Third narrative

This third narrative centered around a variety of miracles and various comments to his disciples.  Jesus cured the leper before great crowds, but then told him to keep it a secret.  Then he cured the centurion’s paralyzed servant at Capernaum.  This Roman soldier understood the role of authority since he had faith.  Jesus chastised the failure of the sons of Abraham but healed the Roman centurion’s servant.

Jesus also cured other sick and possessed people, including Peter’s mother-in-law.  He thus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.  He had some scribe followers, even though Jesus was homeless.  Was the death of a father enough to disrupt a disciple?  During a stormy boat ride, they woke up Jesus.  Thus, he responded by showing them his power by calming the storm.

Jesus cured the two possessed demoniacs who were calling out to him as the Son of God.  These demons wanted to be pigs, so that they died in the sea, jumping off a cliff.  However, the herdsmen in the city were upset so that the people asked Jesus to leave.

Jesus then went home and cured a paralytic.  Did Jesus blaspheme?  What was the difference between sin and sickness?  The people were amazed at his powers.  Jesus then called Matthew, the tax collector.  Jesus hung out with these tax collectors and sinners, so that the Pharisees complained.  Jesus responded by asking if well people needed doctors?  Then there was a citation from Hosea about mercy.

The Pharisees wanted to know why his disciples were not fasting, but the disciples of John the Baptist were.  Jesus explained that there would be no fasting while he, the bridegroom, was present.  You did not use old cloth to mend clothes or put new wine in old wineskins.

Then Jesus cured the woman with hemorrhages, because she was a woman of faith.  Then he cured the dead girl who was only sleeping.  He cured the two blind men because they were believers also.  He cured the mute person so that he could speak again.  The Pharisees questioned the power of Jesus.  However, Jesus had compassion for the sheep because there would be a need for many laborers at the harvest time.

Then Jesus began his apostolic talk to his disciples, in particular about the authority of the twelve disciples, with four major apostles.  Matthew then listed the twelve apostles that would be sent to the Jews and what their work was.  Jesus told them what to bring with them and where to stay.  He told them how to enter a house.  Those unhospitable towns who did not accept them would be punished.  These apostles should be like wise simple sheep.  When they would be persecuted, the Holy Spirit would speak through them.  They would be involved in family disputes and hated.  Both the teacher and his disciples would suffer, but they should not be afraid.  They should proclaim the message.  They were to worry about their souls, since they had more value than sparrows.  They should acknowledge Jesus whether in peace or with the sword.  Who was worthy of Jesus?  You had to pick up your cross and lose your life to find it.  Receive Jesus and be a prophet as the righteous disciple of Jesus.

The failure of Jerusalem (Jer 6:16-6:19)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Stand at the crossroads!

Look!

Ask for the ancient paths!

Where does the good way lie?

Walk in it!

Find rest for your souls!’

But they said.

‘We will not walk in it.’

I raised up sentinels for you.

Saying.

‘Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!’

But they said.

‘We will not give heed.’

‘Therefore hear!

O nations!

Know!

O congregation!

What will happen to them?

Hear!

O earth!

I am going to bring disaster

On this people.

This is the fruit of their schemes.

Because they have not given heed

To my words.

As for my teaching,

They have rejected it.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, explains the failure of the people of Jerusalem. He wanted them to follow and walk on the ancient path of the good way, where they would find rest for their souls. However, they responded that they would not walk down this path. Then Yahweh sent sentinel prophets to sound the trumpet. However, once again they did not pay attention to this call to be on guard. Thus Yahweh announces to the world that disaster was going to come upon the people of Jerusalem. This was the result of their own schemes, since they did not listen to his words and teachings. Instead, they rejected the word of Yahweh.

 

Fear of the Lord (Sir 34:14-34:20)

“The spirit of those

Who fear the Lord

Will live.

Their hope is in him

Who saves them.

Those who fear the Lord

Will not be timid.

They will not play the coward.

He is their hope.

Happy is the soul

That fears the Lord!

To whom does he look?

Who is his support?

The eyes of the Lord

Are on those who love him.

The Lord is a mighty shield.

The Lord is a strong support.

The Lord is a shelter

From the scorching wind.

The Lord is a shade

From the noonday sun.

The Lord is a guard

Against stumbling.

