The Ephesus School

Every Last Cent

Christians come up with strange explanations as to the relationship between the Law of Moses and Pauline grace. Maybe, they argue, only part of the Law is valid—like the Ten Commandments—but the rest is draconian and Jesus came to rescue us from legalism. Others claim, maybe, because of grace, Jesus is saying that we can do whatever we want and trust that God will make it OK. My favorite explanation is what I call the combo platter: “You see, Fr. Marc, we need both grace and the work of our hands. It’s a deep partnership with God.”

Really? Partnership? Do you really believe that? Please, help me understand the way in which the creator of the heavens and earth is dependent on you for anything. If that’s true, then maybe Paul was wrong. Maybe you are something. Still, it’s more likely that Paul was right: that we are nothing when we think that we are something. Maybe that’s why Matthew compels us to give an account for every last minuscule detail of the Mosaic Law. Not so that we can get grace as a consolation prize (like magic pixie dust) but so that we can be humbled and broken with Jesus on the Cross into understanding that God of Moses has been graceful all along.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 5:19-26.


Episode 248 Matthew 5:19-26; Subscribe:; “River Fire” Kevin MacLeod ( ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

No Better Establishment

Fr. Paul explains how the biblical story does not propose a better establishment. (Episode 36)


Not One Iota

“Being instructed out of the Law,” are you “confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, [and] a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth?” (Romans 2:18-21) “Are you confident,” Paul asks in Romans, “Are you sure that you are a light the blind?”

When Jesus says that “you are the salt of the earth” or “you are the light of the world” do you really believe that you are the light? The Law, in which you boast, is the light to the blind which you yourself do not heed. “You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? [Indeed] ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ just as it is written.” (Romans 2:23-24) So be careful when you boast. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter [not one iota] or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 5:15-18.


Episode 247 Matthew 5:15-18; Subscribe:; “Miami Viceroy” Kevin MacLeod ( ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

The Purpose of the Greek Epics

Fr. Paul explains the purpose of the Greek epics and the way in which the biblical story pushes back. (Episode 35)


Salt of the Earth

If an author writes the words, “red lead,” is she directing a person named Red to lead a group of people or is she referring to a lead based substance that is colored red, as in, “red lead?” If she is speaking and we cannot see the spelling of her words, is she informing her audience that she read a book about leadership, or was it an essay about lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan’s water supply? You get the point. Context is paramount for understanding.

When Jesus says, “you are the salt of the earth,” and then talks about a loss of flavor, what does he mean? Actual salt cannot lose its flavor, but according to Jesus, his followers are definitely at risk of losing their flavor. If we can lose our saltiness, that means that whatever made us the “salt of the earth” was put into us. How are we to discern what this thing is and how it works? How are we to understand the phrase, “you are the salt of the earth?” The answer is context.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 5:13-14.

This week’s episode is presented in honor Fr. Paul Tarazi’s 75th birthday. May God grant him many years.


Episode 246 Matthew 5:13-14; Subscribe:; “Thinking Music” Kevin MacLeod ( ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Scripture as a Totality

Fr. Paul reviews interconnected terminology, geographic references, and narrative themes in the Bible that point to Scripture as a totality. (Episode 34)

This week’s episode falls on the occasion of Fr. Paul’s 75th birthday. Happy Birthday, Abouna!


Blessings and Insults

The suffering of others should make us feel ashamed. When we see a neighbor in need, in poor health, overcome by calamity or besieged by violence, their burden is both a call to action and a check on our ego. Honestly, what right have we to complain about anything in the face of our neighbor’s misfortune? Regrettably, we routinely appropriate such shame as a means of influence. Politicians spin suffering to promote anger and a spirit of self-righteousness while victims point to misfortune as an excuse for cruelty. So what are we to make of the words of Jesus, “Blessed are you when people insult you?”

“Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

According to St. Paul’s sternly-worded instruction, the question as to which suffering is worthy of Christ’s blessing cannot be determined before the judgment. In Matthew, the criterion for this final test is not whether or not you suffered, but whether or not your suffering was for the right reason.

You may want to hold off cashing in your blessings before the time.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 5:9-12.Listen:

Episode 245 Matthew 5:9-12; Subscribe:; “Zap Beat” Kevin MacLeod ( ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0


Fr. Paul provides an overview of the term shamar in the book Genesis. (Episode 33)Listen:

Clarity of Purpose

Hunger and thirst are clarifying. When you are desperate for a drink of water, or you have not eaten in days, your biological needs control your actions. In turn, your actions reorder your thoughts, and you acquire clarity of vision—you know what you want, you know it when you see it, you know what you need to do, and you see the world around you in these terms. Now imagine that your biological need for food and drink is co-opted by the obligation to hear and obey God’s teaching. Your hunger and thirst for this teaching lead you to act with mercy toward others, which, in turn, organizes your mind. Your mind, now clear of distraction (a phrase usually translated as “purity of heart”) is wholly conformed to this teaching, allowing you to see God in the world around you.

“Blessed [indeed] are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 5:6-8.


Episode 244 Matthew 5:6-8; Subscribe:; “Mystery Sax” Kevin MacLeod ( ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

The Chicken or the Egg?

Fr. Paul explains the terms flock and sheep and the problem individualism poses for our hearing of Scripture. (Episode 32)


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