the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thomas Merton September 7, 1949

John 12:20-25
Douay-Rheims,1899Latin Vulgate
Now there were certain Gentiles among them, who came up to adore on the festival day. These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, Itself remaineth alone. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal.erant autem gentiles quidam ex his qui ascenderant ut adorarent in die festo hii ergo accesserunt ad Philippum qui erat a Bethsaida Galilaeae et rogabant eum dicentes domine volumus Iesum videre venit Philippus et dicit Andreae Andreas rursum et Philippus dixerunt Iesu Iesus autem respondit eis dicens venit hora ut clarificetur Filius hominis amen amen dico vobis nisi granum frumenti cadens in terram mortuum fuerit ipsum solum manet si autem mortuum fuerit multum fructum adfert qui amat animam suam perdet eam et qui odit animam suam in hoc mundo in vitam aeternam custodit eam

Nisi granum frumenti... unless the grain of wheat, falling into the ground, die, itself remaineth alone. The words are much more poignant in their context. Some gentiles had asked Philip if they might speak to Jesus. This is Our Lord's answer. They cannot come to Him through Philip and Andrew, they cannot even come to Him if they talk to Him, because words will not unite them with Him. They can only come to Him if He dies for them.

Itself remaineth alone. Saint John emphasizes more and more the loneliness, the moral isolation, of Christ before His Passion. He is alone from the beginning because He is God and all the rest are men. He is alone because nobody can understand Him. Already in the sixth chapter a whole crowd of disciples has abandoned Him because His doctrine of the Eucharist is so far beyond them. He is isolated by the increasing hatred of the Pharisees, who form a stronger and stronger front against Him, forcing others to separate themselves from Him. He is isolated by His own greatness, which elevates Him further and further above His enemies. Now He is alone among men who either hate Him or do not know how to love Him, because they are unable to know Him as He really is. Yet there are some who want to come to the true knowledge and love of Him. If they want to be with Him, He must pass through death and take them with Him into life.

I am alone in the world with a different loneliness from that of Christ. He was alone because He was everything. I am alone because I am nothing. I am alone in my insufficiency—dependent, helpless, contingent, and never quite sure that I am really leaning on Him upon whom I depend.

Yet to trust in Him means to die, because to trust perfectly in Him you have to give up all trust in anything else. And I am afraid of that death. The only thing I can do about it is to make my fear become part of the death I must die, to live perfectly in Him...

This passage was taken from The Sign of Jonas, pp 239-240.


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