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Author Topic: Romans 12: 14-21  (Read 1999 times)
ncjohn
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« on: July 11, 2010, 07:36:43 PM »

I ran across this passage again in Saturday's Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours:

14 Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse them.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
16 Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.
18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.
19 Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
20 Rather, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."
21 Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.


There is so much crammed into these few verses that I usually have to read them 3 or 4 times when I come to this time in the cycle. One part that has always somewhat puzzled me is the line "...for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." I assume this has some cultural context but I'm not clear of the meaning of it. Are we making him extremely uncomfortable by responding in an unexpected way? Is this possibly something to do with a "purification" of some type? I'm pretty sure it is not a condemnation or a call for wrath based on the context of what is before and after but I could be wrong.

I think overall my favorite line in it is the one I try to make my operating system: "If possible, on your part, live at peace with all."
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Joy
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2010, 06:59:18 AM »

Quote
I think overall my favorite line in it is the one I try to make my operating system: "If possible, on your part, live at peace with all."

That sounds pretty solid to me, John.  Curiosity about the coals prompted me to google a little, and I found this interesting commentary that echoes your words:

The words Paul chose to describe the results of these good acts have allusions to “overwhelming” and “ulcerating lesions” caused by hot coals. I cannot hide behind a Sunday School image of Christ as being perfectly loving, denying that He would actually ever execute the promised judgment against those who deny his salvation. Additionally, I cannot satisfy Christ’s personal command to me if I am motivated by any desire to hasten that judgment against others, any desire to improve upon God’s righteousness, or even with a motivation to redeem or reform my enemy through heaping blessings or by heaping shame. I am called simply to love. The remainder is God’s realm.
http://www.logos.com/nationalbibleweek/biblestudy/44


Much food for thought.   Smiley
Carole
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Alan
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piggysiggy
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2010, 07:26:43 AM »


16 Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.


I really like this verse.  So many times people say to get away from those who are not as upstanding as ourselves, as if by associating with them I'll lower myself to whatever perceived standards they live by.

What about building up our neighbors?  How can we do the work of God if we snub anybody we think is less than we are?

Alan
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... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
ncjohn
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2010, 09:57:40 AM »

Wow Carole, I don't know if I'm less confused or more confused now! LOL  I tink I'll just try to stick with doing the good things mentioned and let God figure out why I'm doing them and what He wants to do with the coals. Maybe if He decides not to put them on anyone's head I can use them to cook my hot dogs over. Maybe I'll even share some of those hot dogs with some of those who seem to want to put the coals on my head.

Alan, I fully agree with you. Jesus took a lot of grief over eating with the sinners of his time and made clear that we are to be primarily looking for the lost sheep rather than hanging around in safety with the ones we think are righteous. I know I have to be very careful though in making my decisions about who the "righteous me" is going to judge to be a sinner that I should be trying to "help", as if I'm any better in any way and don't just have a different blindness than the one whose eye I'm trying to remove the splinter from.
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Joy
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2010, 08:15:11 AM »

Quote from: John
Wow Carole, I don't know if I'm less confused or more confused now! LOL

Oops, sorry -- I didn't mean to play with your mind.  Grin  I'm like you, sensing that there are always hidden meanings in the words of scripture, and it's great to do the research and sort it all out.  I heard a teaching Sunday about the woman with the issue of blood that wanted only to touch the hem of Jesus' garment in order to be healed.  What an interesting take that was on the hem of the garment.  Maybe Reen will recognize some of this, since she has studied the ancient Jewish customs.  I copied this to my document file, but I neglected to copy the link.  If anyone is interested, I'll try to find it so you can see the whole picture.

Demonstrating Faith
With the understanding of the significance of the tzitzit, we can now complete the story of the woman with the issue of blood. What was really happening here was more than just a woman making a decision to seek healing at the hands of the Lord. Although there was no promise to the woman concerning healing by touching the tzitzit, it is possible that she knew of the traditional interpretation of Malachi 4:2 associated with the Messiah’s tzitzit possessing healing powers: “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.” This would explain why she sought to touch the corner or hem (“wings”) of Yeshua’s tallit. Numbers 15:38 and Malachi 4:2 use the same word for corner, kanaph. With the Hebraic context intact, one wearing a tallit could be said to be dwelling “in the secret place of the Most High” and “under His wings” (Ps. 91:1–4).

Edit:  Here's the link:  www.bridgesforpeace.com/pics/TLWEB0308.pdf
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 08:27:13 AM by Joy » Logged
ncjohn
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2010, 06:26:53 PM »

Interestingly, tonight I ran across another use of the "coals" terminology while reading a section in St. Catherine of Siena's Treatise on Divine Providence.

I say, also, to you, that, not only is virtue proved in those who render good for evil, but, that many times a good man gives back fiery coals of love, which dispel the hatred and rancor of heart of the angry, and so from hatred often comes benevolence, and that this is by virtue of the love and perfect patience which is in him who sustains the anger of the wicked, bearing and supporting his defects.

Since the context looks similar to the Romans passage I'm thinking that maybe the coals on the head are coals of love which "dispel the hatred and rancor of heart...."

I'm not sure if this treatise is supposed to be essentially dictated by God to St. Catherine or if it is her putting to paper what she feels she heard, but either way when it comes to run-on sentences this makes some of those hideous ones of Paul's that I occasionally have to read at Mass seem amateurish by comparison.

Ummmm, God, if that was actually You dictating, I'm only kidding....   

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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Alan
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2010, 05:49:36 AM »

More and more I am less confident in the actual wording of things in the Bible.

We worry about literal interpretations and argue over individual words, when we have no idea what sort of images and thoughts the original words created in the original context.  Words are human inventions, and can only work by evoking preconceived notions in the minds of the listener.

Surely God would not have left His Word in printed form only.  What Jesus really came to tell us were things that preconceived notions don't work that well for.

I trust the heart of the Bible, but less and less do I trust the meanings and interpretations of individual passages as being significant to God.  Plus, half the time the parables were about anything but what the parables were ostensibly about given the context.

My belief system balks at believing the Good News is literally dictated by God, much less private revelations of the saints.  When I was psychotic I wrote some things that could raise just as many discussions, and maybe even be more on target, then some of these alleged revelations.

I noticed on CA that the general consensus seems to be that private revelations were just that -- private -- and there is no requirement that we believe in any of them.

I say the same is true with the Bible.  It wasn't even authored until generations after Jesus died, so obviously we must not be "required" by God to read and know the thing or we'd have a break in the official heirarchy that can never be unbroken.  That's why more and more I'm looking at the Bible as a pretty good attempt at guessing what the "heart" of the early church fathers had to say.

Alan
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... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
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