Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Luke’

Running to the window, he opened it and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!”

“What’s to-day!” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

“Eh?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

“To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, CHRISTMAS DAY.”

“It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!”

“Hallo!” returned the boy.

“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.

“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.

“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there? Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?”

“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.

“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”

“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.”

“Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.”

“Walk-ER!” exclaimed the boy.

“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half a crown!”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Scrooge and Cratchit

John Leech, “Scrooge and Bob Cratchit” (1843) (link)

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Lk 15.8-10 NRSV)

Parable of the Lost Drachma

Domenico Fetti, “The Parable of the Lost Drachma” (1618-22)


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Today’s Gospel reading at Mass may be formative in this Lenten season:

Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them..” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’ (16.19-31)

The Gospel of St Luke

Lazarus and Dives, The Abbaye St. Pierre de Moissa

The following is a short essay I wrote for admission to Duke University’s Divinity School (February 2011):

St John Chrysostom (“the golden tongue”) articulates the Gospel of Christ in various sermons he preached in Antioch, where he served first as reader, then as deacon and priest, and then as the metropolis’ bishop. In one series, On Wealth and Poverty, Chrysostom focuses on St Luke’s parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The sermons’ central theme is that, while the poor may suffer misfortune, it is the duty of the rich to give alms and do acts of charity both to ease the plight of the poor and to fend off the disadvantages that accompany earthy treasures.

Unlike Origen, who precedes Chrysostom’s ministry by a century, Chrysostom’s reading of the biblical witness is less allegorical in nature and a more literal than his Alexandrian predecessor. For Chrysostom, the Gospel contains an honest and realistic call to serve the poor through the giving of alms. The parable itself is a vision of a rich man, negligent of the poor mendicant before his house’s gates, and then dying and then suffering in Hell. Chrysostom’s states for the benefit of his congregation that the rich man’s sin lies not in his wealth of earthly possessions but in his hard-heartedness and lack of care for the beggar. For Chrysostom, the poor have advantages in their lack, as they have less distraction in their honest pursuit of holiness. And while the rich may be disadvantaged as to their wealth and its distractions, the rich may give alms to the poor and therefore help to secure their own lot of penance and holiness.

Notice that in his sermons Chrysostom does not lambast the rich. His congregation in Antioch, at that time the Empire’s third largest city, no doubt had many wealthy merchants and tradesmen, and it would be easy for Chrysostom to castigate them for their material excesses. But Chrysostom does not preach hell as much as he does heaven, offering these congregants encouragement towards the blessings that accompany giving to his city’s poor. Chrysostom does not use his words and his episcopal position to condemn, but to offer gospel, that is good news, for the poor and the rich alike. Most importantly, as he does at the end of each sermon, Chrysostom askes a blessing of thanksgiving to Christ: “May we all attain this salvation, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

St Bernard, abbot

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (1.26-38)

The Gospel of St Luke

The Annunciation (14th cent., Russia)

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Matthew 3.1-2

Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας [καὶ] λέγων, Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

1) παραγίνεται : dep. pres. 3rd sg., παραγίνομαι, to be at hand; arrive, come
2) κηρύσσων : pres. act. part., nom. sg., κηρύσσω, to cry, proclaim, herald; see κήρυγμα, preaching
3) Μετανοεῖτε : pl. impv., μετανοέω, to change one’s mind, repent
4) ἤγγικεν : 3rd sg., 1 aor./pft, ἐγγίζω, to draw nigh, be at hand

In those days came John the baptist proclaiming in the desert of Judea, [and] saying, “Repent! for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”


There seems, in the Gospel of Matthew, a certain connection between the action of κηρύσσω, preaching/proclaiming, and the at-hand-ness, ἤγγικεν, of theἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, the Kingdom of Heaven

Mt 4.17
ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς κηρύσσειν καὶ λέγειν Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
Jesus began to proclaim and say, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Mt 10.7
πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
And as you go forth, proclaiming saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

βασιλεία, kingdom, dominion is a term used throughout the breadth of the New Testament. Here specifically we have ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, the Kingdom of Heaven, a term Matthew uses eighteen times in his composition. This count excludes kingdom of God in 19.24 and 21.31, kingdom of my father in 26.29, Your kingdom in 6.10, or just the kingdom; all of these could be understood to be equivalents theologically speaking.

