Thursday, March 11, 2010

Two Swords

The enigmatic saying of Jesus (in St. Luke 22:31-38) concerning two swords has been interpreted variously through the ages, most famously by the papacy during its ascendancy to support the idea that the pope grants the emperor the right to use his (the pope's) sword to govern, thus placing the church over the state.

Contextually we may see the existence of two swords here as a show of strength, certainly, but that strength is not to be used. When the high priest's servant's ear is cut off, Jesus rebukes the show of power, and goes humbly to his arrest, holding back the power at his disposal. So also, all the way to his death.

The two swords might therefore be seen to signify his two natures, and here, the fact that his divine attributes, though available, are not used: he goes to crucifixion because he wants to.

So also, he could help us at once in all our troubles, but instead uses them to strengthen us, as he did Peter: "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

The sermon.


Peter said...

I think it shows the disciples' fundamental misunderstanding of our Lord's Kingdom. They misunderstood Jesus when he had spoken about a sword. To this, in a very unteachable moment, Jesus can only say, "That's enough." With Islam again on the rise, this is a great reminder that the Kingdom does not advance by the sword.

Fr BFE said...

Yeah, I've heard that explanation, but I have a bit of trouble swallowing the idea that Jesus' "It is enough" really means "that's enough."

Something more there.

Peter said...

Well, it's part of greater theme, showing that Christians are not in fact revolutionary, even though they are turning the world upside-down (Book of Acts). This fits in with Luke's emphasis on Jesus' innonence in the Lukan trial, where not only Pilate (3x), but also Herod finds Jesus innocent.

Fr BFE said...

I'm just not convinced there is sufficient warrant to interpret 'hikanos estin' or in Latin 'satis est' as 'that's enough'. There certainly is not parallel in Scripture, and so far I haven't found much elsewhere.