Treasures in heaven (Lk 12:33-12:33)

“Sell your possessions!

Give alms!

Make purses

For yourselves

That do not wear out!

Have an unfailing treasure

In heaven!

There,

No thief

Comes near!

No moth

Destroys!”

 

Πωλήσατε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῶν καὶ δότε ἐλεημοσύνην· ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς βαλλάντια μὴ παλαιούμενα, θησαυρὸν ἀνέκλειπτον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ὅπου κλέπτης οὐκ ἐγγίζει οὐδὲ σὴς διαφθείρει·

 

Luke indicated that Jesus told them to sell their possessions (Πωλήσατε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῶν) and then give alms to charity (καὶ δότε ἐλεημοσύνην).  They were to make their own purses (ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς βαλλάντια) that did not wear out (ὴ παλαιούμενα).  Their unfailing treasure (θησαυρὸν ἀνέκλειπτον) should be in heaven (ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς), where no thief could get near it (ὅπου κλέπτης οὐκ ἐγγίζει) and no moth would destroy it (οὐδὲ σὴς διαφθείρει).  This is the only time that the word ἀνέκλειπτον appears in the New Testament literature, meaning unfailing, not giving up.  The same idea but in different words can be found in Matthew, chapter 6:19-20.  Matthew had Jesus say that they should not store up treasures (Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς) here on earth (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), because it was too much trouble to store things.  Either moths (ὅπου σὴς) would eat up the garments or rust would consume them.  This is one of the 3 times that moths are mentioned in the biblical New Testament.  The other was the Luke comparative and later in Matthew.  Garments were often considered treasures.  Rust was a more common term and applied to other goods.  Otherwise, thieves might break in and steal it anyhow (καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν).  The opposite of the earthly treasures were the heavenly treasures (θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ) that you should store up.  Moths and rust could not consume them (ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει).  Thieves could not break in and steal them either (καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν).  Clearly, heaven was a better place to store up treasures than the dangerous earth.

Advertisements

Lending money (Lk 6:34-6:34)

“If you lend

To those from whom

You hope

To receive,

What credit is that

To you?

Even sinners

Lend to sinners,

To receive

As much again.”

 

καὶ ἐὰν δανίσητε παρ’ ὧν ἐλπίζετε λαβεῖν, ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστίν; καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς δανίζουσιν ἵνα ἀπολάβωσιν τὰ ἴσα.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus continued that if they lent money (καὶ ἐὰν δανίσητε παρ’) to those from whom they hoped to receive it back (παρ’ ὧν ἐλπίζετε λαβεῖν), what credit or gift was that to them (ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστίν).  Even sinners lend to sinners (καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς δανίζουσιν), to receive as much back again (ἵνα ἀπολάβωσιν τὰ ἴσα).  Matthew, chapter 5:42, had something similar about lending money.  If someone wished to borrow money from them, they should not refuse them or turn them away.  These were tough difficult recommendations, but actually based on the Torah.  People were expected to give charity and at the same time offer interest free loans.  How generous are you with your money?

Second narrative

This second narrative centered around the Sermon on the Mount and the famous so-called Beatitudes.  The first beatitude was about poverty, while the second beatitude was about mourning.  The third beatitude was about the meek or the humble.  The fourth beatitude was about righteousness.  The fifth beatitude was on mercy, while the sixth beatitude was about the pure of heart.  The seventh beatitude was on peacemakers, while the eighth beatitude was on persecution.  There was a grand blessing for the persecuted Christians, who were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  They had to value and become the lighted lamp.

Next came the law and the prophets.  The law with all its commandments remained.  The righteous ones would not murder, nor would they get angry with insults.  They would offer their gifts at the Temple.  They would pay their debts and not commit adultery.  Jesus warned against the sinning eye and the sinning right hand.  He favored the traditional divorce stance, but warned about marrying a divorced woman.  They should not bear false witness, nor swear at all, since they should have a simple speech.  No longer was it an eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek with unusual kindness.  They were to love their enemies and their heavenly Father with a perfect love.

The followers of Jesus should fast and pray.  We should have piety with almsgiving.  Our charity and prayer should be secret with short prayers.  Thus, there was the famous “Our Father” prayer.  The first part of the Lord’s prayer was about God the Father.  The second part of the Lord’s prayer was about our human problems.  We should seek forgiveness and fast in secret.  We should not want earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures.  We need to have a healthy eye because we cannot serve two masters.

We should trust in Providence.  We do not need to worry.  Just look at the birds who do not worry.  The lilies of the field have more beauty than Solomon in all his glory.  Seek the kingdom of heaven first and you will not have to worry about tomorrow.

