05 January 2014

'Blessed are the cheesemakers?'

(13 June 09 - Pilgrimage to Israel-Palestine, Mount of Beatitudes and Tagbha)

Sometimes, we say one thing, and people hear a very different thing.
Sometimes, we hear something very different than what was said by another.

Walking along what is commonly acknowledged as the site of the Sermon on the Mount, i recited as much of the Sermon as i could remember as i visited different parts of the site, all of which have been set aside as places of worship.  And i marveled at how i could be reciting a sermon given by Jesus (or at least a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus) twenty-one centuries after the event in the same location.

And i wondered about what Jesus said and what the people heard.

And i laughed.  out LOUD.

Why?  Because i remembered at that moment a scene from Monty Python's film 'Life of Brian' where you see Jesus off at a distance giving the Sermon on the Mount.  But the scene is focused on some people in the back of the crowd, carrying on a conversation and trying to hear the faint voice of Jesus.  They ask people in front of them what he is saying.  And someone replies, 'Blessed are the cheesemakers.'

'Blessed are the CHEESE-makers?  What on earth does THAT mean?'

From scripture and history, it is commonly believed that Jesus actually said 'Blessed are the PEACE-makers.'

But sometimes, we hear something very different than what was said by another.

As we moved on to the Churches of the Multiplication (site of the feeding of the 5000) and the Primacy of Peter (site of the third appearance of Jesus to his friends after his resurrection, and where he reinstated Peter after his denial of Jesus), our leader, Shane, made a great insight.  He mentioned that when Jesus had pity on the people because they were like 'sheep without a shepherd' (Mark 6.34), that wasn't merely a sentimental reaction on Jesus' part.  Rather, it was commonly known in that day and age that the language of 'sheep' (people) and 'shepherd' (king) actually had political overtones.  And the mention of '5000 men' being fed (with no mention of women and children in Mark's account) gives an impression that all these men were gathered to hear Jesus because they were ready to crown him 'king' in a political sense (since in that time, men were the only ones who could act in such a way).

Ironically, Jesus' message was one of him coming as 'king' to establish his 'kingdom' on earth.  But it was not the kind of kingdom most people were looking for or thinking of.  It was (and is) much broader and wider and deeper, encompassing ALL aspects of life, not merely one.

Truly, sometimes, we say one thing, and people hear a very different thing.

How often have i sought to communicate something to someone else that is of great importance to me, but what they hear bears little if any resemblance to what i intended to say?  i end up scratching my head, either feeling frustrated at the other person for clearly not listening to me, or frustrated at myself for not making my message clear enough to understand.

How often has someone shared something with me of great importance to them, but what i hear bears little if any resemblance to what they said?  i end up scratching my head, wondering why they didn't tell me more plainly what they were trying to communicate, or wondering why i somehow missed the real message they were sharing with me.

It makes me consider much more carefully both how i listen to another and how i communicate to another.

Ironically, though, sometimes a miscommunication or lack of communication altogether can become the channel through which a new level of understanding and insight can emerge.

As we were about to leave our last site, i mentioned to Shane how much i appreciated the point he made about how the feeding of the 5000 'sheep' and the reinstating of Peter (which included Jesus calling peter to 'feed his sheep') happened basically at the same place.

And Shane looked at me with a puzzled expression, and said, 'B, i don't remember saying any such thing.'

And the wind off the sea picked up for just a moment.

And i chalked yet another one up to the mysterious and magnificent Wind, Breath, ruach, pneuma, Spirit...the One who brings direction out of misdirection, connection out of disconnection, wisdom out of foolishness, propulsion out of thin Air.

Here and there...now and then.


(The Mount of Beatitudes, with the Sea of Galilee in the distance)

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