BLESSED shall you be who walk in the ways of the Lord! (Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6). God made them male and female; they are no longer two but one flesh. To enter the kingdom of God, one must be like a child with complete trust in God (Mark 10:2-16).
Blessed is the person who fears the Lord
Like a wisdom piece of writing, Psalm 128 instructs, rather than addresses, God directly in praise or in petition. It begins with a beatitude: Happy are all who fear the Lord and follow His ways. Fear of the Lord is characteristic of the righteous person. It is not an abstract attitude but involves concrete fidelity to the ways of the Lord. It denotes tremendous awe at the marvels and power of God, which moves one to live in accord with the will of the Almighty and would not take any risk that might lead to separation from God. Fear of the Lord is not terror at being mistreated, but uncertainty should one be negligent in one’s obligations proper to the relationship with the Lord.
The blessings promised begin with the good fortune of enjoying the fruit of one’s labor, and not somebody else eating the fruit of what one planted (cf. Isaiah 65:21-23). In other words, no enemies shall have your grain for food or drink your wine (cf. Isaiah 62:8-9). God’s favor will also be experienced in having a happy and large family: the wife like a fruitful vine and one’s sons like olive saplings. A large family is a sign of fertility and prosperity, providing companions through life, partners in work and protectors in a hostile environment. Such is your blessing, if you fear the Lord. And may God bless you from His sacred dwelling place in Zion, and may you share in the favored city Jerusalem’s prosperity all the days of your life!
God made them male and female
Divorce among the Jews was permitted by law; debated were the grounds acceptable for divorce. The Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to take a position on the public question of appropriate reason for breaking up marriage. Also, they would have wanted to see if Jesus would disagree with Moses or show fidelity to the tradition of Moses. Jesus did not engage in the debate on divorce, taking neither the conservative position allowing divorce on the ground of adultery nor a more liberal stand, but brought clarity to the whole issue by challenging his opponents’ fidelity to God’s will regarding the union of husband and wife.
He went beyond the Mosaic Law back to the original intent of God in creation. In God’s design the couple in becoming one flesh should not be separated in any man-made break-up. In making His stand on the divine intention of permanent marital union between a man and a woman, Jesus taught that absolute fidelity must characterize our relationship with God which should be reflected in a husband-wife union joined together by God. Called to a covenant bond with God and created in God’s image, human beings are challenged to a radical fidelity. Hardness of heart has been driving men to promote divorce; Moses himself had to resort to some damage-control by regulating the writ of divorce. Jesus now calls the whole setup as the road to adultery.
The Kingdom of God belongs to the childlike
AS unmistakable as His stand on divorce, Jesus was indignant over the behavior of His own disciples who rebuked children away. In conventional social awareness, children were not important and so should not be bothering Jesus. The disciples, however, have been previously told by Jesus that embracing the child, the symbol of the least, will bring them to the consciousness of God, into the Kingdom of God. Apparently they were not ready for this. As Jesus told them not to stop the outside exorcist, now He tells them not to stop children. They must be welcoming, not exclusive, trusting in the abundance of divine love.
For Jesus, the children are the symbol and model of those who would enter the Kingdom of God. One must become like a child to be able really to accept God’s reign. In their weakness, dependence and insignificance, children have the innocence and openness and trust to abandon themselves to the love of God. The reign of God must be accepted and entered into with the unself-consciousness of a child. A child, ever conscious of its need for someone who cares, does not have the delusion of complete independence or the fantasy of self-invention.
Alálaong bagá, who are the happy ones who fear God and walk in the ways of God? Fidelity to God’s will must be the one direction in anyone’s life and in every human relationship. The union of a husband and a wife is a divinely preordained and primordial sacrament of sharing in God’s generosity and compassion. To trust and persevere and walk in that communion is the child-like way of entering into God’s reign.
Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio-streaming on www.dwiz882.com.