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light hearted glutton Jesus


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Plenty of readers have seen connections between Ecclesiasticus (aka the Greek translation of Sirach) and the Matthew 11 quotations of Jesus on "wisdom" and on his light "yoke." 


This reader this morning for the first time sees Matthew here possibly playing with images of excessive "eating and drinking" - with a backdrop of Homer's Odyssey. Jesus comes across in the Greek gospel at first as being seen as like the crude beggar Arnaeus (with that nickname Irus). He's allowing that the crowds see him that way - in contrast to how they have viewed John the Baptist. 

ἦλθεν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων, καὶ λέγουσιν·

Ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης


But he doesn't entirely correct them. And so we might recall how Odysseus is also described as an excessive "eater and drinker." And the description gets repeated.


ὁ πῖνε καὶ ἦσθε πολύτλας δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς


Jesus is allowing himself to be considered not divine, as the Greek human hero Odysseus was chronically described. But Matthew puts the Greek phrases in the mouth of Jesus that have him continually refer to his humanness, to his humanity. You all say that the son of the human comes in like an Arnaeus, like an excessive eater and drinker, like a human who gorges himself silly with wine and food.


So at the end when Jesus is showing how wisdom is justified by her works (or by her children, depending on which Greek gospel text is translated into English), when he starts talking to his own father out loud and in public, there's this backdrop of his humanity. I'm the son of a human too. Thanks so much, my father, for hiding things from the wise, for considering the children, us human children down here. 


Then he gets these other humans listening to him, a human's son, talking to his father the master of the heaven and the earth... then he turns back to them with this very very gentle suggestion. Come to me. You all already think I come here to you as a human. A human's son, a human who eats and drinks lots of wine. Maybe I'm an Arnaeus, debauched. But maybe I'm an Odysseus, a divine person in my human eating and drinking. These are epic Greek goyim figures, I know. That may be how you see me. The important thing is I'm here with you, inviting you to be as light hearted, as unworried, as unburdened. And if you still think I'm carrying a load, then just link up with me as a team, as two beasts of burden tamed by a common yoke for a purpose not our own. Just kidding. If you come along side me, as I am, you'll relax. You'll rest. I've got this secret and special relationship with my father, who's going to let you in on it too. This is the way to be a child of a human. This is the way to be a child of God. Here, learn how gentle and how profoundly kind and unassuming and, how do you say it?, how humble I am actually. Again, join me in being somebody like that.


Edited by jkgayle
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