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?

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No party for the older brother (Lk 15:29-15:29)

“But he answered

His father.

‘Listen!

All these years

I have been working

Like a slave

For you.

I never disobeyed

Your command.

Yet you never given me

Even a young goat

So that

I might celebrate

With my friends.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ πατρὶ Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον, καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ

 

This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older son answered his father by saying (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ πατρὶ) that all these years he had been working like a slave or servant for his father (Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι).  He never disobeyed any of his commands (καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον).  Yet his father had never even given him a young goat (καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον) so that he could celebrate with his friends (ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ).  The older son was mad at his father because he had done everything right for many years, but he was never allowed to have any celebrations with his friends.  He had tried to do the right thing, but he was never rewarded for that.  Do you ever feel taken for granted because you always try to do what is right?

 

Which was a neighbor? (Lk 10:36-10:36)

“Which of these three,

Do you think,

Was a neighbor

To the man

Who fell

Among the robbers?”

 

τίς τούτων τῶν τριῶν πλησίον δοκεῖ σοι γεγονέναι τοῦ ἐμπεσόντος εἰς τοὺς λῃστάς;

 

Luke continued his unique story.  Jesus asked the obvious question.  Which one of these three people (τίς τούτων τῶν τριῶν) did he think was a neighbor to this man (πλησίον δοκεῖ σοι γεγονέναιn) who fell among the robbers (τοῦ ἐμπεσόντος εἰς τοὺς λῃστάς)?  Like most of the parables of Jesus, the moral is usually very clear.  This was no exception.  Jesus then asked this lawyer who had asked the question about who his neighbor was, what did he think?  Who did the neighborly thing?  Which one of these 3 individuals, the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan did the right thing?  A neighbor is not a physical presence but an active deed done to someone in need.  Are you a good neighbor?

Susanna cries out (Dan 13:24-13:25)

“Then Susanna cried out

With a loud voice.

The two elders shouted

Against her.

One of them ran.

He opened

The garden doors.”

Susanna did the right thing. She started to scream in a loud voice. The two old judges then shouted against her. One of them ran to open the garden doors. So, it was a standoff, with both sides screaming at each other.

Yahweh controls things (Prov 21:1-21:4)

“The king’s heart is a stream of water

In the hand of Yahweh.

He turns it wherever he will.

All deeds are right

In the sight of the doer.

But Yahweh weighs the heart.

To do righteousness

Is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice.

To do justice

Is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes,

The lamp of the wicked,

Are sins.

A proud heart,

The lamp of the wicked,

Are sins.”

Yahweh has control of humans. Even the heart of a king is like a stream of water in the hand of Yahweh. He controls the heart of the king and turns it into whatever he wants. Most people think that they are doing the right thing, but Yahweh checks out the heart to see if they are truly righteous. To actually be righteous and do justice is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice to Yahweh. Haughty eyes and a proud heart both indicate wickedness. Thus they are both sins.