The last meeting of the Scripture Study Group will be held on Sunday, May 6. When CCD begins for 2012 – 13, the Study Group will pick up at the point in Genesis where we left off on May 6. During the summer months, however, the Group was interested in using the website as a forum for ongoing discussion. The tentative format will be my posting on Mondays of each week a commentary on the following Sunday’s Gospel reading and/or a posting on a topic of interest. More details to follow … read the sidebar.
The Four Kings; Abram and Melchizedek – Gen. 14:1 – 24
This particular passage is one of the more difficult passages to get our heads around and at the same time it is very rich in its suggestive meaning for the original audience of Israelites who were attempting to rebuild their nation after the Babylonian Captivity. A first step, as always, is to read the notes http://www.usccb.org/bible/genesis/14, ponder a few questions [see next paragraph for examples], and especially pay attention to what happens inside of us as we read the passage.
Keep in mind that whatever happens inside of us is important, because it is happening to us. We deserve attention, respect, and caring in relationship to precisely what is happening to us. To do so we have to be able and willing to express in words what it is that is happening to us; that is more difficult than we might think. If you succeed in paying attention and are willing to express yourself, post your thoughts below. In our group, for example, Heber responded to the reading simply by shaking his head back and forth expressing his difficulty in making any sense of the reading. Now that is true not just for Heber …
Rather than asking the group to identify the characters in this story which has a list of names that, at best, are difficult to pronounce, we asked instead can we identify the three groups of people who were involved in the war and its sequence. We can ask as well, what caused Abram to enter into battle? Did God talk in this passage? If not, how was He involved? Besides Lot, who else benefited from Abram’s intervention and what significance does that have? It seems obvious to me, that asking and answering questions best occurs in a group setting. The struggle is to recognize that this website is a group if we make it one!
To provide a bit more context to the story … The Israelite audience is being told a story that helps them to understand their own situation in light of their history. For example, in the most recent primary, and whether you agree or not is not the point, Rick Santorum used a particular speech of President Kennedy to frame his own understanding of the role of religion in the exercise of government in theUnited States. So in this passage the Israelites learn that Abraham for the sake of his nephew, Lot, is willing to take on the most power nations on earth symbolizing by the Four Kings; and is victorious. God is a force in that victory and expresses a blessing through the King of Salem, Melchizedeck. For the Israelite reader and/or listener to this story, Abram mirrors their own nation’s story and the role that Abram and God plaid in this story gave meaning to their life; was a source of hope and comfort.
The personal question that confronts us with this passage, really any passage, is what is that meaning for me in my life and for us in our lives. For whatever reason, as our group discussed this passage, Tim focused attention on the fact that Abram gave Melchizedeck one tenth of everything [v. 20.] We began to discuss tithing; I probably stroked the fire by commenting that Catholics are notorious poor givers. That lit the fire which led to discussing the notion of giving in Catholic and Protestant churches, the church asking for money, contributing in other ways besides money, etc. Members of the group had strong feelings about this. The passage even though it is only incidentally related to tithing, because of the actual comments and questions in the group, raised strong feelings about the church and money. What is money’s authentic role in religion and it’s often unauthentic role? What would be your take on our group’s getting in to this topic? Does the passage have any other meaning for our life today?
My question, though, is of a different nature. How to promote this website as a resource for an adult understanding of matters of faith, of religion’s role in our life as individuals, as members of our country, the world, and the church. Any feedback?