They brought sick and possessed people to Jesus (Mk 1:32-1:33)

“That evening,

After sunset,

They brought to him

All who were sick

Or possessed

With demons.

The whole city

Was gathered

Around the door.”

 

Ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης, ὅτε ἔδυσεν ὁ ἥλιος, ἔφερον πρὸς αὐτὸν πάντας τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας καὶ τοὺς δαιμονιζομένους·

καὶ ἦν ὅλη ἡ πόλις ἐπισυνηγμένη πρὸς τὴν θύραν.

 

Matthew, chapter 8:16, has something similar, as well as Luke, chapter 4:40.  Neither had any mention of the whole city gathered at his door.  Luke never mentioned possessed people, since he concentrated on the sick only.  Mark said that as evening came (Ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης), after the sunset (ὅτε ἔδυσεν ὁ ἥλιος), they brought to him (ἔφερον πρὸς αὐτὸν) all who had a sickness (πάντας τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας) or were possessed with demons (καὶ τοὺς δαιμονιζομένους).  Mark said that everyone or the whole city (καὶ ἦν ὅλη ἡ πόλις) was gathered around his door (ἐπισυνηγμένη πρὸς τὴν θύραν).  Apparently, during biblical times, there were a lot of people who were possessed by the devil.  Jesus was also a daring faith healer, since many saw the connection between sickness and demonic evil spirit possession.

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Pay the day laborers (Mt 20:8-20:8)

“When evening came,

The owner of the vineyard

Said to his manager.

‘Call the laborers!

Give them their pay!

Begin with the last.

Then go to the first.’”

 

ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης λέγει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ αὐτοῦ Κάλεσον τοὺς ἐργάτας καὶ ἀπόδος τὸν μισθόν, ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἕως τῶν πρώτων.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  When evening came (ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης), the owner or the lord of the vineyard told his manager, steward, or foreman (λέγει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος αὐτοῦ) to call the laborers in (Κάλεσον τοὺς ἐργάτας) from the vineyard.  He was to pay them their day’s pay that day (καὶ ἀπόδος τὸν μισθόν).  Based on the Jewish Mosaic law in Leviticus, chapter 19:13, they were not to keep for themselves the wages of a laborer until the next morning.  The same can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 24:14-15, but with a little more elaboration.  Poor laborers were to get their pay immediately every day before sunset.  Otherwise guilt would come upon the land owner.  There was a sense of justice that people who lived day to day should get their daily pay.  Thus, the manager was to pay the day laborers beginning with the last ones hired and work his way up to the first ones hired (ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἕως τῶν πρώτων).

The Chaldean cavalry (Hab 1:8-1:8)

“Their horses

Are swifter

Than leopards.

They are more menacing

Than evening wolves.

Their horsemen

Come from far away.

They fly

Like an eagle,

Swift to devour.”

The Chaldean horses and riders were extraordinary.  Their horses were quicker than leopards and more menacing than wild wolves at sunset.  The cavalry horsemen came from distant places.  They seemed to fly on their horses like fast eagles ready to devour their prey.

The sun (Sir 43:1-43: 5)

“The pride of the higher realms

Is the clear vault of the sky.

As glorious to behold

As the sight of the heavens.

The sun,

When it appears,

Proclaims as it rises.

What a marvelous instrument!

It is the work of the Most High.

At noon,

It parches the land.

Who can withstand its burning heat?

A man tending a furnace

Works in burning heat.

But the sun scorches the mountains

Three times as hot.

It breathes out fiery vapors.

Its bright rays

Blind the eyes.

Great is the Lord

Who made it!

At his orders

It hurries on its course.”

Sirach points out the beauty and utility of the sun in the sky. The rising sun proclaims what a marvelous instrument it is of the Most High God. We have all seen the beauty of the rising morning sun as it proclaims the glory of God. At noon, the sun parches the land, scorching the mountains with its burning heat. Sirach says that the sun is 3 times as hot as a blast furnace. That may be true for somewhere along the line as sun rays head to earth, but here on earth, it is not quite as hot as a burning fire. However, it is true that its bright rays can blind you if you look right into the sun. Certainly the Lord, who made the sun, is to be glorified, as we see the sun move around the earth until sunset. Oh, oh, it is the earth moving around the sun, and not the other way around. However, it still is a lovely poetic thought of sunrise and sunset.

The hymn to the divine power over the climate (Job 36:24-36:37)

“Remember to extol his work!

Men have sung to his work.

All people have looked on it.

Everyone watches it from far away.

Surely God is great!

We do not know him.

The number of his years is unsearchable.

He draws up the drops of water.

He distils his mist in rain.

The skies pour down rain.

Rain drops upon mortals abundantly.

Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds?

Can anyone understand the thundering of his pavilion?

See!

He scatters his lightning around him.

He covers the roots of the sea.

For by these he judges peoples.

He gives food in abundance.

He covers his hands with the lightning.

He commands it to strike the mark.

Its crashing tells about him.

He is jealous with anger against iniquity.”

Elihu wanted Job to understand and extol the power of God over the climate we live in. Interesting enough I began working on this the day that Pope Francis I issued his encyclical on the climate “Laudato Si.” Yet here, Elihu in his hymn clearly sees God as the controller of the climate. God controls the rain, so that quite often we pray to God for more or less rain. This is especially true in strong farming communities. They also pray for good harvests from the land. We have seen both drought and over flooding this year in the USA. God has control over thunder and lightning as well as the seas.   God is jealous and angry against the wicked. Perhaps we do not pray to God enough about the climate. Just as we have moved from the poetic flat world concept of sunrise and sunset to the earth moving around the sun, so too we might see climate as not the poetic unique concern of God alone, but see the impact of human actions on the climate also.