The second commandment (Mk 12:31-12:31)

“‘The second commandment is.

‘You shall love

Your neighbor

As yourself.’

There is no other commandment

Greater than these.’”

 

δευτέρα αὕτη Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν. μείζων τούτων ἄλλη ἐντολὴ οὐκ ἔστιν.

 

There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:39-40, and Luke, chapter 10:27, but in a more condensed version.  This was based on Leviticus, chapter 19:18.  A further explanation of the commandments in Leviticus ends with this basic fundamental concept of love your neighbor as yourself, which became the cornerstone of Judaism and Christianity.  They were not to hate in their heart anyone of their relatives.  They should reprove their neighbor, but not take vengeance on him.  They were not to bear a grudge, because they should love them as themselves.  Mark said that Jesus replied that the 2nd commandment (δευτέρα αὕτη) was like the 1st one about love.  Not only were they to love God, but they were to love their neighbors as themselves (Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν).  There were no other commandments greater than these 2 commandments of love (μείζων τούτων ἄλλη ἐντολὴ οὐκ ἔστιν).  Everything was based on the love of God and neighbor.

 

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Follow the commandments (Mk 10:19-10:19)

“You know

The commandments!

‘You shall not murder!

You shall not commit adultery!

You shall not steal!

You shall not bear false witness!

You shall not defraud!

Honor your father!

Honor your mother!’”

 

τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας Μὴ φονεύσῃς, Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, Μὴ κλέψῃς, Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, Μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς, Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα

 

This response of Jesus can be found in Matthew, chapter 19:17-19, and Luke, chapter 18:20, but slightly different, since Luke and Mark are closer to each other.  Mark said that Jesus gave the classic answer for those who wanted to enter eternal life.  They knew the commandments or laws (τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας).  Follow them!  Mark did not have any question about which commandments to follow.  Jesus just mentioned some of the commandments.  You shall not kill or murder (Μὴ φονεύσῃς)!  You shall not commit adultery (Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς)!  You shall not steal (Μὴ κλέψῃς)!  You shall not bear false witness (Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς)!  You shall not defraud (Μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς)!  Honor your father (Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου)!  Honor your mother (καὶ τὴν μητέρα)!  All of these are from the Ten Commandments in Exodus, chapter 20:12-16, and Deuteronomy, chapter 5:16-20.  Mark does not have the reminder to love your neighbor.  However, he added the comment about not defrauding others.

Fifth narrative

Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem and taught in the Temple there, debating with the chief priests and religious leaders.  Then he spoke about the coming kingdom of heaven and the future end times.

Jesus finally went to Judea, where he cured large crowds of people.  The Pharisees questioned him about divorce.  Jesus reiterated the importance of marriage, as he spoke about Moses and divorce.  After hearing the response of Jesus about divorce, his disciples wondered why they should marry at all.  Jesus explained about different kind of eunuchs.

The children came forward to Jesus and he blessed them.  He warned against wealth.  To gain eternal life you had to keep the commandments.  They wanted to know which commandments?  The great commandment was not a problem.  However, Jesus asked them to give up their possessions, so that the rich young man walked away.  It was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  Who could be saved?  The response was that all things are possible with God.  Peter wanted to know about the disciples and the eternal life reward, so that Jesus told them that the first shall be last and vice versa.

Then Jesus presented the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  He hired the first laborers, and then late in the day a second group, a third group and finally a fourth group of laborers.  The last group hired got a full day’s pay.  The first group hired were upset when they got the same as the last group hired.  This brought up the problem of generosity versus fairness, as Jesus explained the parable.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to know if her two sons, James and John, could be the greatest, on either side of Jesus.  Jesus pointed out the difficulties and said that only the Father set up the seating arrangements.  This led to ten angry men as they resented the two trying to be first.  Jesus reminded them about servant leadership, as the Son of Man was going to give up his life.

There were great crowds at Jericho where Jesus found two blind men asking for mercy, so he healed them.  Then began the final ministry in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry.  Jesus sent two disciples from Bethpage to get a donkey and a colt because he needed them.  Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus.  Then crowds welcomed the Son of David into Jerusalem as they began to wonder who this man was?

Jesus went into the Temple and chased out the money changers to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he cured people in the Temple, the chief priests were angry, but the little children praised him.

Then Jesus went to Bethany.  The next morning, he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree, but it had no figs, so he cursed the fig tree as it withered because of his faith.

People began to question where did Jesus get his authority?  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them about the value of the baptism of John.  They gave a timid response.  Then he told the parable about the two sons.  The first son said no at first, and then did the work, while the second son said yes and did not do the work.  Which son did the will of his father?  Thus, they did not believe John the Baptist.

Then Jesus told the parable about the wicked tenants.  This absentee land owner of the vineyard sent people to collect his rent.  Instead, the tenants beat and killed the landowner’s slaves.  He sent a second group that was also killed.  Then the tenants killed the landowner’s son.  Finally, the landowner came to take back his vineyard, citing Psalm 118 about the kingdom of God and the falling cornerstone.  The Pharisees understood this parable and tried to arrest Jesus.

