Not serve two masters (Lk 16:13-16:13)

“No household servant

Can serve

Two masters!

A servant

Will hate

The one.

He will love

The other.

He will be devoted

To the one.

He will despise

The other.

You cannot serve

God

And wealth.”

 

Οὐδεὶς οἰκέτης δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν· ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει. οὐ δύνασθε Θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that no household servant (Οὐδεὶς οἰκέτης) is able to serve 2 masters or lords (δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν).  This household servant will hate one (ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει) and love the other (καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει).  He will be devoted to one (ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται) and despise the other (καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει).  They cannot serve (οὐ δύνασθε… δουλεύειν) both God (Θεῷ) and wealth (καὶ μαμωνᾷ).  This μαμωνᾷ referred to an old Semitic word for treasures.  It is often translated as “mammon,” but means wealth, riches, money, or possessions.  This saying of Jesus can also be found in Matthew, chapter 6:24, almost word for word, perhaps indicating a common Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that no one was able to slavishly serve two masters or lords (Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν).  The word κυρίοις was used for lord, as in Luke.  You will hate one (ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει) and love the other (καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει).  You will be devoted to one (ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται) and despise the other one (καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει).  Therefore, the conclusion was that you could not slavishly serve both God (οὐ δύνασθε Θεῷ δουλεύειν) and money or wealth (καὶ μαμωνᾷ).  The choice was yours.  The options were clear.  You cannot serve both.  Would you serve God or wealth?

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The fool (Lk 12:20-12:20)

“But God said to him.

‘Fool!

This very night

Your life

Is being demanded

Of you.

The things

You have prepared,

Whose will they be?’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Θεός Ἄφρων, ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ τὴν ψυχήν σου ἀπαιτοῦσιν ἀπὸ σοῦ· ἃ δὲ ἡτοίμασας, τίνι ἔσται;

 

Luke uniquely continued with this story as Jesus indicated that God said to this rich land owner (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Θεός) that he was a fool, calling him that (Ἄφρων).  A fool was a harsh title, meaning that someone who had no concern for God.  That very night (ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ), God would demand or require the soul or the life of this rich fool (τὴν ψυχήν σου ἀπαιτοῦσιν ἀπὸ σοῦ).  Who would get all the things that he had prepared (ἃ δὲ ἡτοίμασας, τίνι ἔσται)?  The best laid plans of men and mice often go astray.  Instead of enjoying his long indulgent luxurious life, this rich man was about to die.  Then the question remained, who would enjoy all the riches that he had attained?  Death is the only certainty in life.  The only question is when?  Work as if you were going to live forever, but live your life and pray as if you are going to die tonight.  Time’s up!  When do you anticipate your death?

The seeds among the thorns choked (Lk 8:14-8:14)

“As for what fell

Among the thorns,

They are the ones

Who hear.

But as they go

On their way,

They are choked

By the cares,

By the riches,

And by the pleasures

Of life.

Their fruit

Does not mature.”

 

τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες, καὶ ὑπὸ μεριμνῶν καὶ πλούτου καὶ ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου πορευόμενοι συνπνίγονται καὶ οὐ τελεσφοροῦσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that those seeds that fell among the thorns (τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν) were like the ones who hear the word (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες), but as they go on their way (πορευόμενοι), they are choked or crowded out (συνπνίγονται) by the cares (καὶ ὑπὸ μεριμνῶν), the riches (καὶ πλούτου), and the pleasures of life (καὶ ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου).  Their fruit does not mature (καὶ οὐ τελεσφοροῦσιν).  This explanation about the seeds among the thorns can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:18-19, Matthew, chapter 13:22, and here, with Matthew closer to Mark.  Both Matthew and Mark said that the seeds sown among the thorns were the ones who heard the words of the kingdom, but the cares and anxiety of this present age, as well as the allure or deceit of material wealth, choked or crowded out the words.  Thus, it yielded nothing, because it was barren.  The thorns were the cares about physical riches that choked off the growth of the seeds or the words of the kingdom.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.  There had to be follow up or acting out on the word for it to mature into a full mature faith belief in Jesus Christ.  Have the seeds of the word of God matured in you?

It is hard to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:24-10:24)

“The disciples

Were perplexed

At his words.

But Jesus

Answered them again.

‘Children!

How hard it is

For those who trust

In riches

To enter

The kingdom of God!’”

 

οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς Τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν·

 

This unique saying of Mark is really the repetition of what was said in the previous verse, a redundancy, to drive home a point.  Mark indicated how difficult it would be for rich people to get into the kingdom of God.  Mark said that the disciples were perplexed or amazed at his words (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ.).  However, Jesus responded or answered his disciples again (δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς), calling them children (λέγει αὐτοῖς Τέκνα,), not understanding what was being said.  He indicated once again how hard it was for those who trusted in riches or wealth to enter the kingdom of God (πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐπὶ χρήμασιν).  Mark had Jesus repeat things because the disciples were not that sharp.  Quite often wealth had been seen as a sign that God was pleased with that person.

 

The sinking of everything (Ezek 27:26-27:27)

“Your rowers

Have brought you

Into the high seas.

The east wind

Has wrecked you

In the heart

Of the seas.

Your riches,

Your wares,

Your merchandise,

Your mariners

Your pilots,

Your caulkers,

Your dealers

In merchandise,

All your warriors

Within you,

With all your company

That is with you,

Sink

Into the heart

Of the seas

On the day

Of your ruin.”

The rowers of the Tyre ships brought them into the high seas. The east wind then wrecked them in the heart of the sea. All their riches, goods, and merchandise sank. Their sailors, pilots, caulk workers, trade merchant dealers, their warriors, and all their company would sink into the heart of the sea on the day of their ruin. Tyre, its ships, its people, and all its goods would sink into the choppy Mediterranean Sea.

Oracle on the desert animals (Isa 30:6-30:7)

“An oracle concerning

The animals of the Negeb.

Through a land

Of trouble,

Of distress,

Of the lioness.

Of the roaring lion,

Of the viper,

Of the flying serpent,

They carry their riches

On the backs of donkeys.

They carry their treasures

On the humps of camels,

To a people

That cannot profit them.

Egypt’s help is worthless.

Their help is empty.

Therefore I have called her

‘Rahab who sits still.’”

This seems to be an oracle by Yahweh about the animals in the Negeb desert, south of Israel. The messengers of the King of Judah were going to pass by these animals as they went with their riches on the backs of donkeys and treasures on the camel humps on their way to Egypt. Along the way, they would suffer trouble and distress. They would see many animals, like lioness, lions, vipers, and flying serpents. However, Isaiah says that their mission was worthless and empty. It was a waste of time since the Egyptians could not help them. In fact, Isaiah calls Egypt a useless sitting still ‘Rahab,’ a mythological sea monster like the Leviathan monster.

Fear of the Lord (Sir 40:26-40:27)

“Riches build up confidence.

Strength builds up confidence.

But the fear of the Lord is

Better than either.

There is no want

In the fear of the Lord.

With it,

There is no need

To seek for help.

The fear of the Lord is

Like a garden of blessings.

It covers a person

Better than any glory.”

Once again, Sirach continues with his comparisons. However, this time, the best is the fear of the Lord. Riches and strength might make you feel confident. Yet the fear of the Lord is better than money and power in developing your self-confidence. When you fear the Lord, you will not have any need to seek help from anyone or anything. The fear of the Lord is like a garden of blessings that covers you better than any glory can.