Dissatisfaction can be the result if we cut the proclamation of God's kingdom in half, as it were. But Jesus comes to gives us hope, to encourage us to usher in God's kingdom, even as we await its total completion.

I don't write as much now as I did in my earlier years of blogging about my purpose for doing this. I still think quite a lot about the whats, whys, and wherefores of Καθολικός διάκονος. I guess my hope, even as a partially comprehending "scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven," is that I bring forth from my "storeroom both the new and the old." Both are necessary. Increasingly, especially given the troubling, even suicidal, turns our society and civilization have taken, many want to just cling to the old. I understand this desire. Some days I feel very much that way myself. On the other hand, we are increasingly unable, even unwilling, to remember. There is an on-going and deliberate effort in many quarters to eradicate memory. For many, especially the young, there is no past, there is nothing old, nothing worth holding onto, let alone worth passing along, all of this works to prevent preserving and further cultivating a sense of wonder and awe at our participation in being. Without the old, there can be nothing new.

Jesus never dismissed the old in His being something new because in His ever-newness He remains the Ancient of Days- "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty" (Rev 1:8).

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