This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Potential for a dangerous misinterpretation

Before sunrise
He also told them, "Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, 
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given; 
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."  Mark 4:24-25
These less than direct sayings of Jesus are repeated in the gospels of Luke and Matthew.  It is therefore pretty clear that the earliest Christian communities took them as authentic sayings of Jesus the Christ.  Our modern ears are tempted to pass over these sayings without giving them much attention.  They seem to be saying that the rich get richer which strikes us as inconsistent with the overall message of Jesus.  And, it is.  So what is going on here?

Perhaps as 21st century Americans, we are primed to think that we are masters of our fate.  To our ears, it makes perfect sense to think that what we do determines what the Divine One does.  Whatever measure we use is the measure that the Divine One uses.  The text does not specify what is being measured.  Nor does it specify what one has in the final verse.  If we reflect from within the context of the full message of Jesus, we quickly realize that we cannot determine or even condition the way that the Divine One relates to us.  If we can determine divine behavior then the Divine One that we thus conceive cannot be divine, cannot be God.  Quite the opposite.  The central message of Jesus is grace.  Our faith and salvation is pure, unmerited grace, a gift freely and fully offered by the Divine One regardless of our acceptance or rejection.

Indeed the measure we use to measure others will match the measure the Divine One uses to measure us, not because our measure causes the divine measure but exactly the opposite.  The divine measure--accepted fully by us--will be reflected in the measure we use to measure others.  That is why more will be given, no matter how much has been given because the source is inexhaustible and limited only by our capacity to accept.  Using a more familiar term may be helpful.  Our generosity towards others will be a reflection of the generosity of the Divine One toward us to the extent that we accept that generosity.  This generosity buds and blossoms in our lives naturally the way fruit buds and blossoms in an orchard.

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