The Didache 13 – The Faces of the Saints

Posted: June 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Didache | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Didache 13 – The Faces of the Saints

This series is reflecting on the Didache if you want to read it separately.

My child, remember night and day him who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as you do the Lord. For wherever the lordly rule is uttered, there is the Lord. And seek out day by day the faces of the saints, in order that you may rest upon their words.

This section begins with an exhortation to always remember and honor the one “who speaks the word of God to you.” It’s an interesting phrase and none of the other translations make it clear. The “my child” reminds me of John. And thinking of him leads me to think that it does mean the shepherd, the episcopos, the bishop.

The next sentence is confusing, but after reading several translations, N.T. Wright came to mind. Whereever it is proclaimed that “Jesus is Lord,” he is particularly present. Of course, Jesus is Lord everywhere and over every power whether or not his lordship is proclaimed. Nevertheless, there is a particular and mysterious power in the proclamation itself. Further, connected as this is with the first sentence and the one following, there is a particular connection between the proclamation, the proclaiming community, and the bishop who shepherds the community in that particular geographical location.

In addition to its obvious meaning of those who live in the same place and time as you and with whom you should be closely bound, the last sentence above led me to think of icons. Those are representations, mystical connections if you will, to those whose bodies sleep, but who we still believe are with us, surrounding us, and involved in the life of the church. As Christians, we do not believe that death has any power over us. We know that the history of iconography stretches back at least to the second century. And it seems likely that is goes all the way back into the first. In fact, you don’t find any major influence or presence of iconoclasm in the church until Islam began to influence it. At any rate, it was a picture that came to my mind as I reflected on that sentence and the way it connected to the other two. The Teaching is often dense and says much with few words.


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