Poor widow gave more (Lk 21:3-21:3)

“Jesus said.

‘Truly!

I tell you!

This poor widow

Has put in

More than

All of them.’”

 

καὶ εἶπεν Ἀληθῶς λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν·

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said (καὶ εἶπεν) with a solemn pronouncement (Ἀληθῶς λέγω ὑμῖν) that this poor widow (ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ) had put in more than all of them (πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν).  This sounded a little strange, since her gift was so miniscule.  Only Mark, chapter 12:43, has something similar, while Matthew did not mention this incident at all.  Mark said that Jesus called his disciples together (καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  He told them with a solemn pronouncement (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that this poor widow had put in more money than all those rich people who were contributing to the treasury (ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν τῶν βαλλόντων εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον).  In plain numerical terms, that was not correct, but proportionally it was true.  She had given the smallest amount of Greek or Roman money as possible.  There was nothing smaller than her contribution of two copper lepton coins.  However, she had so little to begin with, so that this was a large contribution for her.  What is the largest donation that you ever made?

John was a prophet (Lk 20:6-20:6)

“But if we say.

‘Of human origin,

All the people

Will stone us.

They are convinced

That John

Was a prophet.’”

 

ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, ὁ λαὸς ἅπας καταλιθάσει ἡμᾶς· πεπεισμένος γάρ ἐστιν Ἰωάνην προφήτην εἶναι.

 

Luke indicated that the Jerusalem Jewish leaders thought that if they said the baptism of John was of human origin (ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων), all the people would stone them (ὁ λαὸς ἅπας καταλιθάσει ἡμᾶς), because the people were convinced or persuaded (πεπεισμένος) that John was a prophet (γάρ ἐστιν Ἰωάνην προφήτην εἶναι).  Once again, this is a unique Luke usage of the term καταλιθάσει, to cast stones, stone down, stone to death, or overwhelm with stones, that is not found elsewhere in the Greek biblical literature.  This question about the value of the baptism of John the Baptist can also be found in Matthew, chapter 21:26, and Mark, chapter 11:32, almost word for word.  Mark said that these Jewish Jerusalem leaders did not want to say that this baptism of John was from human origins, man-made (ἀλλὰ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων).  They were afraid of the crowds of people (ἐφοβοῦντο τὸν ὄχλον), since they all regarded John the Baptist as a true prophet (ἅπαντες γὰρ εἶχον τὸν Ἰωάνην ὄντως ὅτι προφήτης ἦν).  Matthew indicated that if these leaders said that this baptism of John was from human origins (ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων), they were afraid of the crowds of people (φοβούμεθα τὸν ὄχλον), since they all regarded John the Baptist as a prophet (φοβούμεθα τὸν ὄχλον).  There was no mention of being stoned in Mark and Matthew, only in Luke.  Nevertheless, these leaders were stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Have you ever been unable to answer a question?

Can you add to your life? (Lk 12:25-12:25)

“Can any of you,

By worrying,

Add a single hour

To your lifespan?”

 

τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ προσθεῖναι πῆχυν;

 

Luke indicated that Jesus posed a question.  Are any of them able (τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν…δύναται), by worrying or being anxious (μεριμνῶν), add a single hour to their lifespan (ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ προσθεῖναι πῆχυν)?  Once again, Matthew, chapter 6:27, had a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Matthew had Jesus ask them if worrying was going to add one cubit or one hour to their lifespan or age (τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα)?  Probably, the opposite is true.  Don’t worry!  Be happy!  How have you increased your lifespan?

The widow contributed more (Mk 12:43-12:43)

“Then Jesus called

His disciples.

He said to them.

‘Truly!

I say to you!

This poor widow

Has put in more

Than all those

Who are contributing

To the treasury.”

 

καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν τῶν βαλλόντων εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον·

 

Only Luke, chapter 21:3, has something similar, while Matthew did not mention this incident.  Mark said that Jesus called his disciples (καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  He told them with a solemn pronouncement (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that this poor widow had put in more money than all those rich people who were contributing to the treasury (ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν τῶν βαλλόντων εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον).  In plain numerical terms, that was not correct, but proportionally it was true.  She had given the smallest amount of Greek or Roman money as possible.  There was nothing smaller than her contribution of 2 copper coins.  However, she had so little to begin with, so that this was a large contribution for her.

The birds do not worry (Mt 6:26-6:27)

“Look at the birds

Of the air!

They do not sow.

They do not reap.

They do not gather

Into barns.

Yet your heavenly Father

Feeds them.

Are you not

Of more value than they?

Can any of you,

By worrying,

Add a single hour

To your life span?”

 

ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν εἰς ἀποθήκας, καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά· οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν;

τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα;

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:24-26, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Luke called the birds ravens.  Matthew has Jesus tell his disciples to look and see the birds of the heavenly skies (ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  The word “οὐρανοῦ” means heaven, sky, or air.  These birds do not sow or scatter (ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν), reap or harvest (ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν), or gather crops (οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν) into a granary or barn (εἰς ἀποθήκας).  They are freeloaders.  Yet they are able to eat off the land, because the heavenly Father feeds them (καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά).  Are the disciples or followers of Jesus not more valuable than these birds (οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν)?  Is worrying going to add one cubit or one hour to your life span or age (τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα).  Probably, the opposite is true.  Don’t worry!  Be happy!

The Gift of Faith

Christian faith is a gift from God.  We do not earn it.  However, we can refuse this gift.  We must accept this gift with our mind, our heart, and our will.  Our whole person believes in Jesus Christ.  My mind believes that it is true.  My heart says I trust.  I will love and have a concern for others.  The initial Christian faith is a gentle longing, a search for meaning.  For some it comes in a blinding flash, like the apostle Paul.  Dorothy Day (1897-1980) found it working with the poor, while others see it in the presence of a priest or minister who witnesses to goodness, or at the time of a tragedy or death.  Still others grow up within a cultural community of Christians that grows with them throughout their life.  My faith in Jesus Christ is a continuous growing mysterious reality.

 

What is truth?

The Christ story is true because the Bible tells me so.  Like Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, we ask “what is truth?”  Is this scientific truth?  No.  A peak experience in our life, like falling in love is true, but not scientifically verifiable.  There are different contexts for truth.  There is a difference between truth in court and truth in a laboratory.  There are different kinds of truth.  We say, “So help me, God.”  Stories, like the parable of the Good Samaritan, are true stories, but do we have to say every part happened exactly the way that the gospel story says that it did.  We are influenced by our culture and education.  Thus, we share our culture.  Otherwise there is no trust, only disbelief.  Is truth always black and white?  There are degrees, levels, and kinds of truth.