As far as judgment was concerned, do not judge the speck in the eye of your neighbor.  Be careful with your holy treasures.  Be seekers and give to your sons.  Pray to your heavenly Father and follow the golden rule.  The gate was narrow and there were many false prophets.  Know them by their fruits.  The sound tree has good fruits.  Cut down the bad tree.  Seek the kingdom of heaven.  Stay away from evildoers.  Wise men build on a rock foundation, while the foolish ones build on a sand foundation.  The crowds were astonished at the authority of Jesus.

Almsgiving (Mt 6:2-6:2)

“Thus,

Whenever you give alms,

Do not sound a trumpet

Before you,

As the hypocrites do

In the synagogues

And in the streets.

Thus,

They may be praised

By other men.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘They have received

Their reward.’”

 

Ὅταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην, μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου, ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις, ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that carries on with the same theme of not showing off your good righteous actions.  The followers of Jesus were not to give charity or alms (Ὅταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην) with a trumpet blast leading them (μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου).  Apparently, the hypocrites were doing this in the streets and in the synagogues (οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις).  Actually, there is no indication that any Jewish or Christian person ever did this, but certainly there was a strong emphasis on giving charity in late Second Temple Judaism.  This Greek word for hypocrites “οἱ ὑποκριταὶ” originally meant actors or someone who sought praise, while acting deceitfully.  According to Matthew, these hypocrites were usually the enemies of Jesus.  They wanted glory and praise from other men (ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων·) for their good works.  However, Matthew has Jesus give a solemn saying (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) concluding that these men who sought human appeal have already received their reward (ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν).  Charitable giving should be done quietly without any fanfare.

Unusual kindness (Mt 5:40-5:42)

“If anyone wants

To sue you,

If they want

To take your tunic coat,

Give your outer cloak as well!

If anyone forces you

To go one mile,

Go also the second mile!

Give to everyone

Who begs from you!

Do not refuse anyone

Who wants

To borrow

From you!”

 

καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτῶνά σου λαβεῖν, ἄφες αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον·

καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο.

τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός, καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς

 

Once again, these sayings can be found in Luke, chapter 6:29-30, perhaps from the Q source.  Matthew indicates that the followers of Jesus should be kind people.  We might even call these activities unusual acts of kindness.  If someone wished to sue you (καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι), not only should you give him your inner tunic coat (τὸν χιτῶνά σου λαβεῖν), but also your outer cloak as well (ἄφες αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον).  This seems like you would give all the clothes off your back, since most people did not own more than 2 coats.  If someone, probably a Roman soldier, forced you to go a mile with them (καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν), then go with them a second mile (ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο), since Roman soldiers could order people to carry their stuff for only a mile.  If anyone begs from you, give him something (τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός).  If someone wished to borrow money from you, you should not refuse them or turn away from them (καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς).  These were tough difficult recommendations, but actually based on the Torah.  People were expected to give charity and at the same time offer interest free loans.

The blessed rich person (Sir 31:8-31:11)

“Blessed is the rich person

Who is found blameless!

He does not go after gold.

Who is he?

We may praise him.

He has done wonders

Among his people.

Who has been tested by it?

Who has been found perfect?

Let it be for him

A ground for boasting.

Who has had the power

To transgress?

Yet he did not transgress.

Who has the power

To do evil?

Yet he did not do it.

His prosperity will be established.

The assembly will proclaim

His acts of charity.”

A rich person can be blessed, if he is if found blameless by not going after gold. Who is this person? Can we find him, so that we can praise him? He has done wonders among his people. He was tested and found perfect, so that now he can boast. He had the power to commit sins, but he did not. He had the power to do evil, but he did not. His prosperity will be established. The assembly will proclaim his acts of charity. Thus Sirach has found the good rich person.

The admonition of Tobit about almsgiving (Tob 4:7-4:11)

The admonition of Tobit about almsgiving (Tob 4:7-4:11)

“To all those who practice righteousness,

Give alms from your possessions.

Do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it.

Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor.

Then the face of God will not be turned away from you.

If you have many possessions,

Make your gift from them in proportion.

If you have few possessions,

Do not be afraid to give according to the little you have.

So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself

Against the day of necessity.

Almsgiving delivers from death.

Almsgiving keeps you from going into the darkness.

Indeed, almsgiving for all who practice charity

Is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High.”

Tobit wanted his son to give to the poor people who are righteous. He wanted him to give ungrudgingly from his possession. He wanted him to never turn his face away from the poor because then God would never turn his face away from him. His gifts should be proportionate. If he has a lot, give a lot. Otherwise, he should give out of the little that he has. This almsgiving will be a good treasure against death and darkness. He wanted his son to always practice charity as an excellent offering to the Most High God. This is an excellent prayer presentation about helping the poor.