The door is locked (Lk 11:7-11:7)

He answered

From within.

‘Do not bother me!

The door has already

Been locked.

My children

And I are

In bed.

I cannot get up

And give you anything.’”

 

κἀκεῖνος ἔσωθεν ἀποκριθεὶς εἴπῃ Μή μοι κόπους πάρεχε· ἤδη ἡ θύρα κέκλεισται, καὶ τὰ παιδία μου μετ’ ἐμοῦ εἰς τὴν κοίτην εἰσίν· οὐ δύναμαι ἀναστὰς δοῦναί σοι

 

Luke uniquely had this parable story about waking up a friend at midnight. The answer of this friend, who was just woken up in the middle of the night, was what you might expect.  He responded from within his house (κἀκεῖνος ἔσωθεν ἀποκριθεὶς εἴπῃ).  He told his friend not to bother or trouble him (Μή μοι κόπους πάρεχε).  His door has already been locked (ἤδη ἡ θύρα κέκλεισται).  His children (καὶ τὰ παιδία μου), as well as himself (μετ’ ἐμοῦ), were already in bed (εἰς τὴν κοίτην εἰσίν).  He was not able to get up (οὐ δύναμαι ἀναστὰς) and give him anything (δοῦναί σοι).  What did he expect?  Just go away!  This neighbor friend was quite direct, nothing doing.  Just go home and leave him alone.  He had settled down for the night.  Maybe they could talk tomorrow.  Has anybody ever woken you up at midnight?

 

Authentic Christian Faith

Christian belief is not a mere intellectual exercise.  The heart has its reasons.  The reasons of the heart come from our religious experience of Jesus Christ in our lives.  Our belief is a free joyous grateful response.  We have the privilege of calling Jesus Christ a friend.  However, this active experience is not just a private affair that has no effect on our lives.  Our Christian experience leads to a liberating practice of love.  It is not enough to say the words, we must live the life.  We cannot be unfaithful to the essential message of Jesus Christ.  We need a holistic approach to faith.  If religion was intellectual only, it would be only an abstraction and a mind game.  On the other hand, if it is only emotional, it becomes superstition.  Christianity is a way of life, a commitment, an active involvement.

Do not trust anyone (Mic 7:5-7:6)

“Put no trust

In a friend!

Have no confidence

In a loved one!

Guard the doors

Of your mouth

From her

Who lies in your embrace!

The son treats

The father

With contempt.

The daughter

Rises up

Against her mother.

The daughter-in-law

Rises up

Against her mother-in-law.

Your enemies are

Members of your own household.”

Micah warned that they should not trust anyone, not even a friend or loved one.  They should be careful about what they say when embracing someone.  The son was treating his father with contempt.  The daughter was against her mother.  The daughter-in-law was against her mother-in-law.  Their worst enemies were not outside, but in their very own house.  This was a time and a place where you could not trust anyone, even your friends, family, and lovers.  You had to be careful with everyone.

Baruch reads the scroll at the great fast (Jer 36:8-36:10)

“Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Did all

That the prophet Jeremiah

Ordered him

About reading

From the scroll

The words of Yahweh

In Yahweh’s house.

In the fifth year

Of King Jehoiakim,

The son of King Josiah,

Of Judah,

In the ninth month,

All the people in Jerusalem,

With all the people

Who came from the towns

Of Judah to Jerusalem,

Proclaimed a fast

Before Yahweh.

Then,

In the hearing

Of all the people,

Baruch read

The words of Jeremiah

From the scroll,

In the house of Yahweh,

In the chamber of Gemariah,

The son of Shaphan,

The secretary,

Which was in the upper court,

At the entry

Of the New Gate

Of Yahweh’s house.”

Baruch did exactly as Jeremiah had told him to do. He read the scroll of Jeremiah that had the words of Yahweh that had been dictated to him by Jeremiah, in Yahweh’s Temple. This occasion was a great fast that had been called to ward off the king of Babylon. This was about a little over a year after the original oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah, about 604 BCE. Thus at this assembly, Baruch read from the scroll in the chamber of Gemariah, the son of a friend of Jeremiah, Shaphan, who was a secretary. All this took place in the upper court at the entry to the New Gate at the Temple.

