You approach Mount/Are, Zion/Pile of Rocks, and the city/Eire of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem/City of Peace. You approach the myriad of messengers in panegyric, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, with God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made Shalom, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant/Brit, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
We all remember writing comparison and contrast papers in English class. The passage St. Paul writes is one of those comparison and contrast papers. St. Paul first mentions the Jewish nation as it traveled to Mount Zion to receive the Ten Commandments.
You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them, they could not bear to hear the command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” This refers to the Hebrews/Hebrew for homeless, as they approached Mount Zion. That mountain had the fire and the darkness caused by the eruption of that volcano. The storm and trumpet blast refers to the horns of the leadership as they marched toward that mountain. The people were afraid to approach Mt. Zion, as would anyone as they approached an active volcano.
He then speaks of God’s new nation as it travels to the City of Peace, Jerusalem to meet with the myriad of messengers/angels, apostles of the God of Life. St. Paul writes assuming the readers knows of the church leadership, referring to them as angels/messengers.
What God requires in this passage starts with verse 14. “Strive for peace/shalom with everyone, and for that sense of being special/married to God, without which no one will see Kyrie. See to it that no one be deprived of the kindness of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become polluted.” It is the sense of bitterness that causes the Black Lives Matter Movement. We need to hear, not, “Black Lives Matter,” but “Our Lives Matter.” We need to feel that hurt as coming from some of us, and then address that bitterness, that hurt, with humility.
St. Paul refers to God in this passage as “אֱלהִים חַיִּים, the God of Life. This passage calls us to be representatives of the God of Life, the one who brings life. There is no room for bitterness or dissent here. There is only room for bringing community and the fullness of life to all people. Our God is the God of Life, Elohim Chaim. He calls us to bring life/himself, to all people.
Do not reject the one who speaks: our Pope, Bishops, and Clergy. Clergy comes from kleros “a lot, allotment; piece of land; heritage, inheritance. Our clergy reminds us of our heritage, as Catholics, and as Americans. Give us your tired, your poor, those yearning to breathe free.”
If they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much more in our case if we turn away from the one who warns from heaven. St. Paul uses Jewish rhetoric here, Kal Vahomer, Light and heavy. We will not escape God’s wrath when God’s representatives preach it. How much more, will we not escape the warnings from heaven?
We who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer liturgy/public service pleasing to God in a sense of shame, modesty and caution or discretion.
Therefore, St. Paul teaches us to strive for Shalom/tranquility/peace with all men. He calls us not to shake things up. Our Gospel for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time speaks of the same issue. We are to approach, do liturgy to God with a sense of shame, modesty and caution or discretion. We are to approach God in the Eucharist knowing we are dust and ashes. Our passage tells us, ““When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.
We create an unshakable kingdom when we do this. Everyone trusts everyone. Nobody rushes for the first table if the host must ask people to sit at the first table. This brings tranquility. Jesus then goes on, ““When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the Tzaddicim/charitable/just.”
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows worldwide welcome, her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This is what God requires of us, approaching his home, the host, with humility and a sense of the sacred/being married to God. From this sense of humility, we reach out into the world to bring it healing, creating a sense of community that causes shalom/peace, a sense of safety. We need to remember that our God is a God of Life. Elohim Chaim. He calls us to bring life to all we see. Are we up to the task?