Depart in peace (Lk 2:29-2:29)

“Simeon said.

‘Lord!

Now you may

Dismiss

Your slave

In peace,

According to your word.’”

 

καὶ εἶπεν

Νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου, Δέσποτα, κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου ἐν εἰρήνῃ·

 

Luke had Simeon present the so-called “Nunc dimittis” canticle, named after the Latin translation of the first few words.  Simeon said (καὶ εἶπεν) that the Lord or Master could now dismiss his servant or slave (Νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου) in peace (ἐν εἰρήνῃ), according to the word of God (κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου).  Simeon indicated that he was ready to die.  He could be dismissed because his wish had been granted.  Basically, this canticle talks continuously about the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah.

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The possible divorce (Mt 1:19-1:19)

“Her husband,

Joseph,

Was a righteous man.

He was unwilling

To expose her

To public disgrace.

He planned

To dismiss her

Quietly.”

 

Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν.

 

Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ), Mary’s husband (ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς), was a righteous man (δίκαιος ὢν). Being a just person was an important theme of the Old Testament, so that it appears quite often in Matthew. Joseph did not want (μὴ θέλων) to expose Mary (αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι) to any public disgrace (δειγματίσαι) because of her pregnancy. Thus, he purposed (ἐβουλήθη) to send her away (ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν), dismiss her, or divorce her quietly (λάθρᾳ). He thought that he was getting damaged goods. However, he wanted to get rid of or divorce Mary quietly without any big to-do.

The Bible narrative story

There is a narrative quality to the Bible.  We have to appreciate truth in the story, because stories express truth.  We tend to dismiss things as just a story.  Even with modern technology, the Internet. YouTube, and Facebook are full of stories.  Scientific facts are not poetry and thus they have different rules.  The story world helps us understand our real world.  We would not have a real world without language and story.  Non-literate societies emphasized oral story as very important.  Even today, whether it is television or movies, we love a good story.  In the 1997 movie “Titanic” the story was simple, the ship sunk.  However, the love story of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet drew us in and made us feel the whole story.  Historical novels are very popular as a means of understanding the past historical times.

Money and wives (Sir 7:18-7:19)

“Do not exchange a friend for money.

Do not exchange a real brother for the gold of Ophir.

Do not dismiss a wise wife.

Do not dismiss a good wife.

Her charm is worth more than gold.”

Continuing with these sayings of Sirach, you should not exchange a friend for money. Neither should you get rid of your brother for the special gold from Ophir, the great gold mining place. You should not dismiss a wise, good, or charming wife because she is worth more than gold. This seems to indicate it might be all right to get rid of an unwise or bad wife.

The second son is brought forward to be mutilated (2 Macc 7:7-7:9)

“After the first brother had died in this way, they brought forward the second for their sport. They tore off the skin of his head with the hair. They asked him.

‘Will you eat rather than have your body punished limb by limb?

He replied in the language of his ancestors.

He said to them.

‘No.’

Therefore he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done. When he was at his last breath, he said.

‘You accursed wretch,

You dismiss us from this present life.

But the King of the universe will raise us up

To an everlasting renewal of life,

Because we have died for his laws.’”

After the 1st brother had died, they took a 2nd brother and scalped him. Then they asked him if he would eat the pork food or be punished limb by limb. He responded with an emphatic no. Thus he suffered the same tortures as his other brother. With his last breath he warned them that they could dismiss him from this present life, but the King of the universe would raise him up to everlasting life because he had died for the law. It is interesting to note that God is the king of the universe, not merely the God of his ancestors. He also expects an eternal afterlife.

Jonathan and Trypho meet (1 Macc 12:41-12:45)

“Jonathan went out to meet Trypho with forty thousand picked warriors. He came to Beth-shan. When Trypho saw that he had come with a large army, he was afraid to raise his hand against him. So he received him with honor and commended him to all his friends. He gave him gifts. He commanded his friends and his troops to obey him as they would himself. Then he said to Jonathan.

‘Why have you put all these people

To such trouble

When we are not at war?

Dismiss them now to their homes.

Choose for yourself a few men to stay with you.

Come with me to Ptolemais.

I will hand it over to you

As well as the other strongholds

And the remaining troops

And all the officials.

I will turn around and go home.

That is why I am here.’”

Jonathan now had a large force of 40,000 warriors. When he met Trypho at Beth-shan, Trypho was actually afraid. He did not want to fight such a large army. Instead, he said that he wanted to honor Jonathan as he gave him gifts. He told his whole army to listen and obey whatever Jonathan said. He wanted Jonathan to take a few troops to Ptolemais, where he would give him that city. He told Jonathan to dismiss most of his troops since they were not needed. They were not at war. He was going to hand everything over to Jonathan so that he could go home. He said that was the reason that he had come to this place. It is hard to tell whether Jonathan believed him or not, but we shall see.