Aloha Friday Message – October 26, 2018 – Trust the Dust

1843AFC102618 – Trust the Dust

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¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!)

This coming Sunday, the Gospel message in most churches that have an established liturgical cycle will be from Mark 10 – the story of “Blind Bartimaeus.” This is one of my favorite passages, and it’s really tempting to get into it again. You may recall that Bartimaeus did something that was highly symbolic when Jesus called to him. You’ll find it in

Mark 10:50 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. There are three actions here: [1] He threw off his cloak, [2] he sprang up and [3] he came to Jesus. You can find out more about that story here and why his actions were so carefully recorded. Persons who were blind were important elements in Jesus’ ministry. You’ll recall that the Messianic prophecies always contained a statement that the Messiah would make the blind see. (See, for example, Job 29:15, Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 29:18, and Psalm 146:8.) For a list of Jesus’ encounters with blind men, follow this link.  (This makes a good reference for studying “blindness” in the Gospels.) Among those illustrations, the one in the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John is particularly interesting (See the full account in John 9):

John 9:6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes …

Belovéd, you may have noticed that there is not a Key Verse in this message yet; you may also notice that the title, Trust the Dust, is rather obscure. That is because I want to pick out several little gems from Sunday’s readings – and other locations – and analyze them. Therefore, instead of a Key Verse we will have Bible Gems. Here is the first one:

Genesis 2:7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. The Hebrew word used for breath in this verse is נְשָׁמָה (neshamah) {nesh-aw-maw’} and it signifies Wind, a vital breath, or  divine inspiration, “breath of life.” A few pages farther into the book we have this:

   Genesis 3:14 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. When we hear “bite the dust,” or think about eating dust, we think of a creature that is repugnant, dishonorable, despicable, mean-spirited, loathsome, and forlorn. Adam and Eve received the permission and possibility of repentance and redemption, but the Serpent is in no wise offered these gifts, for in his fallen nature he has disdained all mercy. If man is dust, does this mean the Serpent consumes man? That is a question for keener minds than mine, but I admit that – just as the serpent consumes dirt as the sauce in its meat – perhaps as Satan strikes at the spiritual identity of humanity he also consumes some of the “flesh” of those he attacks.

   Genesis 3:19 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return. ” Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – this phrase originates in this curse in Genesis. We come from dust and we return to dust (no matter how else we decided preserve our corpses). In Job 30:19, Job says 19 He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes. Dust and ashes are amorphic and have no continuity; if the wind blows or water covers them they are scattered and impossible to reassemble. Mire is like boggy, sticky-icky mud sometimes including dung. Nonetheless, dust and ashes are mixtures and not compounds – they can be mechanically separated. Dust is always dust, ash is always ash, and only chemical action or extreme physical disruption can alter that. While we are alive, the “dust” that makes us can be separated and identified in the compounds that keep us alive, but once the breath of life is gone from us, we revert to just a pile of elemental chemicals and a puddle of water.

   Isaiah 65:25 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord. Here again we see that the serpent is relegated to remaining the lowest of the low. On God’s Holy Mountain, not even the most wicked can bring harm to God’s creatures as they dwell in Peace together. This promise is similar in many ways to the Old Testament reading for this Sunday which comes from Jeremiah 31:7-9. In this passage, the LORD promises to bring his people back  from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. Despite our many failings, our sins, and our rebellion, God is always ready to save us if only we repent and serve him. The consequences for failing to do that have been presented here before: YOLO-F. You only live once – and it’s forever. Here’s an example of teaching on that:

  Daniel 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. We will live on this Earth for a few scores of years, and then we will live a live as spirit until the Day of Resurrection. From the moment of our death in this life, our bodies revert to the clay of the earth – dust – but our spirits live on as we await the joyful hope of the coming of our Lord, Jesus the Christ, and with that the Resurrection of the Dead. We will no longer be mortal dust. We will be like him for “we shall see him as he is.” (See 1 John 3:2; what a glorious promise!!) Now, we come to a gem that bowled me over. You know how you read a passage in the Bible and think you know what it says and then WHAMMO! – something else jumps off the page and into your heart and mind? Check this out:

   Hebrews 2:17-18 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. I always kind of focused on 17b: that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest, and that he himself suffered when he was tempted. To me, that spelled “fully human in every way.” BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! If Jesus was fully human in every way, his human body was DUST. His human body died like dust; but, something happened, didn’t it? God will not “allow his holy one to experience corruption.” (See Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:25-27) What does THAT mean?!?!? The dust that Jesus was became the Glorified Resurrected body that Jesus is because that’s what God promised Eve for her seed. It was the first promise of eternal life. Adam and Eve were prevented from eating of the Tree of Life when God cast them out of Eden. How do we understand this banishment?

God saw that his earthlings now knew they had the knowledge of good and evil, that they had sinned, and that they had brought that stain of imperfection into the Garden and into their lives. God did not want them to eat of the tree of Life because if they did, they would live in perpetual disgrace. God provided them with Grace and the promise of Salvation, but having seen their weakness, he acted to prevent them from eating of that fruit of everlasting life. He had a plan – such a beautiful yet terrifying plan! – to restore all that had been destroyed by sin. He sent us a “Second Adam,” a “last Adam” who became a life-giving spirit. (Please take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 15:45-49. It will be edifying.) Verse 49 says 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. We know Jesus also bore the image of the man of dust so that we might also bear the image of the man of Heaven. This is the Gospel Paul taught. We see it in this passage from Second Timothy:

    2 Timothy 2:8-10 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Oh, Dearly Belovéd, that is why we can “Trust the Dust!” What God made perfect in Adam, Adam made imperfect in sin. What Adam made imperfect in sin, God redeemed by restoring perfection in, through, and by Christ. Through him, with him, and in him, in the Power of the Holy Spirit, all Glory and Honor is HIS now and forever. Trust the dust, little children. God made it, and he doesn’t make junk. He used the dust to make you and me, and also to make Mary and Jesus. What Jesus did with the dust is something only God can do, and he did it – in LOVE – just for you, just for me, just for us because – no matter what else we do – he’s crazy in love with us and offers the Gift of Eternal Life with him. Why would any of us ever settle for anything less? I cannot answer that, Belovéd, but I can see and bear witness to the millions, even billions, who consciously, willingly, and foolishly reject that Gift. Pray for them! Their YOLO-F will be exactly what God has promised – as it will be for those who wisely accept the Gift of Salvation. Trust the Dust because that is God’s instrument for our return to him.

And how do we trust the dust? We do that by knowing the Lord, because – as we chant in our Responsorial Psalm this Sunday – The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. We rejoice because our Savior is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (See Hebrews 5:6 from this week’s Epistle). In this life, we return to dust; that is necessary so that, if we chose to serve the Lord, we shall return rejoicing, no longer dust. 1 John 3:2 Belovéd, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. He will not be dust and neither shall we!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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