Friday, February 3, 2017

Wise teachings to ponder

Reading the Sunday Gospel text, I recalled two different stories that have some connection with one another. 

In the Matthew reading, Jesus is offering the crowds his Sermon on the Mount.  Just after he gives the Beatitudes, Jesus says,

13“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:13-16, NRSV)

In my ruminations, I recalled a bit of rabbinic lore that I believe has some parallels to the Gospel reading:

The rabbis tell a story about a student asking a teacher when it is dawn.
The student asks, "Is it dawn when you can see well enough to tell a sheep from a dog?"

"No," the rabbi said.
"Is it when it is light enough to tell one kind of tree from another?"

"No," the rabbi said. "It is when you can see the face of a stranger and recognize it in the face of a brother or sister.  Until then, no matter how light it is, it is still very dark."

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