Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I learned Farsi,also called Persian, long before I ventured into Arabic. What most Westerners don't realize is that Persian is an Indo-European language that happens to be written with what we call the Arabic alphabet. Arabic is from a whole other language family.

One of my first surprises is that Arabic doesn't have a P. So one day I asked a Palestinian friend, "If there is on P in Arabic, where are you from?" Without missing a beat, he said "فلسطين filasitin." The light suddenly went on. and I laughingly said to him, better we call you Palestinian than Philistines, because that word has taken on a whole other meaning in English.

As a child when I heard the story of David and Golaith, I had always imagined a giant like the one in Jack and the Beanstalk. But that is a child's view of the world. We have to remember that the Bible is, more often than not, trying to describe how an experience felt, rather than get the measurements exact.

Regardless of how big the biblical Philistines were, the point of the story is God. Today's first reading reminds us of a very simple truth. When propelled by the power of God, a single person can overcome what appears to the world to be absolutely insurmountable adversity. Even when you and everyone around you can see no way for you to win, if you are doing the will of God, you will be victorious. It may be a battle. It may force you to the point you think you can't take any more. But if we hold tight to God we can win.

Today perhaps is a time for us to pray for an increase in the virtue of Hope.