Woe to the rich! (Lk 6:24-6:24)

“But woe to you

Who are rich!

You have received

Your consolation.”

 

Πλὴν οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς πλουσίοις, ὅτι ἀπέχετε τὴν παράκλησιν ὑμῶν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said the rich people should be cursed (Πλὴν οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς πλουσίοις), using the second person plural.  They already had received their consolation, comfort, or happiness (ὅτι ἀπέχετε τὴν παράκλησιν ὑμῶν).  While Matthew had 8 beatitudes about the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the righteous, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted, Luke only had 4.  The blessed or fortunate ones here were the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the. persecuted.  3 of the 4 of these categories are almost the same, but the hungry could only go with those who hunger for righteousness.  Some later 4th century Christian writers, like Ambrose of Milan (337-397), have said that theses 4 beatitudes correspond to the 4 cardinal virtues of temperance, justice, prudence, and fortitude.  However, Luke uniquely has these 4 more woes or curses in which he denounced or called out their bad behavior.  In this particular case, he challenged or criticized the rich people because they already had their consolation.

He will be like Elijah (Lk 1:17-1:17)

“With the spirit

And power

Of Elijah,

He will go

Before the Messiah.

He will turn

The hearts

Of parents

To their children.

He will turn

The disobedient

To the wisdom

Of the righteous.

He will

Make ready

A people

Prepared for the Lord.”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία, ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον.

 

Luke then introduced the concept of Elijah to this new child. The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as in Matthew, chapter 17:11, where the disciples of Jesus asked him why the Scribes said that Elijah the prophet had to come first.  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  Malachi had said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things.  There was no doubt about the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, as in the Elijah cycle in 1 Kings, chapter 17-19.  He dominated late Jewish thought.  In Matthew, Jesus had a clear link of Elijah to John the Baptist, since he was the new Elijah.  Here Luke said that this child would precede or go first before the Lord (καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).  He would have the spirit and the power of Elijah (ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία).  Then he would turn the hearts of parents to their children (ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα), as well as turn the disobedient ones into wise righteous ones (καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων).  He would prepare people to be disposed to get ready for the Lord (ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον), by teaching about repentance and restoring families.  This child was going to be the forerunner for the Messiah, since all the prophets and the law had predicted this right up until the time of this child John.

Physicians go to the sick people (Mk 2:17-2:17)

“When Jesus heard this,

He said to them.

‘Those who are well

Have no need

Of a physician.

But those who are sick

Do need a physician.

I have come

To call

Not the righteous,

But sinners.’”

 

καὶ ἀκούσας ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς Οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες ἰατροῦ ἀλλ’ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες· οὐκ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς.

 

Luke, chapter 5:31-32, and Matthew, chapter 9:12-13, are almost word for word similar to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this saying.  Mark said that Jesus heard (καὶ ἀκούσας ὁ Ἰησοῦς) what the Pharisees were saying to his disciples.  He responded to them (λέγει αὐτοῖς) that the well people or strong ones do not need (Οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες) a physician or medical doctor (ἰατροῦ), but the sick do (ἀλλ’ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες).  As Pope Francis likes to say, the Church is a mobile ambulance, not a hospital waiting for people to come in.  Jesus had come not to call the people who were righteous already (οὐκ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους), but to call the sinners (ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς).

The heavenly Father (Mt 5:45-5:45)

“Thus,

You may be

Sons of your Father

Who is in heaven.

He makes his sun rise

On the evil ones

As well as the good ones.

He sends rain

On the righteous

As well as the unrighteous.”

 

ὅπως γένησθε υἱοὶ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς, ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ἀνατέλλει ἐπὶ πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς καὶ βρέχει ἐπὶ δικαίους καὶ ἀδίκους.

 

Matthew has a consequence for loving your enemies, much like Luke, chapter 6:35.  They would become the children or sons of their heavenly father (ὅπως γένησθε υἱοὶ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς).  Their father in heaven makes the sun rise on both the bad and the good people (ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ἀνατέλλει ἐπὶ πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς).  He also sends rain to both the righteous and the unrighteous (καὶ βρέχει ἐπὶ δικαίους καὶ ἀδίκους).  Clearly God is a powerful paternal person who takes care of both the just and the unjust people.

 

Yahweh’s people (Mal 3:17-3:18)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘They shall be mine.

They shall be

My special possession

On the day

When I act.

I will spare them,

As parents

Spare their children

Who serve them.

Then once more,

You shall see

The difference

Between the righteous

And the wicked,

Between one who serves God

And one who does not serve him.’”

Yahweh of hosts, via Malachi, said that the righteous would be his possession on the day when he acted.  He would spare them, just as parents spare their children.  Then on that day, they would once again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who served God and those who did not.

The righteous live by their faith (Hab 2:4-2:5)

“Look at the proud!

Their spirit is not right

In them.

But the righteous

Live by their faith.

Moreover,

Wealth is treacherous.

The arrogant

Do not endure.

They open

Their throats wide

As in Sheol.

Just like death,

They never have enough.

They gather all nations

For themselves.

They collect

All people

As their own.”

Yahweh warned that these proud people would have a hard time, because their spirit was not right.  The main theme of this simple response was that the righteous live by their faith.  This idea that the righteous live by faith was a strong part of the apostle Paul in his Christian belief.  On the other hand, wealth was treacherous for the greedy.  Thus, the arrogant ones would not endure, because they were more open to the shadowy afterlife of Sheol.  These greedy people never had enough.  Just like death itself, they were always looking for more people.  They had tried to gather all people and countries to themselves as their own, but they were never satisfied.

The cry for justice (Hab 1:2-1:4)

“O Yahweh!

How long

Shall I cry for help?

You will not listen.

I cry to you.

‘Violence!’

You will not save me.

Why do you make me

See wrongdoing?

Why do you make me

Look at trouble?

Destruction is before me.

Violence is before me.

Strife arises

Contention arises.

So,

The law becomes slack.

Justice never prevails.

The wicked surround

The righteous.

Therefore,

Judgment

Comes forth perverted!”

Habakkuk complained to Yahweh that there was no justice in the land.  He wanted to know how long he would have to cry to be heard by Yahweh, since Yahweh did not seem to listen to him.  Habakkuk has cried out about this violence, but there was no one to save him.  Why did he have to see so much wrongdoing and trouble?  There were all kinds of destruction and violence all around him, since his life was full of strife and contention.  The law had become slack, so that justice did not prevail.  The wicked were in fact surrounding the righteous, so that there were only perverted judgments, not true justice from Yahweh.