Stay at Zacchaeus’ house (Lk 19:5-19:5)

“When Jesus

Came to this place,

He looked up.

He said to him.

‘Zacchaeus!

Hurry!

Come down!

I must stay

At your house today!’”

 

καὶ ὡς ἦλθεν ἐπὶ τὸν τόπον, ἀναβλέψας ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν Ζακχαῖε, σπεύσας κατάβηθι· σήμερον γὰρ ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ σου δεῖ με μεῖναι.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that when Jesus came to this place (καὶ ὡς ἦλθεν ἐπὶ τὸν τόπον), he looked up (ἀναβλέψας ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  Then, he called Zacchaeus by name (Ζακχαῖε).  Jesus told him (ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν) to quickly come down from the tree (σπεύσας κατάβηθι·), because today it was necessary or proper for Jesus to stay at his house (σήμερον γὰρ ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ σου δεῖ με μεῖναι).  How did Jesus know his name?  Had they met each other before?  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  Would you stay at the house of a stranger?

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The Levite passed by (Lk 10:32-10:32)

“Thus,

Likewise

A Levite,

When he came

To the place

Saw him.

He passed by

On the other side.”

 

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν

 

Luke continued his unique story.  Jesus said that a Levite also (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης) came to this same place (κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν) on the road.  He saw the wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν).  Then he too crossed over to the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν), so as not to engage with this man.  The same questions can be asked of this Jewish Levite that were asked about the priest.  Was it because of ritual purity?  Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop?  Did he simply not care?  Was it too much of a bother?  Normally, the Levites do not come in for much criticism in the gospel narratives.  Levites were sons of Levi, and tied to ritualistic practice at the Temple.  For instance, the father of John the Baptist was Zechariah and his mother Elizabeth, both of them were descendants of Aaron.  Zechariah was a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, while Elizabeth was from a Levite family.  These Levites had Temple duties.  Thus, they were religious ritual leaders in the Jewish community.  Both the priest and the Levite represented the upper religious strata of the Jewish community.  Do you think that religious leaders should set an example by their lifestyle?

The priest went by (Lk 10:31-10:31)

“Now by chance,

A priest

Was going down

That road.

When he saw him,

He passed by

On the other side.”

 

κατὰ συγκυρίαν δὲ ἱερεύς τις κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν.

 

Luke uniquely continued this story or parable about who is my neighbor.  Jesus said that by chance (κατὰ συγκυρίαν), a certain Jewish priest (δὲ ἱερεύς τις) was going down (κατέβαινεν) this same road (ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ).  He saw the badly wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν), but he passed by on the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν).  There is a lot of speculation on why this priest did not help this man.  Was it because of ritual purity?  Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop?  Did he simply not care?  Was it too much of a bother?  Certainly, a Jewish priest had standing in the Jewish community.  Other than the high priest, he represented the most important level of Jewish society.  What is certain is that this high-ranking religious leader did not engage in any way with the afflicted man on the other side of the road.  He clearly saw him, as he specifically crossed over to the other side, so as not to be bothered by him.  The ritual purity argument has been raised since a priest could not touch a corpse.  However, there was no mention of a dead body.  Do you always have an excuse on why you do not help other wounded people?

Leaving Babylon (Isa 52:11-52:12)

“Depart!

Depart!

Go out from there!

Touch no unclean thing!

Go out from the midst of it!

Purify yourselves!

You who carry

The vessels of Yahweh!

You shall not go out in haste.

You shall not go in flight.

Yahweh will go before you.

The God of Israel

Will be your rear guard.”

Second Isaiah wants the Israelites to depart from Babylon. However, they were not to touch any unclean things. They were to purify themselves, especially if they were going to carry the sacred vessels of Yahweh. They were not to leave in a hurry or flee Babylon. Yahweh would be before them, and at the same time, the God of Israel would be their rear guard.

Relax (Sir 11:10-11:11)

“My child!

Do not busy yourself

With many matters!

If you multiply activities,

You will not be held blameless.

If you pursue,

You will not overtake.

By fleeing,

You will not escape.

There are those

Who work,

Who struggle,

Who hurry,

But they are

So much the more in want.”

Sirach has some advice for those who are busy, relax! Do not be busy with lots of things. If you try to overtake someone, you probably will not. If you try to escape, you probably will not. Just look at those who are working so hard. They are struggling. They are in a hurry. However, if you look at them, they are still needy. Much hard work does not guarantee success.

The selfish misers (Prov 28:21-28:28)

“To show partiality is not good.

Yet for a piece of bread

A person may do wrong.

A miser is in a hurry to get rich.

He does not know that loss is sure to come.

Whoever rebukes a person,

Will afterward find more favor

Than one who flatters with the tongue.

Anyone who robs his father or his mother

While saying,

‘That is no crime,’

Is partner to a thug.

The greedy person stirs up strife.

But whoever trusts in Yahweh

Will be enriched.

Those who trust in their own wits are fools.

But those who walk in wisdom

Come through safely.

Whoever gives to the poor

Will lack nothing.

But one who turns a blind eye

Will get many a curse.

When the wicked prevail,

People go into hiding.

But when the wicked perish,

The righteous increase.”

You should not show partiality in judging others. Sometimes people will do wrong things just for a piece of bread. The misers will hurry to gain wealth but they will lose it in the end. It is better to rebuke people than to flatter them. Anyone who robs his mother or father, and then says that it is not a crime, is already the companion of a common thief. The greedy misers are always stirring up strife and trouble. If you trust in your own wits, you are a fool. Those who walk in wisdom come out safe. If you give to the poor, you will not lack anything. However, if you turn a blind eye to the poor, you will be cursed. Then this section ends with a repeat of what was said earlier in this chapter about when the wicked prevail, then people go into hiding. When the wicked perish, then the righteous increase.

A faithful man (Prov 28:18-28:20)

“Whoever walks in integrity

Will be safe.

But whoever follows crooked ways will fall into the pit.

Anyone who tills his land

Will have plenty of bread.

But one who follows worthless pursuits

Will have plenty of poverty.

The faithful will abound with blessings.

But whoever is in a hurry to be rich

Will not go unpunished.”

If you walk in integrity, you will be safe. However, if you follow the crooked ways, you will fall into the pit of death. Then repeating a phrase from chapter 12, if you till the land you will have plenty of bread. On the other hand, if you pursue worthless pursuits, you will end up with plenty of poverty. The faithful will have many blessings, but those who are in a hurry to become rich will not go unpunished.