Jesus continued to speak in parables.  This parable was about the king who gave a great wedding banquet.  However, the invited guests refused to come to the wedding banquet.  He sent out a second invitation to the wedding banquet, but they refused the second invitation also.  They treated his slaves badly.  The king was angry and sent out new invitations to the wedding feast.  Finally, a man without a wedding garment showed up, but he threw him out of the feast.  The explanation of this parable was that many are called, but few are chosen.

Next the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by flattering him.  They asked him a question about taxes.  Jesus gave a harsh response as he had a dialogue about the Roman coin about whose image was on it.  Give Caesar his due.  The Pharisees and their disciples left.

However, the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  There was a law about marrying the brother of a dead man.  There was a woman who married seven brothers, who was her husband in the resurrection?  Jesus responded that there was no marriage in the resurrection.  The living God of their ancestors would show them the way.  The crowd was astonished.

The Pharisees regrouped and wanted to know what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus responded about the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a question.  Was the Christ the son of David?  Then who was the Lord for David?  After that there were no more questions for Jesus.

Jesus then cursed the Scribes and Pharisees.  He told his disciples to do what they say, but not what they do.  They tied up heavy burdens on the people.  They wore special clothing and sought the places of honor.  They want to be called Rabbis.  No one was your father or master.  Greatness comes with humility.  They tried to lock people out of heaven as they shut it off.  Even when they tried to make converts, they are like blind guides and fools.  They swore by the altar or the gift of the altar.  They swore by heaven, but they had forgotten the law.  They wanted the gnat out your eye but had a camel in their own eye.  They worried about the outside of the cup instead of the inside.  They were like whitewashed tombs.  They proclaimed reverence for the tombs of the prophets, but they were like their sinning ancestors. They were like serpents.  They would kill the prophets.  They spread innocent blood.  Soon the house of Jerusalem would be desolate.

Finally, there were the predictions about the end times.  Jesus left the Temple as he predicted its destruction.  What are the signs of the Parousia?  There would be the beginning of the great suffering so that they should not be lead astray.  There would be rumors of wars in those troubled times.  They would be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.  There would be betrayals and false prophets.  Love would grow cold.  Endurance would be necessary.  The importance of Daniel the prophet was emphasized.  In Judea, they would flee to the housetops.  It would be too late for the people in the fields.  This would be the wrong time to be pregnant or nursing.  There would be great tribulation, but the days would be short.

The end was coming because there would be false Christs and people looking for the Messiah.  The Son of Man would come on the clouds as the darkness in the skies appeared.  There would be a gathering of the chosen ones.  Using the parable of the fig tree, they could tell that the end was near.  This generation would pass away, but Jesus’ words would not pass away.  No one knew the day, since it would be like in the days of Noah.  Only one would be taken and the other left, so be ready.  Be a wise and faithful slave, not a wicked slave.

Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids where half were wise and half foolish.  They all fell asleep.  When the bridegroom came, they all got up.  However, the foolish ones had no oil and wise ones said that there was not enough oil for both of them.  When the foolish left to get oil, they shut the door.  When they came back, the bridegroom said that he did not know them.  Thus, you do not know the day.

Next Jesus told the parable of the talents.  A man entrusted his assets to his slaves.  He gave them money.  One slave added five more talents, another added two more talents, but the third slave dug a hole and buried his money.  The master settled their accounts.  The slave with five talents got five more talents.  The slave with two talents got two more talents.  The slave with one talent was rebuked and punished.  Thus, there will be rewards and punishments at the end times.

In the last judgment, the Son of Man would appear in glory.  There would be sheep and goats, with the sheep on the right hand.  They had taken care of him.  They wondered when they had done this.  The Son of Man replied that they took care of him when they cared for the least of his brothers.  Then he told the goats on his left side to depart from him because they had not taken care of him when they did not care for the lowly people.  Thus, there would be eternal punishment or eternal reward.

Second narrative

This second narrative centered around the Sermon on the Mount and the famous so-called Beatitudes.  The first beatitude was about poverty, while the second beatitude was about mourning.  The third beatitude was about the meek or the humble.  The fourth beatitude was about righteousness.  The fifth beatitude was on mercy, while the sixth beatitude was about the pure of heart.  The seventh beatitude was on peacemakers, while the eighth beatitude was on persecution.  There was a grand blessing for the persecuted Christians, who were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  They had to value and become the lighted lamp.

Next came the law and the prophets.  The law with all its commandments remained.  The righteous ones would not murder, nor would they get angry with insults.  They would offer their gifts at the Temple.  They would pay their debts and not commit adultery.  Jesus warned against the sinning eye and the sinning right hand.  He favored the traditional divorce stance, but warned about marrying a divorced woman.  They should not bear false witness, nor swear at all, since they should have a simple speech.  No longer was it an eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek with unusual kindness.  They were to love their enemies and their heavenly Father with a perfect love.

The followers of Jesus should fast and pray.  We should have piety with almsgiving.  Our charity and prayer should be secret with short prayers.  Thus, there was the famous “Our Father” prayer.  The first part of the Lord’s prayer was about God the Father.  The second part of the Lord’s prayer was about our human problems.  We should seek forgiveness and fast in secret.  We should not want earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures.  We need to have a healthy eye because we cannot serve two masters.

