Reflection for Tuesday, June 25, 2002: 12th week in Ordinary Time.
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The story from 2 Kings about God supporting the Kingdom of Judea against the Assyrians by sending an angel to "slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians" is one which baffles the contemporary Christian. How can such passages, not uncommon in the Old Testament, be reconciled with the Old and New Testament's command to love one another? Indeed, we find a version of command to love in today's reading from Matthew: "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."||One traditional approach to this problem is to claim that the law of love in the New Testament simply supersedes the ethic in the Hebrew Bible which, at least at times, seems to sanction violence toward one's enemies. But this supersessionist approach may be a bit too simple. Biblical scholars today increasingly emphasize the continuity between the Old and New Testaments and the Jewishness of Jesus. So what theological meaning (I will leave aside the historical unraveling of the events in the reading from 2 Kings) can we give to today's Old Testament reading and its relationship to the passage from Matthew?|The approach I favor has some elements of the supersessionist position, but with a bit more nuance. One way to read the Old Testament is as a progressive evolution of humankind's understanding of God and of the God-human relationship. But like evolutionary processes in the natural world, the movement is not necessarily straight-line. The movement is fitful, and sometimes regressive. And this movement was not completed with the life of Jesus. The search for our understanding of God and God's intentions for us is still ongoing. While we believe that the life and word of Jesus contains the key to our understanding of the Father, unlocking the full meaning of this is a continuing quest. So our prayer today might be: God give to me the desire to know you better and to become a bit closer to you each day of my life.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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