The Lord is a help

Against falling.

He lifts up the soul.

He makes the eyes sparkle.

He gives health.

He gives life.

He gives blessings.”

Sirach emphasizes the importance of fearing God with its consequences. Those who fear the Lord will live. They have hope that the Lord will save them. They will not be cowards or timid. The reason for their hope is that the Lord supports them. He loves them since he is like a shield. He provides shelter for them against the hot winds and shade against the hot midday sun. The Lord keeps them from stumbling or falling. He lifts up their souls as he makes their eyes sparkle. He gives them health, life and blessings. A lot of good things happen when you fear the Lord.

Accept the discipline (Sir 6:23-6:31)

“Listen!

My child!

Accept my judgment!

Do not reject my counsel!

Put your feet into her fetters!

Put your neck into her collar!

Bend your shoulder!

Carry her!

Do not fret under her bonds!

Come to her with all your soul!

Keep her ways with all your might!

Search out!

Seek her!

She will become known to you.

When you get hold of her,

Do not let her go.

For at last,

You will find the rest she gives.

She will be changed into joy for you.

Then her fetters will become for you a strong defense.

Her collar will be a golden ornament.

Her bonds will be a purple cord.

You will wear her like a glorious robe.

You will put her on like a splendid crown.”

Sirach wants the children to listen to him and accept his judgment. They should receive the chains of wisdom around their necks and on their feet in order to accept wisdom. They should carry her, this feminine wisdom, and let her come into their souls. They should seek and search her out. She will become known to them. They should never let her go. Their lives will be changed into joy as the chains will be a defense. They will have golden ornaments around their necks, purple cords, and a splendid crown. Just listen to what he and wisdom are telling them. This almost sounds like a masochistic love for this female wisdom.

Premature death of the righteous (Wis 4:10-4:15)

“There were some who pleased God.

They were loved by him.

While living among sinners,

They were taken up.

They were caught up

So that evil might not change their understanding.

Thus evil guile did not deceive their souls.

The fascination of wickedness

Obscures what is good.

Roving desire perverts the innocent mind.

Being perfected in a short time,

They fulfilled long years.

Their souls were pleasing to the Lord.

Therefore he took them quickly

From the midst of wickedness.

Yet the peoples saw.

They did not understand.

They did not take such a thing to heart.

God’s grace is with his elect.

God’s mercy is with his elect.

He watches over his holy ones.”

Even those who were pleasing to God (εὐάρεστος τῷ Θεῷ) were taken up at an early age. They were living among sinners (ἁμαρτωλῶν) when they were taken up from earth. They were loved (ἠγαπήθη), so that no evil (μὴ κακία) was able to change their understanding or their souls. There is a fascination with wickedness that obscures good things. Sometimes, a roving desire perverts an innocent mind. Some people are perfect in a short time, as if they had lived many years. Thus the Lord takes them quickly. They are pleasing to him (ἀρεστὴ γὰρ ἦν Κυρίῳ). People see this, but they do not understand it or take it to heart. God’s grace and mercy is with his chosen ones (χάρις καὶ ἔλεος ἐν τοῖς ἐκλεκτοῖς) since he watches over these holy ones.

The blessed ones (Wis 3:13-3:15)

“Blessed is the barren woman

Who is undefiled.

She has not entered into a sinful union.

She will have fruit

When God examines souls.

Blessed also is the eunuch

Whose hands have done no lawless deed.

He has not devised wicked things against the Lord.

Special favor will be shown him

For his faithfulness.

There will be a place of great delight

In the temple of the Lord.

The fruit of good labors is renowned.

The root of understanding does not fail.”

This author then praises or calls the barren woman and the eunuch blessed or blissful (μακαρία). Both of these groups of people were considered outcasts of society because of their sterility. These barren women are those who were not defiled. They had not entered into a sinful union. They will bear fruit when their souls would be examined (ἐπισκοπῇ ψυχῶν). The eunuchs should have not done any lawless actions. They will not have devised anything wicked against the Lord (κατὰ τοῦ Κυρίου πονηρά). They will receive special favors because they were faithful. They will have a special place in the Temple of the Lord (ἐν ναῷ Κυρίου θυμηρέστερος). This is a reference to some kind of eternal reward. The fruits of a good life and understanding will not fail.