In Matthew, the Kingdom of Heaven is a thesis statement, a message of proclamation, κήρυγμα, against all the kingdoms of the world(4.8). ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν is never mentioned in Mark or Luke, both using ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ instead. John, too, opts for the the Kingdom of God, or my kingdom, (Jn 18.36Ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, my kingdom is not of this world)

Postscript: Consider the Book of Daniel:
και εν τοις χρονοις των βασιλεων τουτων στησει ο θεος του ουρανου βασιλειαν αλλην ητις εσται εις τους αιωνας και ου φθαρησεται και αυτη η βασιλεια αλλο εθνος ου μη εαση παταξει δε και αφανισει τας βασιλειας ταυτας και αυτη στησεται εις τον αιωνα (LXX)

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. (NIV)


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Matthew 8.27

οἱ δὲ ἄνθρωποι ἐθαύμασαν λέγοντες, Ποταπός ἐστιν οὗτος ὅτι καὶ οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ ἡ θάλασσα αὐτῷ ὑπακούουσιν;

1)    ἐθαύμασαν : θαυμάζω, Aor. 3rd. pl., to wonder, be astonished (cf. mirari)

2)    λέγοντες : λέγω, pres. act. participle, to say, speak

3)    ποταπός : [cl. ποδαπός] adj. που + από, whence? (cf. cuius)

4)    ὑπακούουσιν : ὑπ – ακούω. Pres. Act. 3rd pl., to listen; hearken, obey + dat.

And the men were astonished, saying, “What (whose) man is this, that both the winds and the sea obey him?”



Jesus receives the same reaction elsewhere: (i) marveling the crowds [οἱ ὄχλοι] in 9.32; (ii) his disciples [οἱ μαθηταὶ] in 21.20; (iii) and those listening [ἀκούσαντες] to his thoughts on giving to Caesar and to God in 22.22.

Luke will use the same form four times of his own, but note the comparison:

Lk 8.25 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς Ποῦ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν; φοβηθέντες δὲ ἐθαύμασαν, λέγοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους Τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν ὅτι καὶ τοῖς ἀνέμοις ἐπιτάσσει καὶ τῷ ὕδατι, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ;

And he said to them, “Where is your faith?” And afraid they were astonished, saying to each other, “Who then is this, that he commands both the winds and the water, and they obey him.

Luke’s version is not as neat and tiddy as Matthew’s; the Greek is clean and says much, but Luke uses many words to get his point across. Matthew’s “sea” [ἡ θάλασσα] is much more massive than Luke’s “water” [τῷ ὕδατι]. At the same time, it is in Luke that Jesus  gives orders [ἐπιτάσσει] to these forces of nature.

αὐτῷ ὑπακούουσιν

This exact combination is used by both Matthew and Luke (listed above), and is a part of a formula they may have picked up from Mark

Mk 1.27 ὥστε συνζητεῖν αὐτοὺς λέγοντας Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινή: κατ᾽ ἐξουσίαν καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ.

So they discussed these things, saying, “What is this? a new teaching with authority! And he gives orders to unclean spirits, and they obey him.

Mk 4. 41 καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν, καὶ ἔλεγον πρὸς ἀλλήλους, Τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν ὅτι καὶ ὁ ἄνεμος καὶ ἡ θάλασσα ὑπακούει αὐτῷ;

And they feared a great fear, and said to each other, “who then is this, that both the wind and the sea obey him.

The wind is singular, but we are back to the forces of nature.

