JOSHUA 16:1-18:28 | LUKE 19:1-27 | PSALM 87:1-7 | PROVERBS 13:11
The land-allotment to the tribes continues. Joshua employs a variety of means from executive decision to mutual talks, to casting lots in order to identify and determine who gets what. There is an account of a set of sisters who ask and get their little piece of the sun as well. This is noteworthy in a society that treated women unequally compared to men, let alone allow property inheritance to women. It is to be seen if this is the end of the distribution of the land or there are still other land issues that need to be addressed.
Turning next to our reading in the Book of Luke, we find the interesting story of Zacchaeus, the tax-collector. Short of stature but long on curiosity, Zacchaeus climbs atop a tree in order to get a better look at this miracle-man called Jesus. Zacchaeus himself had no illness or need of any favors to ask of Jesus and therefore did not feel a need to approach Jesus directly, but Jesus knows that he is up in the tree, and looks up to tell him that he’d like to come to dinner to his house. Imagine that!
Zacchaeus scrambles down the tree and evidently so overwhelmed is he that he tells Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
That is the impact Jesus has on the true believer! It is the least that one can do when you realize what the Lord has done for you! And Jesus seems to go out of his way to make the case time and again about how the Kingdom of God is not limited to the good and upright. On the contrary, it is especially open to even the most despicable of persons—such as Zacchaeus.
And Jesus says to him: “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Next, there is another parable about the rich man and the ten minas: a story of stewardship. Of the three who are given the same amount for safekeeping and wise investment, two of the three use their discretion in growing substantially what is entrusted to them and return to their master ten-fold and five-fold. But one of them does nothing more than keep the one mina safe and returns it as is to the master.
While the master is very pleased at the first two and rewards them handsomely, he is highly displeased with the one who simply returns the initial amount to him. There is no reward for this steward; instead, there is a reprimand, and the one who excelled in the duty of stewardship is further rewarded with the mina that is taken away from this last steward.
Jesus says: ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’ Jesus’ point is that when one is endowed with gifts and talents, it behooves the recipient of those gifts to use them wisely and to grow those with hard work. Initiative and good efforts pay off, as we well know. And yet, lack of the same will result in utter loss and shame.
Our psalm for today is an interesting one, and I needed to look up commentary in order to understand better its many meanings. Scholars believe that it is about two Jerusalems: Zion, aka, Jerusalem is the holy city of God and where Solomon eventually built the Temple. And the second Jerusalem in verses 4 through 6 are supposedly meant to signify the church of Christ, aka, Christians from throughout the world. It is possible to be “born in Zion” in a figurative way, i.e., to be born again in Christ which would allow your name to be written in the “register of the peoples” or the Book of Life.
Finally, our one verse from the book of Proverbs for the day is another one about money. There is much to be said regarding the value of saving slowly but surely, the very sentiment voiced earlier in the story of the minas. The verse is:
11 Dishonest money dwindles away,
but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.