I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Second Reading Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
The Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time made very clear that the change God requires is a radical one. It is cutting up all of our oxen, all the wealth that we measure ourselves with, and give it to the poor. Now St. Paul argues for being a new creation.
The last letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is a Tav, and it is in the shape of a cross. The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Tav, representing Omega, as in God being the Alpha and the Omega. The tav is made of a Dalet and a Nun. These two letters spell out the name of Dan. One who is humble says, “What [am I]? I am nothing before God.” We see this in Luke’s telling in his Gospel, Jesus tells Simon Peter, “Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a deviant.”
When we look to the end, the Final Cause in Aristotle’s and St. Thomas Aquinas’ thinking, we become humble and all else falls into place. In the desert, the twelve tribes of Israel divided into four camps. When the tribes set out to travel, the camp of Dan was the last to proceed. If any of the other tribes left something behind, the tribe of Dan would collect and return it.
St. Paul uses the analogy of the body. A body has a head, hands, and feet. Our political, economic, and religious leaders think they are the head and the head is greater than the feet due to intellectual superiority. A head cannot reach its destination unless it is transported there by the feet. The tribe of Dan comprises the feet of the Jewish people. It represents the level of bringing the head to its destination. How? Through humility. Likewise, our lowest paid workers are the hands and feet of our organizations.
Placing the heel of one’s foot inside a shoe, where it’s dark, represents the concept of accepting the yoke of Heaven in a cold, dark world. Just as the feet are the foundation and the support of the human body, so, too, accepting the yoke of the cross is our foundation as Catholics. Accept the humility to accept God’s will beyond question and beyond rational understanding. Dan means “to judge.” Catholics must realize that we must judge every action before performing it in light of God’s will as expressed from as early as Genesis. In Genesis, God commands that we guard and keep his garden, in particular what is made in his own image, each other.
This only comes through humility. If a person were to rely only on his mind and intellect, he might succumb to arrogance and convince himself that one commandment or another is not important. For the “important” commandments, like not abortion, killing, except in the name of the state, and the like, he’ll follow the law to the letter. As for the “little” ones, like concern for the poor, or the environment, he does not have to be so scrupulous. The tribe of Dan comes to teach that true submission to God’s laws, with all their aspects and ramifications, requires self-judgment and humility.
Dalet can mean both poverty (dal) and being raised up (dilisoni).The interpretation the dalet assumes is the result of the specific aspect of its companion nun. The letter nun represents deceit. There are two types of deceit. There is deceit, which ends in pain and destruction. “He repays His enemies to make them perish.” The recipient is absorbed by the pursuit of pleasure. He is actually being deceived, because in the long run he will suffer.
Moses’ second in command is Joshua/Jesus Ben Nun. He is son of the fish. There is deceit that results in a person being rewarded and uplifted. John tells us of how Jesus was uplifted at Passover/Good Friday. When God created the world, He concealed Himself within the laws of nature: the “ultimate deception.” When one toils to find the truth buried within the deception and restricts oneself to the Gospel life to do so, although this route may be temporarily difficult, one will ultimately find Go and forever bask in the pleasures of Paradise.
In our Sacrament, God conceals and reveals himself, to those who choose to see. Is the bread and drink before us the Body and Blood of Christ, or is it bread and wine? God conceals himself in the body and blood and we must strain our spiritual eyes to see him.
Noah was a tzaddik “in his generation.” The word בדרתיו, b’dorosov, can be broken up into two words: b’doro and tav. The sin of Noah’s generation was thus the letter tav, an excess of pleasure.
Our reading from Galatians begins, “You who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one anothers burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast with regard to himself alone, and not with regard to someone else.
St. Paul, going back to Luke’s reading Luke 5, tells us that we are to compare ourselves to God, not each other. When we compare ourselves to God, we realize just how humble we need to be. Luke 8:4-8 has the parable of the sower. The poor soil and the good soil are the same soil. What separates the good from the bad soil is how they change over time. The bad soil is trampled, becomes rock, or is filled with weeds. Good soil is soft, aerated. From the Fancy Latin, it is aerated. St. Paul teaches us in Galatians that we are to be the same, soft, realizing what it is like to be imperfect. We are to avoid the fault of deceiving ourselves into believing that because we are leaders/Christians/Catholics, that we are better than others are. We are instead to compare ourselves with God, then realize we are not that much different from the animals, but God loves us and has a place for us in heaven.
This brings us to the Gospel, where Jesus sends his followers out in pairs, carrying nothing extra, to remind them to be humble. Leaders, teachers, and the like, in public, economic enterprise, and even in religion are better than nobody else is. We are only called to guard and tend God’s world.