— The Lord’s Day —

Week 11: Sunday

Pondering Jesus’ victorious Word

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

“Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven
because she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
“Your faith (ἡ πίστις σου, he pistis sou)
has saved (σέσωκέν, sesoken) you;
go in peace (εἰς εἰρήνην eis eirenen) (Luke 7:44-50).

θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

One might contend that Jesus’ declaration to the woman: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” summarizes the words and deeds of His Public Ministry. Jesus proclaims and does the work of His Father’s Kingdom in such a way that the listener is offered a connection with Jesus that heals the brokenness of humanity and fills life with the creative love of the Father’s peace. All of this is grounded in and sparked by “faith (πίστις, pistis).”

For many, ‘faith’ is a vague dimension of living with Jesus. On one hand, many say that ‘faith’ has something to do with mystery and not being able to understand various elements of Christian teaching. On the other hand, some might echo a catechism definition: “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150).” Yet when faced with ‘unpacking’ the definition, a good number remain clueless.

Living in a Jewish milieu of the first century, Jesus’ followers would certainly have known the necessity of faith in terms of Covenant living. אָמַן (aman) is one of the rich Hebrew words that translate into English as faith. Grounded in the experience of parenthood, אָמַן (aman) expresses ‘a connection between persons, originally a parent and child, that provides for all the essentials of life (especially food) so that one may be ‘built up’ and grow strong while connected to the other.’ In this vein, אָמַן (aman) was also used to express the relationship between a mother and her nursing child. In both cases, the ‘provider’ knows what s/he must do for the other: give the necessities for life to another. The ‘recipient’ comes to know the ‘provider’ as the source of life and trusts that s/he will give all that is vital for living and growing. For the Israelites, this tender imagery expressed the relationship between God and themselves.

The connection or relationship had another dimension: bonding or adherence. For the one who receives life’s necessities from ‘the provider,’ explicit in that experience is that one receives from no one else. Dependent as one is on the provider, that dependency forms exclusivity. One does not take from the provider while looking around at the same time for a ‘better’ or ‘tastier offer.’ No matter how good something looks, no matter how pleasing something sounds, אָמַן (aman) fosters the life connection to one and only one. This is the lesson of the Garden. So long as humanity listened to the Creator and only the Creator, life flourished. When humanity opened the door to dialogue with another, the fundamental relationship of life was dealt a severe blow to human nature.

It is no wonder then that Jesus calls forth אָמַן (aman) in the people He meets and continues to meet. All of humanity’s ills then and now are rooted in a divided existence that seeks a false autonomy that makes idols of everything thus enslaving our lives in and to sin. אָמַן (aman) – the connection of life to and with Jesus offers true freedom and health of body, mind and soul that each may live in peace.”