The Roman Household

Too often, students of Scripture dismiss difficult texts by separating the culture of the biblical era from what they consider the real ”message” of the biblical story—but this is a fallacy. Empirically, the text—the letters and words inscribed on the page—are the message. The rule of Matthew precludes the addition or subtraction of anything from this inscription.

If the message in your head does not recount every letter of Hebrew and Greek in the entire Bible, it’s not the biblical message. So when Scripture deals with Roman culture, like it or not, Roman culture is part of the package. When we attempt to sift it out, the Gospel becomes unintelligible.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 8:5-13.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/11089981/tbal%20episode%20266.mp3

Episode 266 Matthew 8:5-13; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Crusade – Heavy Industry” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

The Witness of the Leper

In the Gospel of Matthew, knowledge of Scripture determines the value of a Levitical priest. What are the specific rules of Leviticus and what do they mean? What is the priest commanded to do when he encounters a leper? What does the Levitical sign of skin disease teach the priest about the household of Abraham?

In the story of the leper’s healing in Matthew 8, Jesus demonstrates the answer to these questions through his obedience to the rule of Leviticus, placing accountability for the plight of the outcast squarely on the shoulders of “Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests.” (Leviticus 13:2)

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 8:1-4.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/11070220/tbal%20episode%20265.mp3

Episode 265 Matthew 8:1-4; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Cottages” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

These Words

As teachers and students, we delude ourselves with abstraction. How many of us, instead of teaching the words of the Bible, offer a cheap summary or moral extraction to get at (what we call) the gist of the story? How often have you heard someone talk and talk and talk about God for hours without following the storyline of Scripture, in English, let alone the original languages? How often? The King James Bible contains 783,137 words. There is no gist. There are only “these words.”

“Everyone,” Jesus explains, “who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matthew 7:26)

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 7:24-29.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/11050400/tbal%20episode%20264.mp3

Episode 264 Matthew 7:24-29; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Dream Catcher” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Not Everyone Who Says, “Lord, Lord”

It’s unclear how or when the phrase “I love you” became the sacrosanct rubric of America’s devolving mating rituals, but it did. In the place of duty, honor, and commitment, we peddle the fake importance of a self-involved, emotionally insecure obsession with three words that represent a hormonal response. Even if you think you disagree, you know its true. Your spouse can say, “I love you” until they’re blue in the face. It is meaningless if their behavior says otherwise. Enter Matthew 7. Jesus does not care if you say, “I love you.” The world does not stop spinning and it is not an apocalyptic sign that now you are truly his disciple. No way. Human words are cheap. You are only his disciple when you act like it.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 7:21-23. Today’s episode begins with a reading of Deuteronomy 13:1-3.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/11030917/tbal%20episode%20263.mp3

Episode 262 Matthew 7:21-23; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Hackbeat” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Beware of False Prophets

Priorities control a person’s speech. If a pastor’s goal is to share the words of the Bible, he will speak the words of the Bible. If his goal is to grow his parish, he will add to (or subtract from) the words of Scripture to appeal to his target audience, ignoring the Lord’s warning in Matthew 7:6 to protect what is holy. In Matthew, this kind of teacher is singled out as a false prophet, easily identifiable, Jesus explains, by the content of what is taught and by its outcome.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 7:15-20.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/11013816/tbal%20episode%20262.mp3

Episode 262 Matthew 7:15-20; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “That’s a Wrap” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

The Narrow Path

In the modern Internet of Consumers, everyone is treated as a profit center. Content, images, and themes are all engineered to attract the widest audience possible. If everyone likes your message, it must be good, right? This profit centered model has corrupted our media institutions and undermines our trust in each other. In 2018, everyone is in sales—even our universities—and it’s a catastrophe.

While the Bible was indeed written in such a way that the widest possible audience could understand it’s content, it was not written to be accepted by a broad audience. It was written to say what it has to say with no regard for its appeal. That is what it means to teach and the biblical teaching in Matthew is itself the narrow path of which Jesus speaks.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 7:13-14.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/10992534/tbal%20episode%20261.mp3

Episode 261 Matthew 7:13-14; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Just Nasty” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Ask, Seek, and Knock

Too often, the Lord’s promise in Matthew 7:7, that those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, is reframed by a consumer mindset, as though prayer is the adult version of writing a letter to Santa Claus. But if we hear this verse in the context of Matthew, we’re stuck with a different reality: God’s will is immutable and dominant, he already knows what we need, and we are not allowed to ask for stuff when we pray. So why and what are we suddenly asking for and seeking in verse 7?

In a gospel that began with an overview of the Old Testament and a crash course in biblical Hebrew, Matthew is challenging us: whatever we need is already available in Scripture—so ask the Torah and seek its pages. Everything you need will be provided.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 7:7-12.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/10974858/tbal%20episode%20260.mp3

Episode 260 Matthew 7:7-12; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Club Seamus” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Dogs, Swine, and Pearls

Too often, teachers use Matthew 7:6 to cast aspersion on the unchurched, difficult students, or people who are not interested in what they have to say. In doing so, they twist the meaning of the Gospel to serve themselves at the expense of others. When the Lord warns his followers, “Do not give what is holy to dogs,” it is the believer, not the gentile “dog,” who is under judgment.

Those entrusted with the Gospel are responsible to abstain from defiling it with their lips. If you sit on the seat of Moses and proclaim your words in judgment and not the words of Scripture, you can’t help but be self-serving. Such words defile you and those who hear you.

Therefore, Jesus warns, don’t be surprised when the people you abuse with your lies “turn and tear you to pieces.” In that moment, Ezekiel proclaims, ”you shall know that I am the Lord,” (Ezekiel 11:12) the only Judge, whose throne is in the heavens.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 7:4-6.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/10952668/tbal%20episode%20259.mp3

Episode 259 Matthew 7:4-6; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Chillin Hard” Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Only One Opinion Counts

Too often, we co-opt the prohibition against judgment in Matthew as a mechanism of our self-imposed fragility. We don’t want to be challenged with our sins, so when confronted, we blather, “who are you to judge?”

Fortunately, Matthew 7 renders this question totally non-functional. “Who am I?” I am exactly what you are and what St. Paul proclaims me to be: nothing, absolutely nothing. It the Lord’s teaching that is the “something” by which we are judged. Since we are nothing, I have no right not to read his judgment aloud and you have no right to cover your ears.

Make no mistake, there shall be no “safe spaces” in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 7:1-3.

Listen:https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/10937400/tbal%20episode%20258.mp3

Episode 258 Matthew 6:31-34; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Retrofuture Clean” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Sufficient for the Day

When we step back to consider the full scope of any effort, even when the work in front of us pertains to God and not to mammon, it’s easy to become paralyzed by stress and anxiety. In Matthew, Jesus solves this problem by narrowing the scope of our worries yet further: yes, we must limit our concerns to the Master’s instruction for us, but that is not enough. We must also become far more deliberate and practical in the execution of our duties because it’s not the Master’s commandment in abstraction that we serve, but the Master’s demands of us now, at this very moment, when both the need and the task are within reach.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Matthew 6:31-34.

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/10922377/tbal%20episode%20257.mp3

Episode 257 Matthew 6:31-34; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Laserpack” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/