The millstone on the neck (Lk 17:2-17:2)

“It would be better

For you

If a millstone

Were hung

Around your neck.

Then you would be

Thrown

Into the sea.

Rather than cause

One of these little ones

To stumble.”

 

λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ εἰ λίθος μυλικὸς περίκειται περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔρριπται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, ἢ ἵνα σκανδαλίσῃ τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ἕνα.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that it would be better for anyone (λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ) if a stone from a mill (εἰ λίθος μυλικὸς) were hung around their neck (περίκειται περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ).  Luke alone used the term μυλικὸς meaning mill.  They should be thrown into the sea (καὶ ἔρριπται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν), rather than cause one of these little ones to stumble (ἢ ἵνα σκανδαλίσῃ τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ἕνα).  This saying about causing little believing children to sin or stumble can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:42, and Matthew, chapter 18:6, with some minor changes, with Matthew closer to MarkMatthew indicated that Jesus said that if anyone of them caused these little ones, who believed in him, to stumble, to sin, or be scandalized (ὃς δ’ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων εἰς ἐμέ), it would be better for them to fasten a great heavy millstone around their necks (συμφέρει αὐτῷ ἵνα κρεμασθῇ μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ) and thus sink and be drowned in the deep sea (καὶ καταποντισθῇ ἐν τῷ πελάγει τῆς θαλάσσης).  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if anyone of them caused these little ones, who believed in him, to be scandalized or stumble (Καὶ ὃς δ’ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων), it would be better for them (καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον) to fasten a great heavy millstone around their necks (εἰ περίκειται μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ).  They should be thrown or cast into the deep sea (καὶ βέβληται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  Causing the believing little children to sin meant it was better for that person to die in deep water with a heavy millstone around their neck.  This millstone was a stone for grinding various grains.  Luke never mentioned that they were believing little ones, just little ones.  Have you ever caused little children to sin?

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The power of the twelve (Lk 9:1-9:1)

“Then Jesus called

The twelve apostles together.

He gave them power

And authority

Over all the demons,

As well as

The power

And authority

To cure diseases.”

 

Συνκαλεσάμενος δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς δύναμιν καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια καὶ νόσους θεραπεύειν·

 

Luke said that Jesus called the 12 apostles together (Συνκαλεσάμενος δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα).  He gave them (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς) power (δύναμιν) and authority (καὶ ἐξουσίαν) over all the demons (πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια).  He also gave them the power and authority to cure diseases (καὶ νόσους θεραπεύειν).  This section about the power, the authority, and the mission of the 12 disciples or apostles is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:1, and Mark, chapter 6:7.  Mark said that Jesus summoned or called his 12 apostles, as he began to send them out 2 by 2.  He gave them authority over unclean or impure spirits.  Thus, they could cast out or banish these evil spirits or demons.  However, Mark did not mention curing diseases, illnesses, sicknesses, or weakness, just casting out the evil spirits that might have been the cause of their illnesses.  Matthew said that Jesus summoned or called to him his 12 disciples.  He called them disciples rather than the ambiguous “12.”  He gave them spiritual authority over unclean or impure spirits.  Thus, they could cast out or banish these evil spirits or demons.  They were also able to cure, treat, or heal all diseases, illnesses, sicknesses, or weakness.  In other words, Jesus was giving his own power or authority to cast out evil spirits and heal people to these 12 disciples or apostles.  This was a big deal.  The number 12 corresponded to the number of sons of Jacob or the 12 tribes of Israel.  This authority will be referred to later as the apostolic authority.  Jesus thus established these 12 disciples or apostles to carry on his work in casting out or exorcising evil spirits and curing people of their illnesses.  What do you think about this apostolic authority?

Jesus sends out the apostles (Mk 6:7-6:7)

“Jesus called

The twelve.

He began

To send them out

Two by two.

He gave them authority

Over the unclean spirits.”

