Everything that is just
The following principle already applies since Aristotle: Just is what is proportionate, that is, the proportional correspondence of action and retribution, of effort and reward. The other justice, giving more than expected, is surprising.
In provocative stories such as todays, the Gospels depict Jesus' action as a manifestation of the intangible goodness of God, which has a different goal: to gather the most varied persons in the vineyard, not to evaluate them in terms of effort. Most of all, the pious ones are annoyed by this. They are enviously comparing and thus losing the joy of effort and reward. By unmasking the wrong view towards God and the others, the parable seeks agreement to the new measure, the gathering of Israel. hak
Jesus told his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just. So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, Why do you stand here idle all day? They answered, 'Because no one has hired us. He said to them, You too go into my vineyard. When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first. When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat. He said to one of them in reply, My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?
‚No tinc por‘ – Have no fear
“Everyone lives for themselves and everyone dies for themselves,” says the attitude of many contemporaries at demure moments. For those who belong to the Lord their living and dying are no longer their problem.
At the Sinai, Israel hears the word of God: “The whole earth belongs to me, but you should belong to me as a holy people.” This is the antithesis to the ‚mortal fright‘ for one's life. Because, based on this demand, Israel is developing the awareness of asking fearlessly what is right in any situation. Thus a great collection of examples emerges, putting in concrete terms what ‚godly‘ means. Again and again this was misunderstood as a religion of laws, and yet it gave Israel freedom and security in all imaginable circumstances. For the scribe Paul, this creative freedom of Israel is embodied in Jesus' life and death. He reminds the church in Rome: “Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” mim
Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Freedom to do the wrong
Only because there is truth as a measurement, distinction is possible. The entire biblical history of salvation and mischief is a struggle for this prophetic distinction. For truth is not revealed in theses and theories, but in the complicated human conditions.
Its measurement needs to be recognized and named, because in principle, people want to be left alone, and don't want to know the consequences of their actions. The ungrateful responsibility of the prophets and the prophetic people consists in standing in for the truth despite this unwillingness. Just the prophetic warning opens up to the people, in their beloved state of ignorance, the freedom to do the wrong, or to repent. tac
Thus says the Lord You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die”, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.
About Christian logic
“Revaluing all values” is a catch phrase that hardly anyone would connect with Christianity. And yet, in his letter to the community in Rome, Paul is radically transforming central terms:
“sacrifice” – for the religious person this is a slaughtered animal, for Paul it is the man who lives in the community and helps establishing it. “Worship” – according to the general understanding, a gathering with prayer and singing, for the apostle it means rational handling of the concrete details in the life of the individual and the community: social and economic questions, illness and death, education of the children and care of the elderly, reception of guests and introduction to the common life, consideration for the weaknesses of others and learning from mistakes. In this “logical worship”, no piece of the world must be missing, and yet everything follows a different measure. mim
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Also, to get into God’s new world a password is necessary. The keyword for the Kingdom of Heaven had Petrus: “You are the Messiah.” Even when this word was not so clear in the Jewish conception:
It is always about the people of Israel, about their reform and regathering. This is the ground, the rock on which the church of Jesus is settled: the choice of God, who entailed his mission on a small people. If Christians believe to be a participant of this mission, it can only happen with this keyword: through a Jew and with the participation in the history of his people. According to Matthew, everything is decided by this. acb
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? They replied, Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter said in reply, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said to him in reply, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Who needs help
Concentration on the new gathering of Israel and the care for all are by no means contrary for Jesus, not even a temporal succession. When he, the Jew, meets the non-Jewish woman, a surprising thing happens:
She accepts the mission of Jesus for Israel, even takes up his argument, but turns it unconcernedly to a convincing argument for her request for help. Such imperturbable trust turns her closer to the great believers of Israel, like Abraham. It is especially her who is helping all those who are called, to recognize their calling, what to want and what to do. hak
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus' disciples came and asked him, Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us. He said in reply, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me. He said in reply, It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs. She said, Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus said to her in reply, O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish. And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.
The same – but very different
After a long, grueling fight against the false gods, the prophet Elijah returns resigned to Horeb and doesn't want to live anymore longer. He stands on the mountain, where Israel's history began, like Moses, when he received the Torah. And again: Thunderstorm, lightning, thunder and earthquake. But this time the storm is just a storm, the earthquake is just an earthquake, the fire is just a fire — normal weather phenomena. The voice of God is not hearable there. But how was this voice hearable at all?
How did it sound when God spoke to Elijah? The biblical author merely adumbraits it; in the congenial translation of Martin Buber: “a voice of floating silence”. The loud, combative prophet had to listen carefully, yes, he even had to ignore his own disappointment. Perhaps his hearing was the same as the hearing of Mary, of which was said, “she put everything in her heart together.” mim
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the Lord said to him, Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by. A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
On the mountain, three already completely transfigured characters meet, and three further characters who are anxiously astonished at first: Moses, Elijah, Jesus and John, James, Peter. All six are affiliated by the determination to hear the „voice from the cloud“.
All six follow this voice and come upon a path of suffering and great signs. There is a continuity that connects heaven and earth: from the prophetic to the Messianic to the apostolic and the Petrine. A single way of „succession“ of people who want to listen to the cloud and build huts on earth. Thereby the humanly impossible comes among men. tac
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, Rise, and do not be afraid. And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.
Make a wish!
“You have one wish” is a popular motif in fairy tales. Usually, the spontaneously expressed wish proves to be a trap, and the hero must be satisfied with at least not ending up worse than at the beginning. With the young King Solomon, the Bible shows what is worth a wish.
More precisely, what you can expect from God when you ask for it. Not wealth, a long life and military success, but wisdom, that is, the ability to listen and distinguish. mim
The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, Ask something of me and I will give it to you. Solomon answered: O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours? The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.
An often quoted dictum by the religious philosopher Franz Rosenzweig is, that God did not create the religion, but the world. It pretty much says what Matthew summed up in the Jesus word in his Gospel: “The field is the world.”
What we imagine as the “kingdom of heaven” happens right here, not beyond the stars. It's happening now, not in a far future. It happens in your behaviour towards your fellow believer, not in your feelings for millions of strangers. For this reason, the Torah regulates property relations as well as sexual relations, behaviour in the witness stand, animal protection and financial conduct. Jesus also teaches his disciples about dealing with guilt, ambition, and the will to rule. God's rule is presumed, he speaks of it in pictures: The seed in the field, the tiny mustard seed, the minimum yeast. The new world of God usually begins in a laborious, small, and inconspicuous way. But it grows. Right here in the middle of this world, as a world. acb
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from? He answered, An enemy has done this. His slaves said to him, Do you want us to go and pull them up? He replied, No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn. He proposed another parable to them. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches. He spoke to them another parable. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened. All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world. Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field. He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.