The widow’s petition (Lk 18:3-18:3)

“In that city,

There was a widow

Who kept coming

To him.

Saying.

‘Grant me justice

Against my opponent!’”

 

χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν λέγουσα Ἐκδίκησόν με ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου.

 

Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the bad judge.  Luke indicated that Jesus said there was a widow in that city (χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ).  She kept coming to this bad judge (καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν).  She said (λέγουσα) that she wanted justice or restitution (Ἐκδίκησόν με) against her opponent or adversary (ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου).  Widows were the powerless and vulnerable in Jewish society, since they had lost the support of their husbands.  People would always be reminded to help the poor and the widows, as they were considered the same class of people, since generally, older women without husbands were poor.  This particular widow had a case against someone, so that she kept coming back to his bad judge to achieve justice or vengeance on her part.  Have you ever sued anyone?

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Mary Magdalene (Lk 8:2-8:2)

“Some women

Who had been cured

Of evil spirits

And infirmities

Were with him also.

Mary,

Called Magdalene,

From whom

Seven demons

Had gone out,

Was with him also.”

 

καὶ γυναῖκές τινες αἳ ἦσαν τεθεραπευμέναι ἀπὸ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν καὶ ἀσθενειῶν, Μαρία ἡ καλουμένη Μαγδαληνή, ἀφ’ ἧς δαιμόνια ἑπτὰ ἐξεληλύθει,

 

Luke uniquely said that some women (καὶ γυναῖκές), who had been cured of evil spirits (τινες αἳ ἦσαν τεθεραπευμέναι ἀπὸ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν) and other infirmities (καὶ ἀσθενειῶν), were with him also.  Mary (Μαρία), called Magdalene (ἡ καλουμένη Μαγδαληνή), from whom 7 demons had departed (ἀφ’ ἧς δαιμόνια ἑπτὰ ἐξεληλύθει) was with him also.  This Mary Magdalene, who traveled with Jesus as one of his followers, probably came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.  She was explicitly mentioned by name 12 times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the other apostles, indicating her importance.  She certainly was a key figure in the gospel stories about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus apparently healed her in some way that is not indicated, since Luke said that 7 demons had been driven out of her, a statement that Mark, chapter 16:9, also said.  She helped support Jesus’ ministry, indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy.  This Mary was a central figure in later apocryphal Gnostic Christian writings.  She had a very popular following in the Middle Ages as the repentant woman.  In the late 20th century, she became more popular with her role in the play of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Super Star” (1971) and Dan Brown’s novel and movie “Da Vinci Code” (2003 and 2006).  What do you think about Mary Magdalene?

Love your enemies! (Lk 6:35-6:35)

“But love your enemies!

Do good!

Lend!

Expect nothing

In return!

Your reward

Will be great!

You will be

Children

Of the Most-High!”

 

πλὴν ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ ἀγαθοποιεῖτε καὶ δανίζετε μηδὲν ἀπελπίζοντες· καὶ ἔσται ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολύς, καὶ ἔσεσθε υἱοὶ Ὑψίστου,

 

Matthew, chapter 5:44 was more forceful when Jesus said that they were to love their enemies (ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν) and even pray for those who were persecuting them.  Here Luke indicated that Jesus said that they were to love their enemies (πλὴν ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν), as in Matthew.  However, they were to do good (καὶ ἀγαθοποιεῖτε).  They were expected to lend to others (καὶ δανίζετε), expecting nothing in return (μηδὲν ἀπελπίζοντες).  This was based on Exodus, chapter 22:25 that if they lent money, they should not charge interest to the poor.  Leviticus, chapter 25:27, said that if any of their relatives fall into difficulties and become dependent on them, they should support them as though they were resident aliens.  They were not to take interest or profit from them while they are living and eating in their house.  Yahweh would provide.  Their reward would be great (καὶ ἔσται ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολύς) because they would be children of the Most-High God (καὶ ἔσεσθε υἱοὶ Ὑψίστου).  Have you ever lent money to relatives?

