The tax collector prayer (Lk 18:13-18:13)

“But the tax collector,

Standing far off,

Would not even

Look up to heaven.

But he was beating

His breast.

Saying.

‘God!

Be merciful to me

A sinner!’”

 

ὁ δὲ τελώνης μακρόθεν ἑστὼς οὐκ ἤθελεν οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπᾶραι εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, ἀλλ’ ἔτυπτεν τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ λέγων Ὁ Θεός, ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ

 

Luke has Jesus continue with this parable about a Pharisee and this tax collector that is only found in this gospel.  Luke indicated that Jesus then turned to the tax collector (ὁ δὲ τελώνης), who was standing far off or a distance away (μακρόθεν ἑστὼς).  He would not even look up or lift his eyes to heaven (οὐκ ἤθελεν οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπᾶραι εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν).  He was beating his breast (ἀλλ’ ἔτυπτεν τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ), a common form of penance.  He prayed to God (λέγων Ὁ Θεός) that God would be merciful to him (ἱλάσθητί μοι) a sinner (τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ).  Instead of thanking God for being good, this tax collector admitted his guilt, not looking up, but striking his breast, asking God to be merciful to him because he was a sinner.  We have two different regular activities, and two different attitudes.  The Pharisee was a better actor in doing the right thing, but had a bad attitude.  The tax collector was not doing the right thing, but had a better attitude.  Are you a good doer or do you have a good attitude?

The prayer of Mary (Lk 1:46-1:46)

“Mary said.

‘My soul

Magnifies

The Lord!’”

 

Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον,

 

Next Luke has a series of canticles or songs.  This first canticle of Mary is modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:1-10, that praised Yahweh. Hannah had prayed for a son.  Thus, she had a semi-miracle son called Samuel.  She wanted him to be dedicated like a Nazirite.  This prayer of Hannah took place after she had dedicated her 3-year-old son to Yahweh.  Thus, Samuel grew up with the prophet Eli.  Hannah and Samuel then became the prototypes for Mary and Jesus.  Luke indicated that Mary said (Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ) that her soul magnified, extended, or enlarged the Lord (ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον).  Thus, this Marian canticle became known as the “Magnificat,” after the Latin translated word used here.

Conclusion: Passion, Resurrection and Great Commission

 

This gospel concluded with the events of the last week of Jesus, a main preoccupation of all four gospels.  Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph.  He held a last supper and prayed to be spared.  He was betrayed by Judas.  Then he was tried by the Jewish leaders and before The roman governor Pontius Pilate.  Jesus was crucified as king of the Jews and mocked by all.  At his death, there was an earthquake, when the veil of the Temple was cut in two, and the saints rose from their tombs.  Mary Magdalene and the other women discovered the empty tomb.  Jesus told them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

There was a plot to kill Jesus.  Jesus spoke to his disciples and gave his fourth prediction about the death of the Son of Man.  Then the chief priests and the elders gathered to plot the arrest of Jesus.  However, before that, there was an anointing by the unnamed women in Bethany as she poured oil on Jesus.  Others wanted to know why she was wasting oil.  Jesus said that she had done a good thing by anointing him for burial.  Thus, she would be remembered.  Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Then they made the preparations for the Passover.  Where would the Passover be?  There was a house for the Passover meal, as the disciples prepared for the Passover evening meal.  Jesus announced the betrayal.  Who would betray Jesus?  This betrayer would be cursed, as Judas spoke out.  At the Last Supper Eucharist, Jesus said that this was his body and blood with eschatological implications.

They went to the Mount of Olives.  Jesus predicted that the apostles would scatter.  He was going to go to Galilee.  Peter said that he would never desert Jesus.  Then Jesus warned Peter about his desertion, but Peter was adamant that he would never deny Jesus.

They went to Gethsemane as Jesus took his three favorite apostles.  He prayed to his Father while these apostles slept.  There was a second prayer of Jesus, as he came a second time to the sleeping apostles.  He prayed a third time.  Then Jesus woke them up.

Judas arrived and kissed Jesus, as they then seized Jesus.  Someone cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.  However, Jesus told them to put their swords away as the disciples fled.

Jesus went before Caiaphas the high priest, while Peter followed Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest.  They were looking for false testimony.  Finally, two witnesses came forward.  The high priest spoke and Jesus responded.  He called the words of Jesus blasphemy, as they mocked Jesus.  Peter’s denied Jesus three time and then he remembered Jesus’ words.

The elders and Pharisees planned to kill Jesus.  They would deliver Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor.  Meanwhile, Judas repented, but he hung himself.  He returned the pieces of silver to the Temple, but it was used to purchase a graveyard called the Field of Blood to fulfill a prophecy of Jeremiah.

Jesus went before Pilate as he asked him if he was the king of the Jews?  However, Jesus did not respond.  The governor was going to release one prisoner at the festival time.  However, the people wanted the prisoner Barabbas rather than Jesus.  Pilate got a warning from his wife.  Nevertheless, the crowd wanted to crucify Jesus.  Pilate claimed that he was innocent of his blood but the crowds said that his blood be on us.  Barabbas was then released.  Jesus went to the governor’s head quarters where the Roman soldiers mocked him.

