Homer, the Odyssey and the Gospel, Part 3 – Beggars at the Palace

images-1In this third posts (see part one here and part two here) on Homer and the Gospel, we’ll explore the nature of tragedy and the hope that Jesus brings to a world gone wrong. 

In Odysseus’s absence, things at home in Ithaca spiraled out of control. Over one hundred suitors vied for Penelope’s hand in marriage, not out of love, but out of lust for power, wealth, and the pleasures that result. Daily, the suitors feasted in Odysseus’s palace—eating his food, drinking his wine, using his servants, and plotting murder of his son and conquest of his wife. The situation was desperate.

As the story unfolds, Homer paints a vivid picture of the vicious life and its destructive consequences. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins is in play—pride, greed, envy, wrath, sloth, lust, and gluttony—and the suitors are unable to clearly see neither their own moral corruption nor the noose of judgment that slowly tightens around them as Odysseus finally returns. On that fateful moment, Odysseus reveals himself, kills all the suitors, cleanses his home and restores it to its former glory.

The suitors were sick. They used all who passed through their wake, leaving pain, sorrow, and emptiness. They were ever full but never satisfied. They were bored. And bored people tend to find trouble. The result was destruction. We find in Homer’s Odyssey a powerful picture of the high cost of small life, the high cost of a life lived for self.

The gospel shows us another way. It bids us to die to self and live for another. Jesus puts it best, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matt 16:24). The good news of the gospel is that man’s tragedy doesn’t get the last word. There is life and happiness and virtue to be found in Jesus.

In my final post on Homer and the gospel, we’ll explore the nature of faith and unbelief.


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