My 6th child was born with an allergy to his mother's milk and he didn’t do well with the regular formulas either.. We were in Thailand at that time and even if we could find a formula that would work for him, it would have been very expensive. I therefore, as a father, found out how to make the formula myself. I found a formula recipe using yogurt and other necessary ingredients. I wonder if this is what the Bible infers by the expression, "nursing father's 😀?
The first time I made yogurt, I put a small spoonful of yogurt in to start the culture. Each time I made a new batch of yogurt for the formula, I would keep a spoonful of it to use as a culture for the next batch.
In the days when people baked their own bread, they sometimes used to use the same system. People would keep a small piece of yeasted dough to use as a culture for the next batch. This represented a problem for ancient Israelites whose religion commanded that during the 7 days of Passover, they were not to eat anything with leaven, nor have any leaven or anything leavened in their house. That meant that the last batch before Passover needed to be fully used and eaten. After Passover, they would need to start a new culture that they would use for the whole year.
While these practices may seem antiquated and meaningless to others, these were historical reminders of the Jewish people and of the Exodus, the time when their ancestors left the captivity of Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time to let bread for their journey rise before they left. But as with all religious practices, there is a deeper understanding of the story.
The Israelites were going away from Egypt in order to establish their own country. They were going to establish a country according to their own laws, ethics, and … "culture." There is therefore a very strong philosophical understanding of the story in the idea that once in a while, it is healthy to shed the old "culture", our old habits and negative attitudes and get on to a new start.
People do it in relation to dietical health sometimes with purges. We certainly do it with electronics; when something goes wrong, what is the first thing we are told to do? Reboot! Paul himself used that analogy when, as he was trying to challenge his Corinthian disciples to a more virtuous life, he said, "Get rid of the old leaven, that you may be a new batch!"
My wife and I are not getting any younger, and unless we be found like the proverbial unprepared king (see story below), this week we have gone to a presentation having to do with wills and estate planning.
A question was asked to the people giving the presentation. “By default, an estate passes on to surviving spouses and children. But what about debt?” Then the estate lawyer giving the presentation said something very interesting. “Debts are canceled at death!”
This made me think about something very special, especially in this season when people think about what happened to Jesus during a certain Passover season in Jerusalem in 30 C.E.
In the days of Jesus, people thought of sins as debts unto God. That is why the famous prayer often reads, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” People also believed that suffering and death atoned or “covered” people’s sins in the same way that a payment, by the debtor, or someone else, “covers” the amount of the debt.
I found it fascinating how the law of death acting as a payment for a debt finds correspondence in the Bible, especially in the events that happened at a certain Passover over 2,000 years ago.
Indeed at that Passover, a Man, who was said to have committed no sin and therefore had no need to die, was put to death as a criminal. Since He had committed no sin, He was not meant to be subject to death, but He had taught people around Him that His suffering and death was not to be a payment for His own debt, but for the debt of others.
May we remember at this season that this same Man also taught those who benefit from His payment of their debt, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” thus reminding them that this payment has one important caveat, to forgive others’ debts against them!
THE FOOLISH UNPREPARED KING!
There was a famous king who had a favourite jester in his court. Because of all his good works all those years in cheering up the king & making him happy & cracking jokes & being so funny, he gave him some property & quite an income & retired him. Then the king gave him this beautiful cane with gold wrought into the wood, & the king said, "I want to give to you this, my own cane, as a special present to you from me, because you have been such an encouragement to me all these years. You're going away now on a trip because I have set you free, & I want you to take the cane with you. That's my special gift to you for being the greatest fool I ever had!"
Some years later the king's fool heard that the king himself was dying & he came to his deathbed & began to sympathise with him & asked, "Are you ready to go?"
"What do you mean?" asked the king.
"Are you ready to die? Have you made any preparations for this journey into death?"
The king asked, "How could I make preparations to die, what do you mean?"
And the king's jester said, "Have you repented from your misdeeds? Have you made your peace with God?" The king said,
"No, I didn’t!"
The king's jester said, "Well, since the last time I saw you I have repented from the many wrong things I have done in my life. I have made my peace with God. I am ready to go!" They were both close to the same age. The jester said, "Once I was going on a long journey & you gave me this cane as a present because you said that I was the greatest fool you ever had. But I have made my preparations for that journey, the longest journey we'll ever take, & one from which we'll never return. But you have not made preparations for that journey. So I want to give you back the cane: You're a greater fool than I am!"
I am teaching world literature at a high school-level homeschooling network. This year we first went through the Shakespeare play of El Cid, which I found to be relevant to today. We are now going through the stories in Arabian Nights as told by beautiful Scheherazade to the Sultan who would otherwise kill her.
The story we went over last week was one of a king who had three unruly sons. Each was more wild than the next. Each had their particular skill. One was an expert archer, the other an expert fighter, and the third an expert swordsman. Their father was getting old. He wondered who to set as his heir, seeing that the three had very important lessons to learn before attaining the wisdom it takes to become a king.
The father decided to send his three sons on a quest. He told them to take a year each going their own way to find the most amazing treasure in the world. I will not tell you the whole story, just a part of it that I particularly liked.
One of the sons, the expert archer, went to a deserted island where he heard that far away, in a Buddhist monastery, monks owned an apple that could heal any ailment with one bite. The son found the monastery and asked to buy the apple. He could certainly afford it, but the problem was that the precious apple was not for sale. The monks would give it to him only if he passed a certain archery test.
The first test was to shoot an arrow in a target’s bullseye, which he did kind of boringly. The next test was to put an arrow through the first arrow. The third test was to shoot the flame from a candle, then to shoot the flame of that same candle but blindfolded. The fifth test was to shoot through an apple sitting on the head of a boy. All this he did with no difficulty. Now came the last test. To shoot the arrow on the same apple sitting on the same boy, but blindfolded.
The archer put his arrow on the bow, pulled the string, then stopped. “If you do it you get the precious apple; if you don’t, you go away empty handed!” said the monk. The archer lifted his bow again; pulled the string, “I can’t! It’s not fair to the boy. I lose!” “No!” said the monk. “You win. You win by not trying to win at any cost!”
Winning is not worth it when it comes at the price of virtue. Maybe that is what the statement, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” means!
Rick and Dave were at odds with each other. It had been going on for so long that they had even forgotten why. They were on the same sales team of the town’s dealership. Their negative relationship was affecting their work performance as well as the spirit of the company. Their supervisor was at his wits end and didn’t know what to do until he read a story in an old digest. He decided to apply it.
He went to Rick and said,
“Hey Rick, you work with Dave, right?
“Yes, but I do, but Dave is a … !”
“Come on!” the supervisor said. “You have to admit that whatever else he is, Dave is an excellent mechanic!”
“Well, I may have my problems with Dave, but he is the best mechanic I ever met in my life. I wish I weren’t mad at him so I could pick his brain.”
Our supervisor then took that precious information to Dave saying,
“Hey Dave, do you know what Rick said about you?”
“Well ...I can imagine, but I don’t care to hear it!”
“He said that you were the best mechanic he ever met. He even said that he wished you and he were friends so that he could pick your brain!”
“Really? I would have never thought that! I thought he was just a classic sleazy salesman… but I can say that he is the best at the job that I ever saw. If I owned a car business, he is the guy that I would hire to sell my cars!” The supervisor then took that precious information to Rick.
At the next company party, Rick and Dave were sitting together having fun and cracking jokes.
Patrick G. Lumbroso
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"