They prepared Jesus for the crucifixion.  They got Simon of Cyrene to help with the cross as they went to Golgotha.  They divided his garments and wrote on the cross Jesus, King of the Jews.  There were two robbers who derided and and taunted Jesus, just like the Jewish religious leaders had mocked Jesus.

Darkness fell over the land as Jesus died.  The cry of Jesus was interpreted as a call to Elijah.  They gave him sour wine to drink.  Would Elijah save Jesus?  When Jesus died, the Temple curtain was torn in two.  Tombs opened and the dead rose and appeared in Jerusalem.  He truly was  the Son of God.

There were women from Galilee, especially the women called Mary.  Joseph of Arimathea got the body of Jesus and put it in his tomb as the women called Mary were vigilant.  Meanwhile, there was a gathering with Pilate, since the Jewish religious leaders wanted to have the tomb secure.  Thus, a custodial guard was set up at the tomb.

The two Marys visited the tomb, where there was another earthquake with an angel at the tomb.  The guards were afraid, but the angel speaks to the women to tell them to let the disciples know what happened.  The women left the tomb and Jesus appeared to them.  Meanwhile, the guards told the chief priests in Jerusalem what had happened.  These religious leaders paid the guards to tell everyone that someone stole the body of Jesus while they were sleeping.  Thus, this stolen body story spread.

After the resurrection, the remaining eleven disciples returned to an unnamed mountain in Galilee.  There the post-resurrection Jesus gave them authority in heaven and on earth with his great commission:  They were to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them with a Trinitarian formula.  They were to follow his commandments because Jesus would be with them until the end of time.

Jesus prays for a third time (Mt 26:44-26:44)

“So!

Leaving them again,

Jesus went away.

He prayed

For the third time,

Saying the same words.”

 

καὶ ἀφεὶς αὐτοὺς πάλιν ἀπελθὼν προσηύξατο ἐκ τρίτου, τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον εἰπὼν πάλιν.

 

This is unique to Matthew, but implied in Mark, chapter 14.  In Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 22, there was nothing more about these extra prayers of Jesus.  In fact, Matthew even mentioned that after Jesus left them again (καὶ ἀφεὶς αὐτοὺς πάλιν), he prayed for a 3rd time (ἀπελθὼν προσηύξατο ἐκ τρίτου), saying the same words as before (τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον εἰπὼν πάλιν), that sound redundant.  Jesus would follow the will of his Father, so let’s move on.

Second prayer of Jesus (Mt 26:42-26:42)

“Again,

Jesus went away

For the second time.

He prayed.

‘My Father!

If this cannot pass

Unless I drink it,

Your will be done.’”

 

πάλιν ἐκ δευτέρου ἀπελθὼν προσηύξατο λέγων Πάτερ μου, εἰ οὐ δύναται τοῦτο παρελθεῖν ἐὰν μὴ αὐτὸ πίω, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:39, where it is in an abbreviated form.  In Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 22, there is nothing more about these 2nd and 3rd prayers of Jesus.  Again, Jesus went away for a 2nd time (πάλιν ἐκ δευτέρου ἀπελθὼν).  He prayed to his Father (προσηύξατο λέγων Πάτερ μου) once again.  This time he said that if this cannot pass (εἰ οὐ δύναται τοῦτο παρελθεῖν), unless he drank it (ἐὰν μὴ αὐτὸ πίω), then his Father’s will should be done (, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου).  Clearly, Jesus would have preferred not to undergo this great suffering.  However, he subordinated his will to his Father again.

Primitive Christian Communities

The early followers of Jesus were his Jewish apostles and disciples.  They formed a close-knit community.  As they ventured out of Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Jesus, they formed other small groups of Christian communities.  During the first century of Christianity, we often refer to these Christians as the Primitive Christian Communities, not really a church yet, but described in the Acts of the Apostles.  As far as we know, these Jewish followers of Jesus prayed in the Temple and the synagogues.  They shared their stories about Jesus and his followers with other Jewish groups.  Out of this oral community will come the written documents of the New Testament.

 

The confession of sins (Dan 9:4-9:6)

“I prayed

To the Lord!

My God!

I made a confession.

I said.

‘O Lord!

Great God!

Awesome God!

You keep the covenant!

You have a steadfast love

With those

Who love you,

With those

Who keep your commandments!

We have sinned!

We have done wrong!

We have acted wickedly!

We have rebelled!

We have turned away

From your commandments,

From your ordinances!

We have not listened

To your servants,

The prophets,

Who spoke

In your name,

To our kings,

To our princes,

To our ancestors,

To all the people

Of the land.’”

Daniel personally prayed to God with this first-person singular confession of sins. However, he quickly reverted to the first-person plural “we” from the singular “I.” God was great and awesome. He had kept his covenant with a steadfast love to those who loved him and kept his commandments. However, they had sinned and done wrong. They had acted wickedly. They had rebelled and turned away from his commandments and ordinances. They had not listened to their prophets, kings, princes, ancestors, or even the people of the land.