The signs (Lk 21:25-21:25)

“There will be signs

In the sun,

The moon,

And the stars.

On the earth,

There will be

Anxious distress

Among the nations

With the roaring noise

Of the sea

And the swelling waves.”

 

Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα ἐν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ ἄστροις, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης καὶ σάλου,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that there would be signs (Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα) in the sun (ἐν ἡλίῳ), in the moon (αὶ σελήνῃ), and in the stars (καὶ ἄστροις).  On the earth (καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), there would be anxious distress among the gentile nations (συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ) because of the roaring noise of the sea (ἤχους θαλάσσης) and the swelling waves (καὶ σάλου).  This was a unique use of the term ἀπορίᾳ that means perplexity, anxiety, or doubt, not found elsewhere in the Greek biblical literature.  This Jesus saying is similar to Matthew, chapter 24:29, that is actually closer to Mark, chapter 13:24-25.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that in those days (Ἀλλὰ ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις), after the sufferings (μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The assumption was that the moon had its own source of light, not merely a reflection of the sun.  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πίπτοντες).  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that immediately after the sufferings mentioned earlier in those days (Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  This is fully in line with the great Israelite prophetic tradition of the Day of Yahweh, like Ezekiel, chapter 32:7, Joel, chapter 2:10, Amos, chapter 8:9, and Zephaniah, chapter 1:15.  Luke did not have the details that were in Mark and Matthew.  What kind of cosmic upheaval do you expect at the end times?

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The seeds among the thorns choked (Lk 8:14-8:14)

“As for what fell

Among the thorns,

They are the ones

Who hear.

But as they go

On their way,

They are choked

By the cares,

By the riches,

And by the pleasures

Of life.

Their fruit

Does not mature.”

 

τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες, καὶ ὑπὸ μεριμνῶν καὶ πλούτου καὶ ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου πορευόμενοι συνπνίγονται καὶ οὐ τελεσφοροῦσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that those seeds that fell among the thorns (τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν) were like the ones who hear the word (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες), but as they go on their way (πορευόμενοι), they are choked or crowded out (συνπνίγονται) by the cares (καὶ ὑπὸ μεριμνῶν), the riches (καὶ πλούτου), and the pleasures of life (καὶ ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου).  Their fruit does not mature (καὶ οὐ τελεσφοροῦσιν).  This explanation about the seeds among the thorns can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:18-19, Matthew, chapter 13:22, and here, with Matthew closer to Mark.  Both Matthew and Mark said that the seeds sown among the thorns were the ones who heard the words of the kingdom, but the cares and anxiety of this present age, as well as the allure or deceit of material wealth, choked or crowded out the words.  Thus, it yielded nothing, because it was barren.  The thorns were the cares about physical riches that choked off the growth of the seeds or the words of the kingdom.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.  There had to be follow up or acting out on the word for it to mature into a full mature faith belief in Jesus Christ.  Have the seeds of the word of God matured in you?

Explanation of the seeds among the thorns (Mk 4:18-4:19)

“Others are the seeds

Sown among thorns.

They are those

Who hear the word,

But the cares

Of the world,

The lure of wealth,

And the desire

For other things

Come in.

They choke the word.

It yields nothing.”

 

καὶ ἄλλοι εἰσὶν οἱ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπειρόμενοι· οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον ἀκούσαντες

καὶ αἱ μέριμναι τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου καὶ αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι εἰσπορευόμεναι συνπνίγουσιν τὸν λόγον, καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται.

 

This explanation about the seeds among the thorns can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels.  Matthew, chapter 13:22, and Luke, chapter 8:14, have this saying in an abbreviated fashion.  Mark explained that Jesus said that these seeds sown among the thorns (καὶ ἄλλοι εἰσὶν οἱ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπειρόμενοι) were the ones who heard the word (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον ἀκούσαντες).  However, the cares and anxiety of this present world or times (καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος), as well as the allure or deceit of material wealth (καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου), along with the various desires for other things (καὶ αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι εἰσπορευόμεναι) choked or crowded out the word (συνπνίγουσιν τὸν λόγον).  Thus, it yielded nothing (καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται).  The thorns were the everyday cares about physical riches and various pleasures that choked off the growth of the seeds or the word.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.

Explanation of the seeds among the thorns (Mt 13:22-13:22)

“As for what was sown

Among the thorns,

This is the one

Who hears the word,

But the cares of the world

With the lure of wealth

Choke the word.

It yields nothing.”

 

ὁ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων, καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου συμπνίγει τὸν λόγον, καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται.

 

This explanation of the sower parable was about the seeds among the thorns that can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:18-19, and Luke, chapter 8:14, with Matthew closer to Mark.  As for the seeds that were sown among the thorns (ὁ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπαρείς), these are the ones who heard the word of the kingdom (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων), but the cares and anxiety of this present age (καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος), as well as the allure or deceit of material wealth (καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου), choked or crowded out the word (συμπνίγει τὸν λόγον).  Thus, it yielded nothing because it was barren (καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται).  The thorns were the cares about physical riches that choked off the growth of the seeds or the words of the kingdom.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.

Joy (Sir 30:21-30:25)

“Do not give yourself over

To sorrow!

Do not distress yourself deliberately!

A joyful heart is life itself.

Rejoicing lengthens

One’s life span.

Indulger yourself!

Take comfort!

Remove sorrow far from you!

Sorrow has destroyed many.

No advantage ever comes from it.

Jealousy shortens life.

Anger shortens life.

Anxiety brings on premature old age.

Whoever is cheerful at table,

Whoever is merry at table,

Will benefit from their food.”

Sirach reminds us not to give into sorrow. Do not deliberately distress yourself. If you are happy, you will lengthen your lifespan. Indulge yourself and take comfort in what you do. Stay away from sorrow, because it has destroyed many people, since there is no advantage to being sorrowful. Jealousy and anger will shorten your life. Anxiety brings on old age prematurely. Look at all the happy old people. If you are cheerful and merry when you eat, the food will seem that much better.

Clever ones (Prov 12:23-12:25)

“Whoever is clever

Conceals his knowledge.

But the mind of the fool

Broadcasts folly.

The hand of the diligent will rule.

The lazy will be put to forced labor.

Anxiety weighs down the human heart.

But a good word cheers it up.”

The clever person conceals their knowledge. They do not show off their wisdom. The fools, on the other hand, broadcast their folly. They speak and show how stupid they are. The diligent will rule, while the lazy ones will be forced into labor. Anxiety weights down people, but a good word can cheer people up.

The distress of the women of Jerusalem (2 Macc 3:18-3:23)

“People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into dishonor. Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the young women who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of the windows. Holding up their hands to heaven, they all made supplication. There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of the high priest in his great anguish. While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.”

Not only the priests were upset, the whole town was in turmoil. They gathered in small crowds as they worried about the dishonor to their holy Temple. The women wore sackcloth under their breasts. This was the common clothing of those in mourning. Here it seems only the women were wearing these goat hair robes. They young unmarried women were kept indoors. However, they were trying to find out what was going on, as they ran to the gates and walls, and peeked out the windows. They all prayed to heaven. The biblical author called them pitiable, since even the high priest was in anguish. This anxiety was about honor and money. They called upon the Almighty Lord to keep their treasures safe. Nevertheless, Heliodorus was determined to do what he had decided to do, to inspect the Temple finances.