6 Epiphany – Year A

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 15:15-20; or Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-8; Matthew 5:21-37

“Drinking beer is easy.  Trashing your hotel room is easy.  But being a Christian, that’s a tough call.  That’s rebellion.” – Alice Cooper

We are already into our third Sunday dealing with the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ platform statement.  Like all platform statements, some of it comes out like sound bites.  The uniqueness here is that there is a lot of meat behind these sound bites.  Take “You’ve heard it said . . . but I say to you.”  Jesus is giving a call here to move beyond the minimalism of the law.  Just keeping the law may be safe, even easy, but hardly the rebellion to which Jesus calls us.  Another sound bite we find here is the references to hell and the danger of being thrown into its fires (Mathew 5:22, 29, 30).  One thing is perfectly clear in these passages: Jesus is not talking about a state of punishment in the afterlife (see Greek below).  He is saying that if we sell out to minimalistic conventions we will miss out on the abundance rebellion brings. We are not talking about lawlessness, but rather trans-lawfulness, a leap beyond contentedness and mere expectedness.  Otherwise we make trash out of our lives.  Like warm garbage we will rot unless we break free of cultural expectations.    Jesus is not just saying be nice and don’t trash your hotel room.  He’s saying step out there abundantly and don’t trash your life.  A rebellious people would never go to war.  A rebellious people would never allow others to be deprived of health care.  A rebellious people would never do these conventional things.  A rebellious people would never stay home drinking beer alone (that’s easy) when their neighbor is lonely.  The list goes on and on.  The abundance of Christian rebellion is clear.  There is no trash in the lives of these people because they do not leave human debris, their own or that of others, in their wake.

Greek

Matthew 5:22, 29, and 30 make reference to “hell.”  Almost all translations do this.  An exception is the Catholic NAB which leaves the original word without translating it.  The word is “Gehenna.”  Gehenna was the name of the Jerusalem city dump, where the fires, burning trash, were never extinguished.  It is not hell in our understanding of hell.  Jesus was saying don’t be worthy of the city dump, like trash.

Haiku

Rebel against it.

Never ever trash to burn.

Teeming profusely.

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