Second narrative

This second narrative centered around the Sermon on the Mount and the famous so-called Beatitudes.  The first beatitude was about poverty, while the second beatitude was about mourning.  The third beatitude was about the meek or the humble.  The fourth beatitude was about righteousness.  The fifth beatitude was on mercy, while the sixth beatitude was about the pure of heart.  The seventh beatitude was on peacemakers, while the eighth beatitude was on persecution.  There was a grand blessing for the persecuted Christians, who were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  They had to value and become the lighted lamp.

Next came the law and the prophets.  The law with all its commandments remained.  The righteous ones would not murder, nor would they get angry with insults.  They would offer their gifts at the Temple.  They would pay their debts and not commit adultery.  Jesus warned against the sinning eye and the sinning right hand.  He favored the traditional divorce stance, but warned about marrying a divorced woman.  They should not bear false witness, nor swear at all, since they should have a simple speech.  No longer was it an eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek with unusual kindness.  They were to love their enemies and their heavenly Father with a perfect love.

The followers of Jesus should fast and pray.  We should have piety with almsgiving.  Our charity and prayer should be secret with short prayers.  Thus, there was the famous “Our Father” prayer.  The first part of the Lord’s prayer was about God the Father.  The second part of the Lord’s prayer was about our human problems.  We should seek forgiveness and fast in secret.  We should not want earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures.  We need to have a healthy eye because we cannot serve two masters.

We should trust in Providence.  We do not need to worry.  Just look at the birds who do not worry.  The lilies of the field have more beauty than Solomon in all his glory.  Seek the kingdom of heaven first and you will not have to worry about tomorrow.

As far as judgment was concerned, do not judge the speck in the eye of your neighbor.  Be careful with your holy treasures.  Be seekers and give to your sons.  Pray to your heavenly Father and follow the golden rule.  The gate was narrow and there were many false prophets.  Know them by their fruits.  The sound tree has good fruits.  Cut down the bad tree.  Seek the kingdom of heaven.  Stay away from evildoers.  Wise men build on a rock foundation, while the foolish ones build on a sand foundation.  The crowds were astonished at the authority of Jesus.

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Pearls and the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13:45-13:46)

“Again,

The kingdom of heaven is

Like a merchant

In search of fine pearls.

On finding one pearl

Of great value,

He went

And sold

All that he had.

Then he bought it.”

 

Πάλιν ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ἐμπόρῳ ζητοῦντι καλοὺς μαργαρίτας·

εὑρὼν δὲ ἕνα πολύτιμον μαργαρίτην ἀπελθὼν πέπρακεν πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν καὶ ἠγόρασεν αὐτόν.

 

Again, only Matthew has this parable about the pearl merchant and the kingdom of heaven (Πάλιν ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν).  This kingdom was like a precious pearl, like a merchant in search of fine pearls (ἐμπόρῳ ζητοῦντι καλοὺς μαργαρίτας).  If this pearl expert found one precious pearl of great value (εὑρὼν δὲ ἕνα πολύτιμον μαργαρίτην), he would go away and sell all that he had (ἀπελθὼν πέπρακεν πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν).  Then, he would buy this precious pearl (καὶ ἠγόρασεν αὐτόν).  There was also a play on words, since in Jewish society, pearls often meant piety and study of the Torah.  Once again, you would sell everything you had, and give up everything, just so that you can have the great precious pearl of the kingdom of heaven.

Piety (Mt 6:1-6:1)

“Beware!

Of practicing

Your piety

Before other men,

In order to be seen

By them.

Then you will have

No reward

From your Father

In heaven.”

 

Προσέχετε δὲ τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μήγε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ Πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

 

This is a unique saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that begins with a warning (Προσέχετε).  The followers of Jesus were not to practice religious piety or righteousness (δὲ τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν) before other people (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων), in order to be seen by them (πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς).  If you did this pompous action, you were not going to have a reward (εἰ δὲ μήγε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε) from your heavenly father (παρὰ τῷ Πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  Although righteousness and religious piety were good things, Jesus’ disciples were not to parade it before others, because their Father in heaven would not reward them.  The theme of the heavenly Father appears over and over again.

The Spirit of Yahweh (Isa 11:1-11:3)

“A shoot shall come out

From the stump of Jesse.

A branch shall grow out

Of his roots.

The Spirit of Yahweh shall rest upon him,

The spirit of wisdom,

The spirit of understanding,

The spirit of counsel.

The spirit of might,

The spirit of knowledge,

The spirit of piety,

The fear of Yahweh.

His delight shall be

In the fear of Yahweh.”

In this oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, the Spirit of Yahweh, the Lord, will rest upon a future king. This king will have his roots in Jesse, the father of David. Thus the Spirit of Yahweh will rest upon someone in the royal line of David. Thus there was great concern to have Jesus be in the line of David, via Joseph. What is the Spirit of Yahweh? For many Christians, it is what they call the “Holy Spirit.” Thus the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of the Lord are one and the same. Since the early CE centuries, Christians have associated this Spirit of Yahweh with anointing, the laying on of hands, or as the western Christians, since the Middle Ages, like to call it confirmation. Thus this sevenfold gift prayer of the Holy Spirit has been part of the Roman Catholic confirmation ritual. The 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit are then wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. In fact, this almost sounds like the later sapiential literature with its emphasis on wisdom and the fear of God. Thus the Christians, with their anointing or confirmation, see the special gift of the Holy Spirit, as described here in Isaiah, present in their ritual worship service of chrismation or confirmation.

The punishment for keeping the Sabbath (2 Macc 6:11-6:11)

“Others who had assembled in the caves nearby in order to observe the seventh day secretly were betrayed to Philip. They were all burned together, because their piety kept them from defending themselves, in view of their regard for that most holy day.”

This is a reference to an incident that is somewhat the same in 1 Maccabees, chapter 2 about people who would not fight on the Sabbath. There was no indication of Phillip in 1 Maccabees, but the idea is the same, the refusal to fight on the Sabbath. Here they were burned for merely observing the Sabbath, while in the other story they were hiding in the wilderness. Thus we have Jewish martyrs for the cause of the Sabbath.