Forget about your parents (Mk 7:11-7:12)

“But you say.

‘If anyone tells father

Or mother,

‘Whatever support

You might have had

From me

Is Corban.’

That is

An offering to God.

Then you no longer permit

Doing anything

For a father

Or a mother.”

 

ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε Ἐὰν εἴπῃ ἄνθρωπος τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί Κορβᾶν, ὅ ἐστιν Δῶρον, ὃ ἐὰν ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῇς,

οὐκέτι ἀφίετε αὐτὸν οὐδὲν ποιῆσαι τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί,

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:5.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the Pharisees said (ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε) that any person could tell his father or mother (Ἐὰν εἴπῃ ἄνθρωπος τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί) that it is a “Corban (Κορβᾶν).”  This “Corban” was a Temple offering to God that their parents could not profit from it (Δῶρον ὃ ἐὰν ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῇς).  Then Jesus explained that this “Corban” would no longer permit them to do anything for their father or mother (οὐκέτι ἀφίετε αὐτὸν οὐδὲν ποιῆσαι τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί).  Therefore, they would only offer gifts to God and not their parents.  Sometimes people did not give their promised temple gift or “Corban” until just before death, but still never give anything to their parents.

The loss of many people at Jerusalem (Isa 3:1-3:3)

“Now

The Sovereign,

Yahweh of hosts,

Takes away from Jerusalem

Support.

He takes away from Judah

Staff.

He takes away

All support of bread.

He takes away

All support of water.

He takes away

The warrior,

The soldier,

The judge,

The prophet,

The diviner,

The elder,

The captain of fifty,

The dignitaries,

The counselor,

The skilful magician,

And the expert charmer.”

Isaiah talks about the day when Jerusalem will lose many of its people. Yahweh will take away from Jerusalem and Judah all its support and staff, as well as its bread and water. He will take away all the important people of Jerusalem. Thus Yahweh will remove the warriors, the soldiers, the judges, the prophets, the elders, the captains of the fifty, the counselors, and the dignitaries. Interesting enough, there must have been some of those dreaded people like the diviners, the skilful magicians, and the expert charmers, since he was going to remove them also.

The choice of a wife (Sir 36:26-36:31)

“A woman

Will accept any man

As a husband.

But one girl

Is preferable to another.

A woman’s beauty

Lights up a man’s face.

There is nothing

He desires more.

If kindness marks her speech,

If humility marks her speech,

Her husband is more fortunate

Than other men.

He who acquires a wife

Gets his best possession.

She is a helper

Fit for him.

She is a pillar of support.

Where there is no fence,

The property will be plundered.

Where there is no wife,

A man will become a fugitive.

He will be a wanderer.

Who will trust a nimble robber?

He skips from city to city.

Who will trust a man

That has no nest?

He lodges

Wherever night overtakes him.”

Sirach seems to think that women do not care who they marry. However, a man should marry a beautiful woman, because it will light up his face. Then he will not desire anything more. If she is kind and humble in her speech, he will be more fortunate than many other men. She will help him and be a support to him. There is no doubt that a man’s best possession is his wife. Clearly, she is a step above a slave as a possession. It is also a good idea for a man to have a wife because she can act like a fence around him. If he is not married, he will wander around from city to city, like a fugitive. People will think that he is a robber, since he has no home. He will not be trusted because he stays wherever he is when night time comes. Marriage added stability to a community.

Do not depend on your wife (Sir 25:21-25:22)

“Do not be ensnared

By a woman’s beauty!

Do not desire a woman

For her possessions!

There is wrath

When a wife

Supports her husband.

There is impudence

When a wife

Supports her husband.

There is a great disgrace

When a wife

Supports her husband.”

You should not be trapped by a woman’s beauty. You should not desire any woman for her possessions or dowry. Now in something that might seem strange today with stay at home dads, Sirach condemns this behavior. A wife should not support her husband, because that is a rage, disrespectful, and a great disgrace, pure and simple. Of course, that was the common attitude in a male dominated society.