Wise faithful slave (Mt 24:45-24:47)

“Who then is the faithful

And wise slave?

His master

Has put him in charge

Over his household.

He was to give

The other slaves

Their allowance

Of food

At the proper time.

Blessed is that slave

Whom his master

Will find at work

When he arrives.

Truly!

I say to you!

He will put that one

In charge

Of all his possessions.”

 

Τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν ὁ πιστὸς δοῦλος καὶ φρόνιμος ὃν κατέστησεν ὁ κύριος ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκετείας αὐτοῦ τοῦ δοῦναι αὐτοῖς τὴν τροφὴν ἐν καιρῷ;

μακάριος ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος ὃν ἐλθὼν ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ εὑρήσει οὕτως ποιοῦντα·

ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ καταστήσει αὐτόν.

 

There is a similar parable saying about this good slave in Luke, chapter 12:42-44, almost word for word.  Jesus asked who was the faithful and wise slave (Τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν ὁ πιστὸς δοῦλος καὶ φρόνιμος)?  Was he referring to his apostles and disciples?  The master had put this slave in charge over his household slaves (ὃν κατέστησεν ὁ κύριος ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκετείας αὐτοῦ).  He was to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time (τοῦ δοῦναι αὐτοῖς τὴν τροφὴν ἐν καιρῷ).  This slave would be blessed (μακάριος ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος) if this master came and found him at work (ὃν ἐλθὼν ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ εὑρήσει οὕτως ποιοῦντα).  Then in a solemn proclamation (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus said that this hard-working wise slave would be put in charge of all the master’s possessions (ὅτι ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ καταστήσει αὐτόν).  Do a good job and you will get a promotion.

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The unforgiving slave was tortured (Mt 18:32-18:34)

“Then his lord

Summoned him.

He said to him.

‘You wicked slave!

I forgave you

All that debt

Because you pleaded with me.

Should not you

Have had mercy

On your fellow slave,

As I had mercy on you?’

In anger,

His lord handed him over

To be tortured

Until he would pay

His entire debt.”

 

τότε προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτὸν ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ λέγει αὐτῷ Δοῦλε πονηρέ, πᾶσαν τὴν ὀφειλὴν ἐκείνην ἀφῆκά σοι, ἐπεὶ παρεκάλεσάς με·

οὐκ ἔδει καὶ σὲ ἐλεῆσαι τὸν σύνδουλόν σου, ὡς κἀγὼ σὲ ἠλέησα;

καὶ ὀργισθεὶς ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν τοῖς βασανισταῖς ἕως οὗ ἀποδῷ πᾶν τὸ ὀφειλόμενον αὐτῷ.

 

This parable about the unforgiving servant slave is unique to Matthew.  This forgiving lord king summoned his unforgiving slave (τότε προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτὸν ὁ κύριος).  He called him a wicked or evil slave (αὐτοῦ λέγει αὐτῷ Δοῦλε πονηρέ).  The king reminded him that he had forgiven all his debt (πᾶσαν τὴν ὀφειλὴν ἐκείνην ἀφῆκά σοι) because he had begged or pleaded with him (ἐπεὶ παρεκάλεσάς με).  Why did he not show the same mercy to his fellow slave that he had shown to him (οὐκ ἔδει καὶ σὲ ἐλεῆσαι τὸν σύνδουλόν σου, ὡς κἀγὼ σὲ ἠλέησα)?  Then the angry king and lord ordered him handed him over to a torturing jailer (καὶ ὀργισθεὶς ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν τοῖς βασανισταῖς) until he would pay off his entire debt (ἕως οὗ ἀποδῷ πᾶν τὸ ὀφειλόμενον αὐτῷ).  He could never pay off his enormous debt, so that he would be tortured every day of his life instead of originally being sold with all his possessions, as was the original punishment.  He just had too much debt.  With a little mercy, he would have been okay.

The praying to false idols (Wis 13:17-13:19)

“When he prays

About possessions,

His marriage,

His children,

He is not ashamed

To address a lifeless thing.

For health,

He appeals to a thing that is weak.

For life

He prays to a thing that is dead.

For aid

He entreats a thing that is utterly inexperienced.

For a prosperous journey,

He asks a thing that cannot take a step.

For money-making,

For work,

For success with his hands,

He asks strength of a thing

Whose hands have no strength.”

Now what seems ridiculous happens. This carpenter now turns to worship the image that he just created. In fact, he prays (προσευχόμενος) to this image for protection of his possessions, his marriage, and his children. He is not ashamed to speak to this lifeless image that he himself created. The author then points out the incredulity of this picture. The woodcutter prays for health to a weak piece of wood. He prays for life and asks for aid from a dead (νεκρὸν) piece of wood. He asks for help on his journey from something that cannot even walk. He asks for money and success in his work from a weak piece of wood with no strength. The irony is evident.