Old Testament – Exodus 7 and 8
Today we read about Moses confrontation with Pharaoh and the first of the ten plagues. Some people have proposed natural explanations for the ten plagues. The one I remember in particular is that a volcano on the other side of the Mediterranean (at Pompeii for example) erupted. This would have unleashed a cloud of gas and dust into the atmosphere that would have floated toward Egypt. If this gas and rock contained certain elements it would turn the Nile River red. Known volcanic gasses like sulfur would have deoxygenated the water killing of the fish. It also would have driven the Frogs from the river. Forced out of the river the frogs would have died, their thousands of dead copses bringing about the plagues of gnats and flies. Offhand I don’t remember the step by step process that would lead to the remaining plagues but ultimately it end in disease infecting the grain supplies. Turns out, first born Egyptian children has a customary spot of honor they were given form sleeping which was basically on top of the family grain bin. Thus all the first born sons are infected with the disease and die. Its an interesting theory but ultimately it comes down to this, whether God used natural or supernatural means to inflict the ten plagues on Egypt they still happened. God has been working history for this moment. The Exodus from Egypt will establish the identity of the Jewish people. From the time they came into Egypt under Joseph and his eleven brothers this moment has been promised to them. The slavery in Egypt is, in part, the means to focus their desire and make what will happen soon all the more sweet. The Exodus will begin with the first Passover and formally establish the liturgical aspects of the Jewish religion.
New Testament – Matthew 20
This is always one of the hardest parables for me. Jesus tells the parable of the worker hired to work in his vineyard. Some are hired early in the morning, others at noon; some others with only three hours left and some are even hired in the last hour of the day. Yet those who work only 1 hour get paid the same as those who worked all day. Every time I read it I sympathize with those guys who worked all day. It’s not fair that they work all day and get paid the same as those who worked only 1 hour! Then I read on and I catch myself getting Jesus’ point. Those who worked all day got what they were promised and they have no right to be angry if the master wants to be generous and give the same to those who worked only one hour. In fact, those who worked all day should be happy for the other and respectful of the master who is so generous. When I read this part I always feel a little twinge of guilt for falling into the emotional trap of this parable yet again. Then I am usually happy because we know the vineyard they are called to is God’s kingdom and the wages they are given is eternal life. Of course I am happy for those that only worked and hour, who at the last moment, did something … they did just what they needed and got in just in time. I’m ecstatic they made it. And of course the wages are the same, for each person that make it to heaven gets the same thing, union with God, perfection and complete happiness.