What is better? (Sir 40:21-40:25)

“The flute makes

A sweet melody.

The harp makes

A sweet melody,

But a pleasant voice is

Better than either.

The eye desires grace.

The eye desires beauty.

But the eye desires

Green shoots of grain

More than either.

A friend is always welcome

A companion is always welcome.

But a sensible wife is

Better than either.

Kindred are for a time of trouble.

Helpers are for a time of trouble.

But almsgiving rescues

Better than either.

Gold makes one stand firm.

Silver makes one stand firm.

But good counsel is

Esteemed more than either.”

Sirach continues with his questions about what is better. However, here the answer is not wisdom. While wine and music gladden the heart, the love of friends is actually better for a happy heart. While the flute and the harp make sweet melodies, a pleasant singing voice is sweeter than both. While the eye desires grace and beauty, the eye, especially of a farmer, prefers to see the green sprouts of grain in the fields. Everyone welcomes a friend or companion in their house, but a sensible wife in the house is much better. In troubled times, family members and helpers can be supportive, but actually almsgiving helps you better than both family and friends. While gold and silver can help you stand firm, good counsel is better than both gold and silver.

Almsgiving (Sir 29:8-29:13)

“Be patient with someone

In humble circumstances.

Do not keep him waiting

For your alms.

Help the poor man

For the commandment’s sake.

In their need,

Do not send them away

Empty-handed.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a brother.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a friend.

Do not let your silver rust

Under a stone.

Do not let your silver be lost.

Lay up your treasure

According to the commandments

Of the Most High.

It will profit you

More than gold.

Store up almsgiving

In your treasury.

It will rescue you

From every disaster.

Better than a stout shield,

Better than a sturdy spear,

It will fight for you

Against the enemy.”

You should be patient with people in humble poor circumstances. You should not make them wait for your almsgiving gift. You are only following the commandments when you give to the poor. You should not send the needy away empty-handed. You should give your silver to a brother or a friend. Do not let your silver rust or get lost under a stone. Circulate money. Your treasure should be in the commandments of the Most High God that are more profitable than gold. Your treasury should be filled with almsgiving, so that it can rescue you from any disaster that might come your way. Almsgiving is better than a strong shield or spear in the fight against your enemy.

Numerical blessings (Sir 25:7-25:12)

“I can think of nine

Whom I should call blessed.

My tongue proclaims a tenth.

A blessed man can rejoice

In his children.

A blessed man lives

To see the downfall of his foes.

Happy the man

Who lives With a sensible wife.

Happy is the one

Who does not plow

With an ox and donkey together.

Happy is the one

Who does not sin with his tongue.

Happy is the one

Who has not served an inferior.

Happy is the one

Who finds a friend.

Happy is the one

Who speaks to attentive listeners.

How great is the one

Who finds wisdom!

But none is superior to the one

Who fears the Lord.

Fear of the Lord

Surpasses everything.

To whom can we compare

To the one who has it?

The fear of the Lord

Is the beginning of love

For him.

Faith is the beginning

Of clinging to him.”

Once again, Sirach has a numerical proverb. There are 9 kinds of blessed people and a 10th that is even better. He would consider you a blessed happy person if you rejoiced in your children (1). You would be blessed happy if you see your foes fail (2). You are blessed happy, if you live with a sensible wife (3). You are blessed happy, if you plow your field without mixing up your ox and your donkey (4). You should be blessed happy, if you never sin with your tongue (5). You should be blessed happy, if you never have to serve an inferior (6). You are blessed happy, if you have found a friend (7) and people willing to listen to you (8). However, you the great ones are blessed happy when you find wisdom (9). You are the people who fear the Lord (10), since that surpasses everything. Nothing can compare to you, the ones who have the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of love for the Lord. It is the beginning of faith in the Lord.

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