Pray (Lk 18:1-18:1)

“Then Jesus told them

A parable

About the need

To pray always.

Do not grow weary!”

 

Ἔλεγεν δὲ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ μὴ ἐνκακεῖν,

 

Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the judge to emphasize the importance of prayer.  Right from the beginning, he had Jesus tell them the purpose of the parable, rather than a secret that they would have to figure out.  Then Jesus told them a parable (Ἔλεγεν δὲ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς) about the need or duty to always pray (πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς).  They were not to lose heart or grow weary (καὶ μὴ ἐνκακεῖν).  Do you remember to always pray?

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Zechariah returns home (Lk 1:23-1:23)

“When his time

Of liturgical service

Was completed,

He went

To his home.”

 

καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τῆς λειτουργίας αὐτοῦ, ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke remarked that Zechariah had fulfilled his time or days (καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι) of priestly Levite liturgical service (τῆς λειτουργίας αὐτοῦ) at the Jerusalem Temple.  As his two-week duty was over, he went home (ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ).  There was nothing strange about this.  Obviously, Zechariah did not live at the Temple, since his home was elsewhere.

The secret passionate elders (Dan 13:8-13:12)

“Everyday,

The two elders

Used to see Susanna,

Going in,

Walking about.

They began

To lust for her.

They suppressed

Their consciences.

They turned away

Their eyes

From looking

To heaven,

Or remembering

Their duty

To administer justice.

Both were overwhelmed

With passion for her.

But they did not tell

Each other

Of their distress.

They were ashamed

To disclose

Their lustful desire

To seduce her.

Day after day,

They watched eagerly,

To see her.”

Now the plot thickens. The scene has been set. These two elderly judges have a passion for Susanna, the wife of Joakim, in whose house they conduct their trials. She normally went for a walk in the garden, after everyone had left. These two elders saw Susanna go in and out for her walk. They began to lust after her, as they suppressed their consciences. They forgot about their duty to administer justice, as they turned their eyes away from heaven. Even though they were overwhelmed with passion for Susanna, neither elder told the other, because they were ashamed to let the other one know about their lustful desires to seduce Susanna. They were secret sexual lovers of Susanna, as they watched her every day.

Make your husband happy (Sir 25:23-25:23)

“A dejected mind,

A gloomy face,

And a wounded heart

Come from an evil wife.

Drooping hands,

Weak knees

Come from the wife

Who does not make

Her husband happy.”

Sirach once again shows his disdain for females. He insists that a major duty of a woman in a marriage is to make her husband happy. This evil wife will produce a man with a dejected mind, a gloomy face, and a wounded heart. He will have drooping hands and weak knees because his wife is not making him happy. Again, there does not seem to be any concern about making the wife happy at all.

The Levites and singers (Neh 13:10-13:14)

“I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them. Thus the Levites and the singers, who had conducted the service, had gone back to their fields. So I remonstrated with the officials. I said.

‘Why is the house of God forsaken?’

I gathered them together. I set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses the priest Shelemiah, the scribe Zadok, and Pedaiah of the Levites. I appointed as their assistant Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were counted faithful. Their duty was to distribute to their associates.

‘Remember me,

O my God,

Concerning this.

Do not wipe out my good deeds

That I have done

For the house of my God

And for his service.’”

Next Nehemiah found out that the Levites were not offering praise and singing in the Temple. They had gone back to tending their fields because no one was offering their tithes. Nehemiah then reestablished the tithing. He wanted the services in the Temple reinstituted. He put new people in charge of collecting the tithes and making sure that they got to where they should be. Then he prayed to God to not wipe out the good deeds that he had done for the house of God.

 

Ezra is convinced to do something (Ezra 10:1-10:4)

“While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel. The people wept bitterly. Shecaniah son of Jehiel, of the descendents of Elam, addressed Ezra. ‘We have broken faith with our God. We have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let it be done according to the law. Take action, for it is your duty! We are with you! Be strong and do it!’”

Ezra continued his praying, but a group of people gathered around him. This writing is back at the third person rather than a first person account as earlier. Here it says they were from Israel, but he was in Jerusalem and the Israelites had not returned with him, just the men of Judah. Everyone seemed to be crying. Shecaniah was one of the people who had returned with Ezra as in chapter 8 of this book. He convinced Ezra that he had to do something about this situation. It seemed simple enough. He had a plan. They would send away all their foreign wives and their children. It might be a difficult practical matter, but they wanted to do it according to the Mosaic Law as in Deuteronomy. This was a kind of wake up call to Ezra to get up, stop crying, and do something.