Renounce all things! (Lk 14:33-14:33)

“Therefore,

None of you

Can become

My disciple,

If you do not

Give up

Your possessions.”

 

οὕτως οὖν πᾶς ἐξ ὑμῶν ὃς οὐκ ἀποτάσσεται πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ ὑπάρχουσιν οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής.

 

Once again, this is a stark unique saying of Jesus, only found in Luke.  Jesus said that none of them (οὕτως οὖν πᾶς ἐξ ὑμῶν) could become his disciples (οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής), if they did not give up their possessions (ὃς οὐκ ἀποτάσσεται πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ ὑπάρχουσιν).  Quite clearly, Jesus said that the only people who could be his disciples were those who gave up their possessions, no ifs or buts.  Are you willing to give up all your possessions for Jesus?

Gain the whole world (Lk 9:25-9:25)

“What does it

Profit a man,

If he gains

The whole world,

But loses

Or forfeits himself?”

 

τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖται ἄνθρωπος κερδήσας τὸν κόσμον ὅλον ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἀπολέσας ἢ ζημιωθείς;

 

Luke indicated that Jesus asked what would it profit a man (τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖται ἄνθρωπος), if he gained (κερδήσας) the whole world (τὸν κόσμον ὅλον), but lost, forfeited, or destroyed himself (ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἀπολέσας ἢ ζημιωθείς)?  This famous saying can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 16:26, Mark, chapter 8:36, and here, almost word for word.  Mark indicated that Jesus asked what was the profit or benefit for a person to gain the whole world, if they lost their life or soul?  Jesus asked what would a person give up in exchange for his life or soul?  Matthew also had the question about gaining the whole world.  What is the profit or benefit for a person to gain the whole world, if they lose their life or soul?  What will a person give in exchange for his life or soul?  Give up your life to Jesus, and you will live.  How important is profit or gain in your life?

The call for mercy (Dan 3:10-3:13)

“Now your servants!

We cannot

Open our mouths!

We cannot

Worship you!

We have become

A shame!

We have become

A reproach!

For your name’s sake,

Do not give us up forever!

Do not annul your covenant!

Do not withdraw

Your mercy

From us!

For the sake of Abraham,

Your beloved,

For the sake of Isaac,

Your servant,

For the sake of Israel,

Your holy one,

Do not withdraw

Your mercy!

You promised

To multiply their descendants

Like the stars of heaven,

Like the sand on the shore

Of the sea.”

Azariah made a plea to God to have mercy on him and his friends. They were not able to open their mouths to worship God. They had become a shame and a reproach for the sake of God’s name. He wanted God not to give up on them or annul the covenant that he had made with Israel. He did not want God to withdraw his mercy from them. He reminded God about Abraham, the beloved one, Isaac, his servant, and Israel, the holy one. God had promised to multiply their descendants, like the stars in heaven or like the sand on the sea shore.

 

The sinful confession of the people (Jer 14:7-14:9)

“Although our iniquities testify

Against us,

Act!

Yahweh!

For your name’s sake!

Our apostasies are many.

We have sinned against you.

O hope of Israel!

Its savior in time of trouble!

Why should you be

Like a stranger in the land?

Why should you be

Like a traveler turning aside for the night?

Why should you be

Like someone confused?

Why should you be

Like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?

Yet you!

O Yahweh!

Are in the midst of us!

We are called by your name.

Do not forsake us!”

Here Jeremiah has the people of Judah confessing their sins to Yahweh. They were asking for help in no uncertain terms. Their iniquities and back sliding apostasies were many. They knew that they did not have clean hands. They admitted that they had sinned against Yahweh. However, they were placing their hope in Yahweh during this time of trouble. They wanted to know why God was like a stranger in this own land. Why was he like a traveler who was just looking for a night’s sleep? Why was he, a mighty warrior, not able to help out? Yahweh was there with them, since they are called by his name. They did not want Yahweh to give up on them.

What they should avoid (Jer 7:8-7:11)

“‘Here you are.

You trust in deceptive words to no avail.

Will you steal?

Will you murder?

Will you commit adultery?

Will you swear falsely?

Will you make offerings to Baal?                              

Will you go after other gods

That you have not known?

Then you will come.

You will stand before me

In this house,

That is called by my name.

You will say.

‘We are safe!’

Yet you only go on doing

All these abominations.

Has this house,

That is called by my name,

Become a den of robbers

In your sight?

You know,

I too am watching.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, asks the people if they will really give up their deceptive ways. Are they going to continue to steal, murder, commit adultery, and swear falsely? Were they going to continue to offer sacrifices to the Baal gods? Were they going to continue to run after other gods that they know nothing about? Then why would they come to Yahweh’s Temple and say that they were safe there? While they proclaim their love of Yahweh, they continue to commit all these abominations. They have made his Temple into a den of robbers. Yet Yahweh was watching what was going on.

The intervention of Yahweh (Isa 42:14-42:17)

“For a long time,

I have held my peace.

I have kept still.

I have restrained myself.

Now I will cry out

Like a woman in labor.

I will gasp.

I will pant.

I will lay waste mountains.

I will lay waste hills.

I will dry up all their herbage.

I will turn the rivers into islands.

I will dry up the pools.

I will lead the blind

By a road that they do not know.

I will lead the blind

In paths that they have not known.

I will guide them.

I will turn

The darkness before them into light.

I will turn

The rough places into level ground.

These are the things I will do.

I will not forsake them.

They shall be turned back.

They shall be utterly put to shame.

All those who trust in craved images,

All those who say to cast images,

‘You are our gods.’”

Once again, we have the first person singular, as Yahweh speaks directly in Second Isaiah. Yahweh had been quiet, still, and restrained. Now, however, Yahweh was going to yell out with gasps and pants, like a woman in labor about to give birth. He was going to tear down the mountains and the hills, dry up vegetation and pools, as well as turn rivers into islands. He was going to lead the blind on unknown roads with unlevel ground. He would turn their darkness into light and level the rough ground. He was not going to give up on the blind, perhaps a reference to the Israelites being led blindly in the desert wilderness during the Exodus. However, he was going to shame those who relied on carved and cast images as their gods. This was a strong plea for monotheism among the Israelites.

Invitation to repent (Sir 17:25-17:32)

“Turn back to the Lord!

Forsake your sins!

Pray in his presence!

Lessen your offenses!

Return to the Most High!

Turn away from iniquity!

He will lead you out of darkness

To the light.

Hate intensely

What he abhors!

Who will sing praises

To the Most High

In Hades?

In place of the living,

Who gives thanks?

From the dead,

As from one who does not exist,

Thanksgiving has ceased.

Those who are alive and well

Sing the Lord’s praises.

How great is

The mercy of the Lord!

His forgiveness is

For those who return to him!

Not everything is within human capability.

Since human beings are not immortal.

What is brighter than the sun?

Yet it can be eclipsed.

Flesh and blood devise evil.

He marshals the host of the height of heaven.

But all human beings are dust.

All human beings are ashes.”

Much like the later John the Baptist, Sirach here is calling for all to repent. Turn to the Lord! Give up sinning! Pray to the Lord! Turn to the Most High! Turn away from iniquity! No one can sing the praises of the Lord from Hades, the home of the dead. Only the living can give thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. The Lord is merciful. He will forgive those who return to him. Humans have limited capacities, since they are not immortal. Even the bright sun gets eclipsed. Flesh and blood humans devise evil because they are mere dust and ashes. However, the Lord has his hosts in the high heavens.