How much do you owe? (Lk 16:5-16:5)

“Thus,

He summoned

His master’s debtors,

One by one.

He asked the first one.

‘How much do you owe

My master?’”

 

καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα ἕκαστον τῶν χρεοφειλετῶν τοῦ κυρίου ἑαυτοῦ ἔλεγεν τῷ πρώτῳ Πόσον ὀφείλεις τῷ κυρίῳ μου;

 

This parable story about this dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the plan of this fired house manager was to summon each one of his lord’s or master’s debtors (καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα ἕκαστον τῶν χρεοφειλετῶν τοῦ κυρίου ἑαυτοῦ).  He asked the first debtor (ἔλεγεν τῷ πρώτῳ) how much he owed his lord or master (Πόσον ὀφείλεις τῷ κυρίῳ μου).  The plan was simple.  He was going to contact his master’s debtors, those who owed money to his lord.  He wanted to know how much they owed?  However, he should have known this, if he was a good manager.  Do you owe any money to anyone?

John the Baptist (Mt 3:1-3:1)

“In those days,

John the Baptist

Appeared

In the wilderness

Of Judea,

Preaching.”

 

Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας,

 

Matthew now switched to more common material about Jesus and his life. John the Baptist is mentioned in all four canonical gospels. In fact, if anything, Matthew seemed to be following Mark, chapter 1:4, since Mark began his gospel with this story. Matthew began this episode with his trademark transitional phrase, “In those days it happened (Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις).” John the Baptizer (Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς) came preaching (παραγίνεται…κηρύσσων) in the wilderness or desert in Judea (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας). This wilderness was southeast of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea. Apparently, John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE. He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement. Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist. He certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic. According to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1:36, John’s mother and Jesus’ mother were relatives of some sort. Both John and Jesus may have originally been co-workers. However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route. However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles. Some believe that Jesus may have been a follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as subservient to Jesus. Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, as in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6. There may have been some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Thus, John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while. John the Baptist died by beheading, as explained later in this gospel, chapter 14:10. Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

Protestant Latitude

Why is there less discipline among Protestants on certain issues?  The main reason is that they believe in the testimony of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, some Methodists and Episcopalians are divided on the issue of homosexual unions and the role of openly gay ministers.  Lutherans have the Augsburg Confession of 1530 and the Anglicans have their Westminster Confession of 1646.  Otherwise most Protestant denominations do not emphasize dogmatic rectitude, but rather contact with God, Jesus, and the good moral life.

Do not be too confident (Am 6:1-6:3)

“Woe to those

Who are at ease

In Zion!

Woe to those

Who feel secure

On Mount Samaria!

Woe to

The notable men

Of the first

Of the nations,

To whom the house of Israel

Resorts!

Pass over to Calneh!

See!

Go to Hamath the great!

Go down to Gath

Of the Philistines!

Are they better

Than these kingdoms?

Or is your territory

Greater than their territory?

O you!

You put far away

The evil day!

Do you not bring near

A reign of violence?”

Yahweh, via Amos, warned the Israelites in Zion and Samaria not to be at ease, feeling secure, and over confident. They should be aware of the important people that they have had contact with in other countries. They should look at the great commercial centers in Calneh and Hamath in Syria. They should see the Philistine city of Gath. All these kingdoms have more territory and were better off than they were. The Israelites thought that they could put off the evil day, but the reign of violence was getting closer.

The useless sacrifices (Hos 9:4-9:4)

“They shall not pour

Drink offerings

Of wine

To Yahweh.

Their sacrifices

Shall not please him.

Such sacrifices shall be

Like mourners’ bread.

All who eat of it

Shall be defiled.

Their bread

Shall be

For their hunger only.

It shall not come

To the house

Of Yahweh.”

Hosea told them that in their captivity, they will not be able to pour out drink offerings of wine to Yahweh. Their sacrifices would not please God. These sacrifices would be like the defiled bread of mourners who have had contact with the dead. The only reason to eat this bread would be because they were hungry. There will be no more symbolic bread, since they will no longer have contact with the house of Yahweh.

The kitchen for the offerings (Ezek 46:20-46:20)

“He said to me.

‘This is the place

Where the priests

Shall boil

The guilt offering,

As well as the sin offering.

This is where

They shall bake

The grain offering.

Thus,

They will not bring them out

Into the outer court.

If they did,

They would communicate

Holiness

To the people.’”

Ezekiel saw the so-called holy kitchen. The bronze man explained that the priests boiled their guilt and sin offerings here. They also baked the grain offerings here. Thus, they would not bring out these offerings to the outer court. If they brought them out to the outer court, then the people would touch or see these holy offerings. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, did not want the people to come in contact with these holy offerings, less they become holy also.

We are sinners (Isa 64:5-64:7)

“But you were angry.

We sinned!

Because you hid yourself,

We transgressed.

We have all become

Like one who is unclean.

All our righteous deeds are

Like a filthy cloth.

We all fade

Like a leaf.

Our iniquities are

Like the wind.

They take us away.

There is no one

Who calls on your name.

No one attempts

To take hold of you.

You have hidden your face

From us.

You have delivered us

Into the hand of our iniquities.”

Then the prophet proclaimed that he and his people were sinners. Once again, he tried to mitigate this sinfulness by saying that God was angry at them and hid his face. This made it easier to be a transgressor. They all became unclean, so that even their good deeds were like filthy cloths. They faded like a leaf into their iniquities. They were like the wind, blown away. No one called the name of Yahweh or tried to contact him, because Yahweh had hidden his face from them. Once again, in an attempt to avoid responsibility, the prophet said that he was delivered into the hands of iniquity, as if he could not refrain from it.