No, You Will Go Down to Hades

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DEUTERONOMY 23:1-25:19 | LUKE 10:13-37 | PSALM 75:1-10 | PROVERBS 12:12-14

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Moses continues with his list of exhortations and examples of dos-and-don’ts to the children of Israel as they await the time of their entrance into the “promised land”.   The instructions range from broad ones such as not bearing enmity to the Edomites and the Egyptians, to very specific and detailed ones on personal hygiene and marital relations. 

While many of these laws are archaic and no longer practiced even by the most orthodox of Jewish people, it is still quite fascinating an account of the degree of detail that the Law embodied.

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.”  These are Jesus’ words to the towns and cities that willfully choose to reject his preachings. 

It is indeed a sad day when a curse such as that is levied upon any people.  And there is no mincing of words here.  It is clear and it is direct.

The messenger was the message himself, and he preached and performed inconceivable miracles to the people, but alas, the people did not care to listen.  Jesus tells his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

We also encounter in this passage the famous parable of the Good Samaritan.  The man who comes to ask Jesus the question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” knows the answers well, and it is to his credit that he not only asks the right and relevant questions, but also offers the right and relevant answers when Jesus replies by counter-questioning him. 

Most of the teachers of the law that we have encountered in the gospels were unlike this man—the Pharisees and the Saducees that we know of were the kind who might have answered those questions differently.  It is likely that they might have got caught up in all the various minutiae of the law—the kind that we read about in the passage in the book of Deuteronomy today.  But this teacher of the law answers clearly when asked about his interpretation of the Law. 

He says in response to his own initial question of how he might inherit eternal life:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  Furthermore, he goes on to correctly identify the identity of the “neighbor” in the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus poses to him.

Turning next to the Psalms, we find David’s psalm for the day is an interesting one that is an affirmation of God’s ultimate powers over the universe.  To preserve and to destroy is the prerogative of the Almighty, and yet there is an understanding of a correlation of just rewards to the righteous and the wicked.  May it be that we are also aware of which camp we fall under.  

Finally, a verse from the Book of Proverbs which offers food for thought.  Solomon, wise king of Israel says:

14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

2 thoughts on “No, You Will Go Down to Hades

  1. Thanks. Be it “Good Samaritan” or “Lazarus and Rich Man”, Jesus was always excoriating settled, indifference in the mindset of his followers. While he identified the identity of who a “neighbor” is in the Good Samaritan, his stark, yet, poignant sampling of an indifferent Rabi followed by an insouciant Levite, clearly shows His disdain for the self-righteous, who assume a high moral-ground with stature and talk, but no actions. Samaritan, who is considered to be the most unlikeliest rises up and makes a moving exemplification to Jesus’ narrative. In the second case of “Lazarus and the Rich Man”, once again Jesus clearly, resoundingly sends a warning. In that, he never identifies the Rich Man as bad or evil. Not that I can recollect of. Rather, he was self-indulgent, patting his own back as all is well and feasting with his own, unmindful of Lazarus plight at his doorstep. And the dialogue that ensues between him and Abraham has made many Thinkers of the times to ponder about what is it that is important. In this Web2.0 era, more are connected, yet, more are disconnected. More revel in their own settled comforts, very unmindful of the travails and needs of the Lazaruses and the anonymous waylaid travelers at their doorsteps.Jesus’ stance was always clear on what is of paramount importance, something St. Paul hit very hard in 1 Cor 13, I think. Where he says something like, if I have the knowledge and this and that and yet if I don’t have love or charity, then I am a noisy gong?

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  2. I am most gratified and much honored that you have added to the meditation of the day. Thoughtful points you have raised on the persona of God incarnate who was famous for answering a question with a question– be it a direct one or one within a parable. The parable of the Samaritan is one for the files, of course, and serves as a template for Christian living, no doubt. “Go and do likewise” is Jesus’ timeless exhortation.You are right in that Paul further exemplifies this concept of love in action in the famous I Cor 13. Sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal is the imagery offered by the KJV for love without action.

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