Jesus told them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the writings or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. As for the dead rising, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘Ani Elohi Abraham, Elohi Isaac, uElohi Jacob. I am the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not Elohi Mate (as in checkmate, the Sheik is dead) God of the dead but Elohi Chaim, of the living.” Mark 12: 18-27
The Gospel reading for this reading is about the raising of Lazarus. The Hebrew for Lazarus is Eliezer, the helper of God. The discussion focuses upon whether we should focus upon the Second Coming.
Jesus talks about a rising now. St. Paul starts the theme. We often put the cart before the horse when we discuss Christian Ethics. If we do certain things, God will look kindly upon us and let us into heaven. If we say the right protestant pledge of loyalty to Jesus and undergo baptism, we are going to heaven. Protestant success in the business world shows how God already looks upon our efforts, so allows us to enter heaven and us.
This is not Catholic or Jewish.
Do not say in your heart, “It is because of my Tsaddik the NAME has brought me in to possess/Rosette this land, and because of the wickedness/Russia of the nations the NAME is dispossessing/Rosh ‘im them before me.” No, it is not because of your justice or the integrity of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land. It is because of their Russia oat that the NAME, your God, is dispossessing these nations before you. This is in order to fulfill the promise he made on oath to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Know this, therefore: it is not because of your Tsaddik that the NAME, your God, is giving you this good land to possess/Rosette, for you are a stiff-necked people. Deuteronomy 9:4-6
Tsaddik, in Hebrew, means both Justice and charity, that which promotes life. Eliezer, Lazarus, is God’s helper in promoting life, now, here, in this cosmos, order. We need to see the Jewish pun on possession. Possession, Rosette puns off Russia, he who thinks himself first. Those who already possesses think they possess because they deserve it. They are therefore not worthy to possess.
We do not possess because we are worthy. We are a stiff-necked people. We are not worthy, either of heaven or of the nice things of this earth. Christianity has no room for the protestant work ethic. There is no room for rugged individualism. We do not have because we worked hard. We have what we have on this earth because God gave to us, and only for that reason. The Semitic languages have no word for “Mine,” “His,” “Hers,”… Everything is “To me,”… from God to us, for his purpose. Like any employer, do not fulfill the purpose, and…
We like to think we are worthy. Like the Hebrews in the desert, we are worthy of all the water, manna, and quail God provides. He is obliged to provide it. This is Russia. This is wickedness. God rescues us because he made a promise to someone else, E Pluribus Unum, Abraham. There is no other reason.
Now that God already rescued us we read from the Ten Commandments, “Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and judicial precedents I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The NAME, our God, cut a covenant with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the NAME cut this covenant, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day…. (Remember) I am the NAME your God, who brought you out of the land of Oppression/Egypt, out of the house of menial labor.”
God gives his commandments, and they focus around remembering that rescue, what oppression is like. Then we promote life. God is not the God of life in the past, or in the future, but in the perpetual present. That is Jesus point in Mark 12. Abraham is in the present, not the past. Eliezer is in not in the past or in the future, but in the present.
We do not follow the Ten Commandments to get into heaven. We follow them because we are already at Sinai, already rescued. We see in the incense of the altar, the smoke rising from the volcanic vents at Sinai. We see in our neighbors in the pews, the tents at Sinai. We see, as in the transfiguration, Moses, representing the first reading, the epistle as representing Elijah, and Jesus representing the Gospel. We are at Sinai.
It is not our fathers, who experienced this event. It is the people sitting in the pews, this day. This is a very Jewish understanding of the Ten Commandments, of Passover, and by extension, the Mass.
If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of deviation, the spirit is alive because of Tsaddik. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Shekinah dwelling in you. Second Reading for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
If Christ is alive in us, indwells in us, the spirit is alive, and it brings life to others. We remember what it was like to suffer as immigrants in a foreign land. We promote refuge cities. We look for the reasons people suffer in other nations and we strive to end that suffering. We show that the God of Life, the Elohi Chaim, indwells within us. The Shekinah, the indwelling of God causes us to promote life for all people as made in God’s image. This is the essence of Christian morality. Anyone who says otherwise, anathema.