 

Καὶ προσκαλεῖται τοὺς δώδεκα, καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο, καὶ ἐδίδου αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων,

 

This section about the authority and mission of the 12 disciples or apostles is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:1 and Luke, chapter 9:1.  Mark said that Jesus summoned or called (Καὶ προσκαλεῖται) his 12 apostles (τοὺς δώδεκα).  He began to send them out two by two (καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο).  He gave them authority over unclean or impure spirits (καὶ ἐδίδου αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων).  Thus, they could cast out or banish these evil spirits or demons, but there was no mention of curing diseases, illnesses, sicknesses, or weakness, just casting out the evil spirits that might have been the cause of their illnesses.  Jesus was giving his own power or authority to cast out evil spirits to these 12 apostles.  This was a big deal.  The number 12 corresponded to the number of sons of Jacob or the 12 tribes of Israel.  Jesus thus established these 12 apostles to carry on his work in casting out evil spirits.

Pharisees question him about divorce (Mt 19:3-19:3)

“Some Pharisees

Came to Jesus.

They tested him.

They asked.

‘Is it lawful

For a man

To divorce

His wife

For any cause?’”

 

Καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ Φαρισαῖοι πειράζοντες αὐτὸν καὶ λέγοντες Εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀπολῦσαι τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν;

 

This questioning of the Pharisees about divorce can also be found in Mark, chapter 10:2, almost word for word, with some minor changes.  Once again, some Pharisees show up on the scene (Καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ Φαρισαῖοι) testing or tempting Jesus (πειράζοντες αὐτὸν).  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  They asked Jesus if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause (καὶ λέγοντες Εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀπολῦσαι τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν), since this was a disputed question among many Jewish rabbis.

The disciples could not heal the epileptic (Mt 17:15-17:16)

“The kneeling man said.

‘Lord!

Have mercy on my son!

He is an epileptic!

He suffers terribly!

He often falls

Into the fire.

He often falls

Into the water.

I brought him

To your disciples.

But they were not able

To cure him.’”

 

καὶ λέγων Κύριε, ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν, ὅτι σεληνιάζεται καὶ κακῶς ἔχει· πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ.

καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι.

 

The story of the man with the incurable epileptic son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:17-18, Luke, chapter 9:38-40, and here in Matthew, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Here it is the kneeling man, and not someone from the crowd who yells out to Jesus.  He addressed Jesus as the Lord (καὶ λέγων Κύριε).  He wanted Jesus to have mercy on his son (ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν), who was an epileptic (ὅτι σεληνιάζεται).  Epileptics were often considered to be possessed by the devil.  Even today, we are still unsure of the exact cause of epilepsy seizures.  This man’s son suffered very badly (καὶ κακῶς ἔχει).  He often fell into a fire (πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ) and into water (καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ).  Then there is the kicker that he had asked Jesus’s disciples to cure his son (καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου), but they were not able to cure him (καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι).  Why were the disciples of Jesus unable to cure his son?

Disciplined eating and sleeping (Sir 31:19-31:22)

“How ample a little is

For a well-disciplined person.

He does not breathe heavily

When in bed.

Healthy sleep depends

On moderate eating.

He rises early.

He feels fit.

The distress of sleeplessness

Is with the glutton.

The distress of nausea

Is with the glutton.

The distress of colic

Is with the glutton.

If you are overstuffed with food,

Get up to vomit.

You will have relief.

Listen to me!

My child!

Do not disregard me!

In the end,

You will appreciate my words.

In everything you do,

Be moderate!

No sickness will overtake you.”

If you are a well disciplined person, you do not need a lot of food. You should not breathe heavily or snore in bed. In fact, good sleep depends on moderate eating habits. If you get up early, you will feel fit. Being a glutton can cause sleeplessness, nausea, and indigestion. However, if you eat too much, just leave the table and go vomit. Thus we have a hint of bulimia. Sirach wants you to listen to his words. Do not disregard them, because you will appreciate them later in life. You should be moderate in all that you do, in order to avoid any kind of sickness.

Worship of false idols is the cause of all evil (Wis 14:27-14:29)

“The worship of idols

Not to be named

Is the beginning of every evil.

It is the cause of every evil.

It is the end of every evil.

Their worshipers either rave in exultation,

Or prophesy lies,

Or live unrighteously,

Or readily commit perjury.

Because they trust in lifeless idols

They swear wicked oaths.

They expect to suffer no harm.”

The worship of these unnamed idols (ἀνωνύμων εἰδώλων) is the beginning (ἀρχὴ ) and end (πέρας ) of all evil. This worship is the cause of every evil thing. They worship in rave exultation. They prophesize lies. They live unrighteous lives. They commit perjury. They trust in lifeless idols, so that they swear wicked oaths, yet expect to suffer no harm.