The famine (Lk 15:14-15:14)

“When he had spent

Everything he had,

A severe famine

Took place

Throughout that country.

He began

To be in need.”

 

δαπανήσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ πάντα ἐγένετο λιμὸς ἰσχυρὰ κατὰ τὴν χώραν ἐκείνην, καὶ αὐτὸς ἤρξατο ὑστερεῖσθαι.

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that when this young prodigal son had spent everything that he had (δαπανήσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ πάντα), a severe famine took place (ἐγένετο λιμὸς ἰσχυρὰ) throughout that country (κατὰ τὴν χώραν ἐκείνην).  He began to be and feel needy (καὶ αὐτὸς ἤρξατο ὑστερεῖσθαι).  Having dissipated his wealth, he was broke in a foreign land, where there was a famine.  He really began to feel like he needed help.  Have you ever felt like you needed help?

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Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes (Lk 9:16-9:16)

“Taking

The five loaves

And the two fish,

Jesus looked up

To heaven.

He blessed them.

He broke them.

He gave them

To the disciples

To set before

The crowd.”

 

λαβὼν δὲ τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας, ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς καὶ κατέκλασεν, καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς παραθεῖναι τῷ ὄχλῳ.

 

Luke said that Jesus took (λαβὼν) the 5 loaves (δὲ τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους) and the 2 fish (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας).  He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς).  He broke them (καὶ κατέκλασεν).  He gave them to his disciples (αὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς) to set before the crowd (παραθεῖναι τῷ ὄχλῳ).  This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:18-19, Mark, chapter 6:41, and John, chapter 6:12, plus here.  The blessing of the bread and the fish was exactly the same in all the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John.  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness.  Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when Jesus blessed and broke the bread.  Mark said that Jesus took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish.  He looked up to heaven.  He blessed them.  Then he broke up the loaves of bread into pieces.  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples.  They, in turn, set the broken pieces of bread or served them to the crowd.  Jesus also divided or shared the 2 fish among them all, something that Luke did not mention explicitly.  Matthew indicated that Jesus told his disciples to bring him the food, the 5 loaves of bread and the 2 fish.  Then he ordered or directed the crowd to sit down on the grass.  He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish.  He looked up to heaven.  He blessed them.  Then he broke the loaves of bread and the fishes into pieces.  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples.  They, in turn, gave them to the crowd.  This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.  Have you ever been to a large communion service?

This woman anoints the feet of Jesus (Lk 7:38-7:38)

“This woman

Stood behind him

At his feet,

Weeping.

She began

To bathe

His feet

With her tears.

Then she wiped them dry

With her hair.

She continued

Kissing his feet.

She anointed them

With the ointment.”

 

καὶ στᾶσα ὀπίσω παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ κλαίουσα, τοῖς δάκρυσιν ἤρξατο βρέχειν τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῖς θριξὶν τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτῆς ἐξέμασσεν, καὶ κατεφίλει τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ καὶ ἤλειφεν τῷ μύρῳ.

 

Luke said that this sinful woman stood behind Jesus (καὶ στᾶσα ὀπίσω), at his feet (παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ), weeping (κλαίουσα).  She began to bathe or wash his feet with her tears (τοῖς δάκρυσιν ἤρξατο βρέχειν τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ).  Then she wiped his feet dry with the hair from her head (καὶ ταῖς θριξὶν τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτῆς ἐξέμασσεν).  She continued kissing his feet (αὶ κατεφίλει τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ).  Then she anointed them with the Myron ointment (καὶ ἤλειφεν τῷ μύρῳ).  Mark, chapter 14:3, and Matthew, chapter 26:6-7, said that this unnamed sinning woman approached Jesus with an alabaster jar full of very expensive imported Indian nard ointment.  This was an anointing oil or as later Christians would call it holy oil, “Myron (μύρου).”  She broke the alabaster jar of ointment.  Then she then poured it on his head.  However, here the emphasis was on the feet of Jesus.  This woman washed his feet with her tears, dried them with her loosened hair, and then anointed his feet with the oil or Myron.  This was a highly unusual gesture.  Have you ever had your feet anointed with oil?

This is my body (Mk 14:22-14:22)

“While they were eating,

Jesus took

A loaf of bread.

After blessing it,

He broke it.

He gave it

To them.

He said.

‘Take!

This is my body.’”

 

Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν Λάβετε· τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.

