Endurance (Lk 21:19-21:19)

“By your patient endurance,

You will gain

Your lives.”

 

ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῇ ὑμῶν κτήσεσθε τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that by their patient endurance (ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῇ ὑμῶν), they would gain or acquire (κτήσεσθε) their lives (τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν).  There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:13, and Matthew, chapter 10:22, and chapter 24:13.  Mark indicated that endurance was important.  Jesus said that the one who endured or stayed firm to the end would be saved (ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος, οὗτος σωθήσεται).  Matthew had the same idea in chapter 10:22.  If they were able to be endure to the end (ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος), they would be saved, rescued, or healed (οὗτος σωθήσεται).  Jesus said that the one who endured or stayed firm to the end would be saved (ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος, οὗτος σωθήσεται).  Luke did not use the word saved (σωθήσεται) but gained or acquired (κτήσεσθε) their lives.  Are you good at endurance?

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The third beatitude about the meek or the humble (Mt 5:5-5:5)

“Blessed are

The meek!

They shall inherit the earth.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν.

 

Matthew relied heavily on Psalm 37:11 here, where the psalmist said that they should be patient with Yahweh.  They were not to be angry.  The meek (οἱ πραεῖς), the humble ones, those who wait patiently on Yahweh, their God, would inherit the earth (ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν), the holy land of Israel.  You have to wait a little bit, but the wicked would be no more.  The meek, on the other hand, would inherit the holy land, where they would live in abundant prosperity, if only they waited.  They would be the happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι).

 

Almsgiving (Sir 29:8-29:13)

“Be patient with someone

In humble circumstances.

Do not keep him waiting

For your alms.

Help the poor man

For the commandment’s sake.

In their need,

Do not send them away

Empty-handed.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a brother.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a friend.

Do not let your silver rust

Under a stone.

Do not let your silver be lost.

Lay up your treasure

According to the commandments

Of the Most High.

It will profit you

More than gold.

Store up almsgiving

In your treasury.

It will rescue you

From every disaster.

Better than a stout shield,

Better than a sturdy spear,

It will fight for you

Against the enemy.”

You should be patient with people in humble poor circumstances. You should not make them wait for your almsgiving gift. You are only following the commandments when you give to the poor. You should not send the needy away empty-handed. You should give your silver to a brother or a friend. Do not let your silver rust or get lost under a stone. Circulate money. Your treasure should be in the commandments of the Most High God that are more profitable than gold. Your treasury should be filled with almsgiving, so that it can rescue you from any disaster that might come your way. Almsgiving is better than a strong shield or spear in the fight against your enemy.

The nothingness of humans (Sir 18:8-18:14)

“What are human beings?

What use are they?

What is good about them?

What is evil about them?

The number of days in their life is great,

If they reach one hundred years.

The death of each one

Is beyond the calculation of all.

Like a drop of water from the sea,

Like a grain of sand,

So are these few years

Among the days of eternity.

Therefore the Lord is patient with them.

He pours out his mercy upon them.

He sees them.

He recognizes

That their end is miserable.

Therefore he grants them forgiveness all the more.

The compassion of human beings

Is for their neighbors.

But the compassion of the Lord

Is for every living thing.

He rebukes them.

He trains them.

He teaches them.

He turns them back,

As a shepherd his flock.

He has compassion on those

Who accept his discipline.

He has compassion on those

Who are eager for his precepts.”

Sirach points out that human beings, in contrast to the greatness of God, are useless, like a later 20th century existential 1943 Jean Paul Sartre work, Being and Nothingness. They have a little good and little evil in them, but they have a short unpredictable life, at best 100 years long. Their lives are like a drop of water in the sea or a grain of sand on the shore compared to divine eternity. That is why the Lord is patient and merciful with them. He knows that they will come to a miserable end, so that he grants them forgiveness. While the compassion of humans is for their neighbors, the compassion of the Lord is for all living things. Like a theme later attributed to Jesus, Sirach sees the Lord as a shepherd who rebukes, trains, teaches, and takes his sheep back and forth. The Lord has compassion for those who accept his discipline and precepts.

Take care of your father (Sir 3:10-3:16)

“Do not glorify yourself

By dishonoring your father.

Your father’s dishonor

Is no glory to you.

The glory of one’ father

Is one’s own glory.

It is a disgrace for children

Not to respect their mother.

My child!

Help your father in his old age!

Do not grieve him

As long as he lives.

Even if his mind fails,

Be patient with him!

Because you have all your faculties

Do not despise him!

Kindness to a father

Will not be forgotten.

Kindness to a father

Will be credited to you against yours sins.

In the day of your distress

It will be remembered in your favor.

Like frost in fair weather,

Your sins will melt away.

Whoever forsakes his father

Is like a blasphemer.

Whoever angers his mother

Is cursed by the Lord.”

Continuing the theme of taking care of parents, you should not consider dishonoring your father as a glory to you. It is a disgrace not to honor your mother also. You should help your father in his old age. You should not bother him. Be patient with him, even if his mind fails and you have all your faculties. The kindness to a father will be credited against your sins. When you are in trouble, it will be remembered in your favor. Like frost melting in sunny weather, your sins will melt away. However, if you forsake your father, that is like a blasphemy. If you anger your mother, you will be cursed by God.

Trust the Lord (Sir 2:1-2:6)

“My child!

When you come to serve the Lord,

Prepare yourself for testing!

Set your heart right!

Be steadfast!

Do not be impetuous

In time of calamity!

Cling to him!

Do not depart!

Thus your last days may be prosperous.

Accept whatever befalls you!

In times of humiliation,

Be patient!

Gold is tested in the fire.

Those found acceptable

Are tested in the furnace of humiliation.

Trust in him.

He will help you

Make your ways straight.

Hope in him!”

Here we have a series of admonitions about trusting God. If you want to serve the Lord, you will be tested. You need a good heart. You need to be steadfast. You cannot be hasty in times of trouble. You must cling to the Lord and not depart from him. Then you will have prosperous last days. Accept whatever happens to you. Be patient in times of humiliation. Just as gold is tested in a fire, so are you tested in the furnace of humiliation. You must trust in the Lord. He will help you. You have to make straight your ways. Hope in God! Keep hope alive!

Merciful God (Wis 15:1-15:3)

“But you!

Our God!

You are kind.

You are true.

You are patient.

You rule all things in mercy.

Even if we sin,

We are yours.

We know your power.

But we will not sin.

Because we know

That you acknowledge us as yours.

To know you

Is complete righteousness.

To know your power

Is the root of immortality.”

This author makes a direct appeal to God (ὁ Θεὸς) who is kind (χρηστὸς), true (ἀληθής), and patient (μακρόθυμος). They knew he was merciful (ἐν ἐλέε). Even if they sinned (ἁμάρτωμεν), they knew that they were still his. Knowing God made them righteous (δικαιοσύνη), he gave them the possibility of immortality (ἀθανασίας).