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Sulaymaniyah, 2 september 2012
A Thought (Isa 31:1-9, 2Th 1:1-7, Luk 18:35-19:10)
On this Sunday the Chaldean Curch enters in to the liturgical time of Elijah the Prophet. This great Saint calls us without tiring for the proper conversion.
Today as in the last weeks the Lord criticized - through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah -people that seek the protection of forces and powers, that can not protect. Neither the geographical displacement nor the amulets and idols of superstition can be of help when man is confronted with the question about his personal faith. His own death he cannot escape, he has to face it either all alone or, in a decision of Faith, together with the Lord. In fact the believer is always the one who shouts courageous the challenge of Elisah disciple of Elijah: "Where is the God of Elijah?" (2Ki 2:14),… and the Jordan river lets pass the new Prophet. Jerusalem stays for the believers as the temple stays for the single person. Reading Isaiah confirms us that the Lord will defend us. He will even, should we have doubted, pardon us our Idols, - if we only come back, if we convert.
Parts of the Chaldean Church read today the text of the blind man of Jericho together with our readings. I thought the combination interesting, because of the similarity of the stories, and of their differences. The two texts might give a little insight into the dynamics Grace, freedom of choice and predestination. As for the blind man I think we agree all that every man is by nature meant, is predestinated to see. Now, Zacchaeus wants badly to see - Jesus the Lord-. The situation is that Jesus is entering in my life entering in my town, passing on my street, all what it needs is a challenge: "Jesus Son of David!..." and a little of courage to expose to the Lord the proper need like on a tree and he will in a way answer. And Zacchaeus, like all of us, was meant to meet the Lord, because He is to stay today at our home with us.
In his letter St. Paul tells us something about what to expect of a life as believer here on earth and what makes it not only bearable but desirable. Our book is not belittling the challenges the believer finds in his life. The Thessalonians are confessors and martyrs they have even not the comfort of an elaborated tradition of which they might find many answers about the sense of their suffering. They in fact are among the first. On their shoulders, on their witness we can today say that Jesus is the Lord and when we look closely it is exactly that what St. Paul says to his beloved greek community: Jesus is the Lord and he will come from heaven on the last Day. This filled this young community with a joy that it could face the prosecutions and doubts of their time. If we look at the letters we see underneath a joyful freshness that has no fear to ask frankly questions about death and resurrection and the last day, well difficult questions, and St. Paul answers in the same liberty.
Woe to those going down to Egypt for help, who put their trust in horses, who rely on the quantity of chariots, and on great strength of cavalrymen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult Yahweh.
2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster and he will not go back on his word; he will rise against the breed of evil-doers and against those who protect wrong-doers.
3 The Egyptian is human, not divine, his horses are flesh, not spirit; Yahweh will stretch out his hand: the protector will stumble, the protected will fall and all will perish together.
4 Yes, this is what Yahweh has said to me: As a lion or lion cub growls over its prey, when scores of shepherds are summoned to drive it off, without being frightened by their shouting or cowed by the noise they make, just so will Yahweh Sabaoth descend to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.
5 Like hovering birds, so will Yahweh Sabaoth protect Jerusalem; by protecting it, he will save it, by supporting it, he will deliver it.
6 Come back to the one whom the Israelites have so deeply betrayed!
7 For, that day, each of you will throw away the false gods of silver and the false gods of gold which your own sinful hands have made.
8 Assyria will fall by the sword, not that of a man, will be devoured by the sword, of no human being, he will flee before the sword and his young warriors will be enslaved.
9 In his terror he will abandon his rock, and his panic-stricken officers desert the standard -- declares Yahweh, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace, in Jerusalem.
(Isa 31:1-9 NJB)
Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonica which is in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We must always thank God for you, brothers; quite rightly, because your faith is growing so wonderfully and the mutual love that each one of you has for all never stops increasing.
4 Among the churches of God we take special pride in you for your perseverance and faith under all the persecutions and hardships you have to bear.
5 It all shows that God's judgement is just, so that you may be found worthy of the kingdom of God; it is for the sake of this that you are suffering now.
6 For God's justice will surely mean hardship being inflicted on those who are now inflicting hardship on you,
7 and for you who are now suffering hardship, relief with us, when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven with the angels of his power.
(2Th 1:1-7 NJB)
[35 Now it happened that as he drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging.
36 When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about,
37 and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by.
38 So he called out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.'
39 The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, 'Son of David, have pity on me.'
40 Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him,
41 'What do you want me to do for you?' 'Sir,' he replied, 'let me see again.'
42 Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.'
43 And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God.]
NJB Luke 19:1 He entered Jericho and was going through the town
2 and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man.
3 He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd;
4 so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today.'
6 And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully.
7 They all complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's house,' they said.
8 But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.'
9 And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham;
10 for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'
(Luk 18:35-19:10 NJB)