We should trust in Providence.  We do not need to worry.  Just look at the birds who do not worry.  The lilies of the field have more beauty than Solomon in all his glory.  Seek the kingdom of heaven first and you will not have to worry about tomorrow.

As far as judgment was concerned, do not judge the speck in the eye of your neighbor.  Be careful with your holy treasures.  Be seekers and give to your sons.  Pray to your heavenly Father and follow the golden rule.  The gate was narrow and there were many false prophets.  Know them by their fruits.  The sound tree has good fruits.  Cut down the bad tree.  Seek the kingdom of heaven.  Stay away from evildoers.  Wise men build on a rock foundation, while the foolish ones build on a sand foundation.  The crowds were astonished at the authority of Jesus.

Which commandments? (Mt 19:18-19:19)

“He said to Jesus.

‘Which ones?’

Jesus said.

‘You shall not murder!

You shall not commit adultery!

You shall not steal!

You shall not bear false witness!

Honor your father!

Honor your mother!

Also,

You shall love your neighbor

As yourself!’”

 

λέγει αὐτῷ Ποίας; ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔφη Τὸ Οὐ φονεύσεις, Οὐ μοιχεύσεις, Οὐ κλέψεις, Οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις,

Τίμα τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα, καὶ Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.

 

Jesus, via Matthew, indicated which commandments he wanted this man to keep.  This can also be found in Mark, chapter 10:19, and Luke, chapter 18:20, but slightly different, without the reminder to love your neighbor.  There also was no question about which commandments.  Here this person asked Jesus which commandments (λέγει αὐτῷ Ποίας;).  Jesus responded to him (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔφη) directly citing which commandments.  You shall not kill or murder (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔφη)!  You shall not commit adultery (Οὐ μοιχεύσεις)!  You shall not steal (Οὐ κλέψεις)!  You shall not bear false witness (Οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις)!  Honor your father (Τίμα τὸν πατέρα)!  Honor your mother (καὶ τὴν μητέρα)!  All of these are from the Ten Commandments in Exodus, chapter 20:12-16, and Deuteronomy, chapter 5:16-20.  However, Matthew added something not in the other two gospel stories.  This man was to love or esteem his neighbor as himself, that was from Leviticus, chapter 19:18.

 

Unacceptable sacrifices (Sir 34:21-34:27)

“If one sacrifices ill-gotten goods,

The offering is blemished.

The gifts of the lawless

Are not acceptable.

The Most High is not pleased

With the offerings of the ungodly.

He does not forgive sins

For a multitude of sacrifices.

Like one who kills a son,

Before his father’s eyes,

Is the person

Who offers a sacrifice

From the property of the poor.

The bread of the needy

Is the life of the poor.

Whoever deprives them of it

Is a murderer.

To take away a neighbor’s living

Is to commit murder.

To deprive an employee of his wages

Is to shed blood.”

There are some sacrifices that are not acceptable to the Lord. Sirach points out that stolen or ill-gotten goods sacrificed are blemished and thus unacceptable. Even good gifts from the lawless and the ungodly will not be acceptable. A lot of sacrifices do not forgive sins. If you sacrifice the property of the poor, you are like a person killing a son before his own father. The bread of the poor is needed for their life. You are a murderer when you take bread from the poor. If you take away the living of your neighbor, you are a murderer. To deprive anyone of their wages is like shedding their blood. In other words, to steal from the poor or take away their livelihood is like murdering them.

The use of wine (Sir 31:25-31:31)

“Do not try to prove your strength

By drinking wine.

Wine has destroyed many people.

As the furnace tests

The work of the smith,

So wine tests hearts

When the insolent quarrel.

Wine is very life to human beings,

If you drink it in moderation.

What is life to one

Who is without wine?

It has been created

To make people happy.

Wine drunk at the proper time,

Is rejoicing to the heart.

Wine drunk in moderation

Brings gladness to the soul.

Wine drunk to excess

Leads to bitterness of spirit,

Leads to quarrels,

Leads to stumbling.

Drunkenness increases

The anger of a fool

To his own hurt.

It reduces his strength.

It adds wounds.

Do not reprove your neighbor

At a banquet of wine.

Do not despise him

In his merrymaking.

Speak no word of reproach to him.

Do not distress him

By making demands of him.”

Sirach warns that you should not try to show how strong you are by drinking wine since it has destroyed many people. Just as a furnace tests the iron work of a blacksmith, so too wine tests insolent people when they quarrel. However, wine does have a good purpose. It is life itself when taken in moderation. Without wine, our lives would not be happy. Wine at the proper time and in moderation rejoices and gladdens the heart and the soul. On the other hand, over indulging in wine can lead to a bitter spirit, quarrels, and stumbling around. The fool who drinks excessively increases his own anger to his own detriment. Drunkards lose their strength and sometimes get wounded. If you are at a banquet with wine, do not pick an argument with your neighbor. Do not dislike him for having a good time. Do not criticize him or ask him for anything. It is not the right time.