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Salt, an exercise


Matt 5.13 Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τ λας τῆς γῆς: ἐὰν δ τ λας μωρανθ, ν τνι λισθσεται; εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσχύει ἔτι εἰ μὴ βληθὲν ἔξω καταπατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its flavor, however will it be “salted”?  It’s become good for nothing, except to be tossed outside beneath (the feet) of men.

Compare with

Luke 14.34Καλὸν οὖν τ λας: ἐὰν δ καὶ τ λας μωρανθ, ν τνι ρτυθσεται; 35οὔτε εἰς γῆν οὔτε εἰς κοπρίαν εὔθετόν ἐστιν: ἔξω βάλλουσιν αὐτό. ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω.

And so salt is good! But if the salt has lost its flavor, however will it “be salted”? neither for the earth nor for manure is it useful. They throw it outside. He who has ears to hear let him hear.


Mark 9.49πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ λισθσεται. 50Καλὸν τ λας: ἐὰν δ τ λας ἄναλον γένηται, ν τνι αὐτὸ ἀρτύσετε; ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα, καὶ εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις.

For everyone will “be salted” with fire.  Salt (is) good. but if it has become un-salty, however will you season it? Have in yourselves salt, and make peace among each other.

and finally, from Saint Paul

Colossians 4.6 ὁ λόγος ὑμῶν πάντοτε ἐν χάριτι, ἅλατι ρτυμνος, εἰδέναι πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ ἀποκρίνεσθαι.

(May) the talk among you all always (be) in grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know who to respond to everyone.


The noun salt, λς, doesn’t get too much press in the New Testament; in only these four passages does salt appear.  In Mark, the model which Matthew and Luke theoretically use, salt is very good (!), but not before stating that everyone will be “salted” with fire.

λισθσεται : ἁλίζω is a verb based on the noun ἅλς, salt, so to salt, to season with salt. ἁλισθήσεται is a particularly delicious form, present in all three witnesses [a future, passive, 3rd, singular form]. It is likely Matthew and Luke borrowed the form from Mark, but perhaps not the concept entire. It is very likely the form references Leviticus (LXX) 2.13:

καὶ πᾶν δῶρον θυσίας ὑμῶν ἁλὶ λισθήσεται οὐ διαπαύσετε ἅλα διαθήκης κυρίου ἀπὸ θυσιασμάτων ὑμῶν ἐπὶ παντὸς δώρου ὑμῶν προσοίσετε κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ ὑμῶν ἅλας,

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings [NIV].

Same form, future, passive, etc.

Now Paul (or Paul’s crew, as we are not positive who wrote this epistle to the Church in Colossae) was writing arguably before any of these Gospels, but Colossians may be a bit more contemporary with the writing of Mark and subsequent gospels.

But I’m still concerned with Mark’s expression, πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται, seasoned (literally, “salted”) with fire,” and how this expression didn’t carry on into either Matthew or Luke. And so the issue is not so much salt, though it is the salting verb, but fire.

πῦρ, where we get our English pyro– words, which brings back up the sacrificial vocabulary found through out the Old Testament. And salt was indeed included as a part of the rites of the sacrifice, as we say in the Leviticus passage.


Has Mark inverted the formula? Instead salting something on fire or having been sacrificed, as in Leviticus, will the salted (“You are salt…”, “talk… seasoned with salt”) be visited with fire?

And, if this is the case, have Matthew and Luke softened the Jesus’ (apocalyptic?) tone by leaving out the expression?

Finally, was this salt and seasoned vocabulary a Markan invention, playing off the Old Testament sacrifice motif, that Matthew and Luke recognized? Was Paul likening our conversations among each other as a part of our sacrifice to God? Was salt a preached theme hovering around the churches of the early Jesus movement? Was salt a theme we’d like to send back to Jesus’ ministry itself?

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The 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday until Easter observed by Christians as a season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter.

[from Middle English lenten, lente, spring, Lent, from Old English lencten]

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