From time to time I will be making entries on the Didache. What is the Didache? Simply stated, it is the writings of the apostles about the teaching of Jesus. You might even call it the quick “Quick Help” version of the red letter words of our Lord. The Didache has way of cutting to the heart of the teachings of Jesus. The apostles set this forth as a manual for Christians, and we would do well to make it our guide as well. The translation of the text that I am using was translated and edited by Tony Jones, and is under the protection of a Creative Commons license. I invite your comments
There Are Two Ways
There are two ways, one of life and one of death! And there is a great difference between the two ways. The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. The meaning of these sayings is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the heathens do the same? But you should love those who hate you, and then you shall have no enemies. Abstain from fleshly and bodily lusts: If someone strikes your right cheek, turn the other also, and be perfect. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. If someone takes your cloak, give also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, don’t ask for it back. You really cannot. Give to everyone who asks you, and don’t ask for it back. The Father wants his blessings shared. Happy is the giver who lives according to this rule, for that one is guiltless. But the receiver must beware; for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless, but if one receives not having need, he shall stand trial, answering why he received and for what use. If he is found guilty he shall not escape until he pays back the last penny. However, concerning this, there is a saying: “Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give them.” —–Translated by Tony Jones
The most valuable lesson that anyone can learn is the difference between right and wrong. Many of us think learning such a lesson is basic, but not so. Often we throw up our hands and say, what has our world come to? Things never used to be this way. Yet here we see a document written about 2000 years ago that finds it necessary to address the two ways. Man has not changed so much after all.
The first way and the way that leads to eternal life is the way of selflessness .This way finds it far more valuable to give than to receive, far more rewarding to love than hate, and above all, that love of neighbor is the path of blessing. “First way” people are generous and kind. They know that following Christ can sometimes involve pain, hurt and sacrifice. Proper carrying out of the mission of our Lord requires discernment and patience. The image of the “sweat in your palms” as you give alms is a prime example of the awesome responsibility of Christian service. Whether we are giving alms or helping a brother with a loan, we are given a heavy burden of doing as Christ would do. May we learn from the holy apostles?
- The History of the Didache (dmeecha.wordpress.com)