This will be the last Wednesday Wisdom for October. How can that be? Oh, and do remember to set your clocks back on Saturday night. Here are some things to ponder.
The Gospel for this week from The Message: Luke 19:1-10
19 1-4 Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.
5-7 When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
8 Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”
9-10 Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”
But As for You
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” – 2 Timothy 3:14
Writing to his youthful successor, Timothy, Paul uses this particular grammatical construction — “but as for you” — several times.
Typically he will note that there will be bad actors about. They are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive” and a bunch of other choice words. They are “people who deceive others, who deceive themselves.” Paul notes this. Then Paul says to Timothy, “but as for you” . . . stay at your post, do your work, pay attention to yourself and your teaching.
As if to say, yes, there are bad actors, there are people who tick you off, there are people who are full of you know what. I get it. Nevertheless, don’t get fixated on them, stick to your knitting.
I hear two things in this interesting, repeated “But as for you . . .”
Sometimes we can get a lot of resentment going in the direction of people who we think are behaving badly, who are arrogant, boastful or abusive — to quote Paul. The problem with this is suggested by the following definition of resentment: “Resentment is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
And there is an upside in Paul’s, “But as for you . . .” It is the reminder that if we can’t control others, and in particular others who are being a pain, we can take responsibility for ourselves. So, yes, crap may be going on. “But as for you continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you have learned it.”
Sure, it’s a crazy world and some days it seems as if people are unfair, irritating,and mean. But the one you can have some real impact on is you. Focus there. “But as for you . . .”
Christian spirituality means eating together, sharing together, drinking together, talking with each other, receiving each other, experiencing God’s presence through each other, and in doing so, proclaiming the gospel as God’s alternative vision for everyone.
Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza
The Wild Geese
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
~ Wendell Berry ~