Proper 12 – Year A

Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b or Psalm 128; (or 1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119:129-136); Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

                Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, was put to death in 1945 for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.   He had written a book called The Cost of Discipleship.  In that book he spoke of “cheap grace.”  He was saying that just because God loves us unconditionally, no matter what we do or don’t do, does not mean that we do not have responsibilities as Christians.  Love God, do nothing, and then go to heaven, he called cheap grace.  We are called to be disciples; and that cost something, cost a lot at times.  Jesus speaks of this cost.  Remember that for Jesus the Kingdom of Heaven is not the afterlife.  It is God’s reign here and now.  So the issue of going to heaven is not even on the table in this discussion.  So in the here and now there is a price, no cheap grace.  Jesus says it is like selling all you have and buying a field containing treasure (Matthew 13:44) or buying a fine pearl (Matthew 13:45-46).  Setting aside the metaphors, what would this cost look like.  It would look like risking all for justice, justice for the cheated, for peace, for the environment.  It would look like a life without duplicity in our relating.  It would look like truth telling, however inconvenient, and not just refraining from telling lies.  When we get on the train we pay the fare.  Life is the train.  But there are a lot of trains, just as there are many lives.  We are not all alike but we must all risk the rails.  What train is God calling us to board for the fulfillment (Matthew 13:49) of our individual lives?  There is a right train for each of us, our special call to live in the Kingdom.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer paid the fare for his right ride.  The day before his death he said “This is the end.  For me, the beginning of life.”

Greek

                Almost all translations of Matthew 13:49 say “the end of the age.”  However, the Greek word here translated “end” is a compound word composed of the regular word for “end” prefaced by a preposition meaning “with” denoting togetherness and harmony.  Maybe it should be translated the “fulfillment” of the age, rather than its termination.  It has to do with arriving rather than destruction.  The angels are not burning evil people, but purifying our own total being.  Now we have arrived.  This is the sense of the Greek word “sunteleia.”

Haiku

Riskers, all aboard!

Buy treasure! And so fine pearl!

Cost what may, ride on!

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