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Friday, September 17, 2010

Bible and Catechism in a year: Day 6

Genesis 6:9-7:24

Noah.  Flood.  'nuff said?  Perhaps.  More tomorrow when we finish the flood story.

Psalm 6

This one is a bit of a downer.  Lamenting and begging for mercy.  Perhaps we don't do this enough.

Matthew 5:1-20

Yesterday I sort of left off the part where Jesus begins calling disciples.  It's important...he goes after fishermen first. 

Today we begin the sermon on the mount.  Jesus begins with the beatitudes.  We are reminded that our suffering on this earth is worthwhile, and that those things which are not often valued by the world are indeed valued by God. 

The he moves on to salt and light.  Salt of the earth.  Light of the world.  These are important images.  Light of the world is a bit easier to grasp than salt of the earth, though.  Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so.  There is a lot of disagreement as to what exactly Jesus is trying to tell us about being the salt of the earth. 

As a chemical engineer, first thing that comes to my mind is that salt doesn't lose it's saltiness.  Assuming our Lord is speaking of sodium chloride...well, even old salt is salty.  So this is a mysterious saying. 

But salt is used for so many things...bringing out flavor, preserving foods, purifying things, etc.  So we can see how we are to do these things for the world...

Salt was also rather valuable in the ancient world, and often was cut with other substances by unscrupulous merchants.  Perhaps we are talking about the case where salt mixed with, say, white sand, gets wet, and the salt dissolves, and we are left with the would have no's a stretch, but a possibility, I suppose.

Some other scholars suggest that Jesus is using wordplay here.  Apparently, in Aramaic, there is a word which can mean either "to lose taste" or "to become foolish."  If we view salt as a metaphor for wisdom (as some rabbinic literature apparently did), then this might make sense.  For if one is given wisdom and does not follow it (becomes foolish), the wisdom given that person is doing them no benefit, and may as well be "thrown out and trodden under foot by men..."

That makes a lot of sense, actually.

Finally, we have Jesus saying that he has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  I'm sure this concept will come up more in the future...

Catechism 31-38

We know that we are meant for God.  But how do we seek God and how do we know Him?  Firstly, we find that the intellect, even so darkened by the fall, certainly points us to God's existence.  We can figure out a lot about God just by looking at the world and the human person.  The world is so well put together (and by 'the world' I mean, really, 'the universe') that it suggests design.  That we find can find beauty in creation is a dead giveaway that this did not all just pop into existence.  The world is not strictly utilitarian in nature, as though made by a mere laborer, but contains the artistry of a master craftsman.  We can observe not just utility, but beauty as well.  Then when we look at the human person (who is created in God's image), we certainly see a great deal of evidence.  That we have morals (even if we don't agree on them), that we can empathize, that we seek companionship, and seek God...these things again point to some higher purpose.  Somehow, we sense the infinite nature of our very souls, despite our finite grasp of the world.

But to truly know God, we need some help.  And since God wants us to know Him, He gives us some help in the form of revelation.  Because we are made to seek him, we welcome this, for it is indeed only by knowing God that we can better understand our purpose on this world and make our way to the next.

Tomorrow's readings:

Genesis 8-9
Psalm 7
Matthew 5:21-48
Catechism 39-49

Until tomorrow, God Bless!

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