The readings for this Sunday continue from the readings for the prior week. Among the rules of Hebrew rhetoric teaches there is nothing unnecessary in the Sacred Writings. Last week’s readings, begin with birds and this week’s readings end with them. Last week, the birds represented Rah, rot. This week, they settle in the tree/counselors among the grapes of the foliage and dwell there. They are welcome in the reign of God. The Hebrew word for “tree” and for “Counselor” is the same. Jesus wants us to see his allusion to Deuteronomy 28 through 30, the blessings and the curses, in this homily.
The NAME will affirm the blessing upon you, on your barns and on all your undertakings; he will bless you.. The NAME will establish you, a holy people, if you keep the commandments of the NAME, your God, and walk in his ways... You will lend to many nations but borrow from none. Deuteronomy 28:8-12
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. Matthew 13: 19
The Hebrew word for understand is “Ben.” A “Son” is also a “Ben,” as is a building.” A building is something which is built. Jesus tells us how the kingdom, in our hearts, is like a mustard seed. It starts small, with those cute Bible stories we read as children. It starts very small. If we are smart, we learn the rules of Jewish rhetoric. We learn to understand our Bibles the way the original hearers understood them. This is slow and constant study. If we do not constantly engage in this process, we become the seed taken up by the birds, and lost.
If we constantly study the word, we become like the trees/counselors, where those same birds take up and reside. Listen to Jesus quoting Isaiah:
Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you… This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
‘You shall indeed hear but not understand, look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’
What blocks us from the mysteries? Why do we not study and learn. Are we lazy? We are the most industrious nation on earth. No!
Something blinds us. It is doctrine, conservative and liberal blinding us. We look but do not see. We have correct doctrine and correct doctrine blinds us the truth of God.
Deuteronomy 30 tells us the truth:
This command which I am giving you today is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No! It is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.
I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life! All life is potential life, life in potentiality. Want to know the mystery of the kingdom? Choose life. See a hungry person on the street? Choose life, for him and for you. See someone suffering from poverty or oppression? Choose life, for him, and for you. See someone unable to get the fullest education? Choose life, for him and for you. See climate change? Choose life for every animal, human and otherwise on this planet. Take off the blinders of dogma and doctrine, and put on the eyes of Christ. That is what Jesus tells us this day.