The good and bad things (Lk 16:25-16:25)

“But Abraham said.

‘Son!

Remember

That during

Your lifetime,

You received

Your good things!

Lazarus,

In like manner,

Received

His evil things.

But now he is

Comforted here.

You are in agony!’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ Ἀβραάμ Τέκνον, μνήσθητι ὅτι ἀπέλαβες τὰ ἀγαθά σου ἐν τῇ ζωῇ σου, καὶ Λάζαρος ὁμοίως τὰ κακά· νῦν δὲ ὧδε παρακαλεῖται σὺ δὲ ὀδυνᾶσαι.

 

This parable story about the poor man Lazarus and an unnamed rich man is only found in Luke, not in the other gospels.  Luke indicated that Jesus remarked that Abraham said (εἶπεν δὲ Ἀβραάμ) to the rich man, calling him son (Τέκνον) that he should remember (μνήσθητι) that during his lifetime he had received good things (ὅτι ἀπέλαβες τὰ ἀγαθά σου ἐν τῇ ζωῇ σου).  Lazarus, however, had received evil things (καὶ Λάζαρος ὁμοίως τὰ κακά).  Thus, now he was being comforted here (νῦν δὲ ὧδε παρακαλεῖται) with Abraham, while he, the rich man, was in agony (σὺ δὲ ὀδυνᾶσαι).  Abraham spoke to the rich man telling him that he had a good time during his lifetime, while Lazarus had not.  Now the tables were turned, Lazarus would live in comfort, but he would be tormented.  This was a clear sign of an afterlife with consequences based on current lifestyles.  Which lifestyle would you prefer?

Binding and loosening (Mt 18:18-18:18)

“Truly!

I say to you!

Whatever you bind

On earth,

Shall be bound

In heaven.

Whatever you loose

On earth

Shall be loosened

In heaven.”

 

Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὅσα ἐὰν δήσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ ὅσα ἐὰν λύσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ.

 

This saying about binding and loosening is unique to Matthew.   Earlier in chapter 16:19, Jesus had given Peter this exact same power, using the exact same words, to bind and loosen on earth with consequences in heaven.  This power of binding and loosening also had been the authority that rabbis had used to forbid or permit things to happen.  In a solemn pronouncement “truly, I say to you!” (Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus granted this authority to bind and loosen to the whole community and not just Peter.  Whatever they bound on earth (ὅσα ἐὰν δήσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) would be bound in heaven (ἔσται δεδεμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Whatever they loosened on earth (καὶ ὅσα ἐὰν λύσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) would be loosened in heaven (ἔσται λελυμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ).

Do not murder (Mt 5:21-5:21)

“You have heard

That it was said

To those in ancient times.

‘You shall not murder!’

Whoever murders

Shall be liable

To judgment.”

 

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις Οὐ φονεύσεις· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει.

 

Next Matthew has Jesus expand on the individual commandments. The first of these was killing or murder. Human life was important, as first outlined in Genesis, chapter 4:1-16, in the Cain and Abel story, as well as in chapter 9:5-6, after the Flood. They already knew this basic commandment, since they had heard what had been told to their ancient ancestors (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). This was the simple commandment not to murder or kill anyone (Οὐ φονεύσεις) from the Ten Commandments in Exodus, chapter 20:13 and Deuteronomy, chapter 5:17, as well as in Exodus, chapter 21:12-17, where there was a section on homicide. There were consequences for anyone who murdered someone else (ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ). They were responsible for their actions. They were liable to be brought to judgment (ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει). This judgment would be before a Jewish court. There were a series of things that had to be done when a murder occurred, as outlined in Deuteronomy, chapter 21:1-9. The law about murder was fairly clear.

Fear of the Lord (Sir 34:14-34:20)

“The spirit of those

Who fear the Lord

Will live.

Their hope is in him

Who saves them.

Those who fear the Lord

Will not be timid.

They will not play the coward.

He is their hope.

Happy is the soul

That fears the Lord!

To whom does he look?

Who is his support?

The eyes of the Lord

Are on those who love him.

The Lord is a mighty shield.

The Lord is a strong support.

The Lord is a shelter

From the scorching wind.

The Lord is a shade

From the noonday sun.

The Lord is a guard

Against stumbling.

The Lord is a help

Against falling.

He lifts up the soul.

He makes the eyes sparkle.

He gives health.

He gives life.

He gives blessings.”

Sirach emphasizes the importance of fearing God with its consequences. Those who fear the Lord will live. They have hope that the Lord will save them. They will not be cowards or timid. The reason for their hope is that the Lord supports them. He loves them since he is like a shield. He provides shelter for them against the hot winds and shade against the hot midday sun. The Lord keeps them from stumbling or falling. He lifts up their souls as he makes their eyes sparkle. He gives them health, life and blessings. A lot of good things happen when you fear the Lord.

The Lord’s actions against pride (Sir 10:13-10:18)

“Therefore the Lord brings upon them

Unheard of calamities.

He destroys them completely.

The Lord overthrows

The thrones of rulers.

He enthrones

The lowly in their place.

The Lord plucks up

The roots of the nations.

He plants the humble

In their place.

The Lord lays waste

The lands of the nations.

He destroys them

To the foundations of the earth.

He removes some of them.

He destroys them.

He erases the memory of them

From the earth.

Pride was not created

For human beings.

Violent anger was not

For those born of women.”

There will be consequences for pride because the Lord will act. The prideful ones will have many afflictions and unheard of calamities. The Lord will destroy them completely. He will overthrow the proud rulers and put humble ones in their place. He will root out nations and have humble ones replace them. He will lay waste to the lands of the proud, destroying them to their foundations. He will remove some and destroy others. Their memory will be erased from this earth. Humans were not created for pride or violent anger.

Self discipline (Prov 30:32-30:33)

“If you have been foolish,

Exalting yourself,

Put your hand on your mouth.

If you have been devising evil,

Put your hand on your mouth.

Pressing milk produces curds.

Pressing the nose produces blood.

Pressing anger produces strife.”

This numerical interlude ends with a warning about being foolish without self discipline. If you tried to exalt yourself, put a hand to your mouth to stop talking. If you have been devising evil, put a hand to your mouth so that evil does not come out of your mouth. Pressing or suppressing things may have evil consequences. If you press milk you end up with curds. If you press your nose, it will bleed. If you press your anger, it will produce strife.

The results of actions (Prov 21:16-21:18)

“Whoever wanders from the way of understanding

Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Whoever loves pleasure

Will be poor.

Whoever loves wine and oil

Will not be rich.

The wicked are a ransom for the righteous.

The faithless are a ransom for the upright.”

If you wander from the way of understanding, you are headed for rest in the assembly of the dead. If you love pleasure, you will be a poor man. If you love wine and oil, you certainly will not be rich. The wicked ones are a ransom for the righteous, while the faithless ones are a ransom for the upright. Actions have consequences.