 

This is almost word for word in Mathew, chapter 26:26, but in Luke, chapter 22:19, it has a little more elaboration.  Paul used almost the same wording in I Corinthians, chapter 11:23-24.  In John, chapter 6:35-58, Jesus was preaching about eating the flesh of the Son of Man, the bread of life, so that he does not have a Last Supper institution narrative.  Mark said that while they were eating (Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν) the Passover meal, Jesus took a loaf of bread (λαβὼν ἄρτον).  He spoke the blessing or blessed it (εὐλογήσας).  He broke it into pieces (ἔκλασεν).  Then he gave it to them (καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς).  He said (καὶ εἶπεν) that they should take (Λάβετε) this bread, because it was his body (τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου).  There was no mention of eating it here, as in Matthew.  This Eucharistic institution narrative may already have been in this stylized form at the time of the writing of this gospel.  There was no specific indication whether this was leavened or unleavened bread, just a loaf of bread.  However, if it was a Passover meal on the feast of the Unleavened Bread, the evident assumption would be that it was unleavened or “matzah” bread.  Clearly, this institution narrative has had a profound effect on further Christian Eucharistic sacramental theological development.

The woman in the house of Simon (Mk 14:3-14:3)

“Jesus was

At Bethany,

In the house of Simon,

The leper.

As he sat

At the table,

A woman came

With an alabaster jar

Of very costly

Ointment

Of nard.

She broke open

The jar.

She poured

The ointment

On his head.”

 

Καὶ ὄντος αὐτοῦ ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ, κατακειμένου αὐτοῦ ἦλθεν γυνὴ ἔχουσα ἀλάβαστρον μύρου νάρδου πιστικῆς πολυτελοῦς· συντρίψασα τὴν ἀλάβαστρον κατέχεεν αὐτοῦ τῆς κεφαλῆς  

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:6-7, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:1-3, where Jesus was in Bethany, but at the house of Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, 6 days before the Passover.  John identified this woman as Mary, the sister of Lazarus.  Mark also said that Jesus was in Bethany (Καὶ ὄντος αὐτοῦ ἐν Βηθανίᾳ), a town about a mile and a half east of Jerusalem, but in the house of Simon the leper (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ).  The identity of this Simon the leper is unknown.  However, it could have been someone whom Jesus had cured from leprosy, who became his disciple.  The people of Bethany may have favored Jesus because of the Lazarus event.  There was also a story of a woman anointing Jesus in Luke, chapter 7:36-50, but within a different context.  Jesus was at the house of a Pharisee, when this woman also brought an alabaster jar to anoint the feet of Jesus.  Mark continued that Jesus was reclining at table (κατακειμένου), when an unnamed woman came or approached Jesus (ἦλθεν γυνὴ) with an alabaster jar full of very expensive imported Indian nard ointment (ἔχουσα ἀλάβαστρον μύρου νάρδου πιστικῆς πολυτελοῦς).  This was anointing oil or as later Christians would call it holy oil, “Myron (μύρου).”  She broke the alabaster jar of ointment (συντρίψασα τὴν ἀλάβαστρον).  Then she then poured it on his head (κατέχεεν αὐτοῦ τῆς κεφαλῆς).  This may appear a little unusual, but this oil might be a foretaste of the prophetic, royal, or priestly anointing of Jesus as prophet, king, and priest.  In the ancient biblical stories, kings were anointed on the head.

Remember the multiplication of the loaves (Mk 8:19-8:19)

“‘When I broke

The five loaves

For the five thousand,

How many baskets

Full of broken pieces

Did you collect’”

They said to him.

‘Twelve.’”

 

ὅτε τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους ἔκλασα εἰς τοὺς πεντακισχιλίους, πόσους κοφίνους κλασμάτων πλήρεις ἤρατε; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δώδεκα.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 16:9, as Jesus clearly reminded them of the two times that he had multiplied the loaves of bread.  Was that not good enough for them?  Did they not remember that first he broke the 5 loaves of bread for the 5,000 people (ὅτε τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους ἔκλασα εἰς τοὺς πεντακισχιλίους)?  Then he asked them how many fragments of the broken pieces had they gathered in the hand baskets (πόσους κοφίνους κλασμάτων πλήρεις ἤρατε).  They responded to him that there were 12 baskets left over (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δώδεκα), after everyone had eaten.  All this had taken place recently as recorded in chapter 6:30-44.

Jesus blesses the loaves of bread (Mk 8:6-8:6)

“Then Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took

The seven loaves.

After giving thanks,

He broke them.

He gave them

To his disciples

To distribute.

They distributed them

To the crowd.”

 

καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν, καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ

 

Matthew, chapter 15:36, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving, blessing, and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Mark said that Jesus ordered or directed the crowd to sit down or recline on the ground (καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), instead of earlier on the grass.  This was going to be like a large picnic.  Jesus took the seven loaves (καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους).  There is no mention of the fish here.  He gave thanks or eucharized them (εὐχαριστήσας) and then broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to his disciples to distribute (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν).  Then the disciples gave or set them up before the crowd (καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ).  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the earlier feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 6:30-44.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this process is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.