EIGHTEEN AGAINST AMBITION AND SCANDAL At that hour the disciples asked, "Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to him, and set him down in the midst of them, and told them, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like these little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven, for who shall please to humble himself as this child for my sake, the greatest in heaven shall be. And whoever receives one such child for my sake, also receives me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me, to sin, better a millstone be hung 'round his neck or the depths of the sea be drowned in. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must be that scandals come, but woe to the man or woman through whom scandal comes from. And if thy hand or foot is an occasion of sin, cut it off and cast it from thee! It is better to enter life maimed or lame than, having two feet, to be cast into the fire everlasting. If thy eye is an occasion of sin, pluck it out and cast it away, for it is better to enter in life with one eye working than it is to have two eyes to see, and be cast into the fires of hell, to burn in darkness eternally." THE LOST SHEEP "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say, their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father each day. For the Son of Man came to save what was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them stray, will he not leave ninety-nine to stand alone in the mountains and go out in search of the one that has strayed away? And, if he happens to find it, he rejoices the more over it, amen, I say, than the ninety-nine who did not wander off. Even so, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that a single one of these little ones should suffer any ill." FRATERNAL CHARITY But if thy brother sin against thee, go and show his fault to him just between you and him alone. If he hears, thou hast won thy brother in trust. But if he doesn't listen, take one or two with you as witness to confirm every word, and if he does not hear them, appeal to the church, that he learn. But if he refuses to hear even the church, let him be as a heathen to you. Amen, what you bind shall be bound in heaven, and what you loose, shall be loosed there, too. I say, further, that if two shall agree about anything at all they ask, whatever the two ask of the Father, my Father shall perform that task. For where two or three of you gather, for my sake, together nigh, I tell you that in the midst of them, for all time, there also am I." THE MERCIFUL SERVANT Then Peter asked, "How often, Lord, shall I forgive my brother's sin against me? Up to seven time?," and Jesus said, "I say to you, forgive endlessly. Not seven times, but seventy times seven; as oft as he repents, forgive. This is why the kingdom of heaven is compared to a king who desires to give settlement of accounts with his servants. And when he had begun, one was brought who owed him much, but had no means that payment be done, and his master ordered that he be sold with his family and all he owned, that payment be made, but the servant fell down and besought him to spare his home, saying, 'Have patience and I will pay thee all,' and he was moved with a compassion of gold, and the master of the servant released him, and forgave him the debt he owed. But the servant went out, and met a colleague who owned him a hundred denarii, and he laid hold and said, 'Pay what thou owest,' but his pleading he only denied, but went away and cast him in prison until he should pay what was due. His fellow servants, saddened, told their master, who called him and said, 'I forgave you, wicked servant, because thou didst plead with me; should you not have had such pity, too.' And he handed him over for torture until he should pay all that was due. So also, will my Father in heaven do to you each for your part, if you do not each forgive fully, your brothers from your hearts." THE GREAT COMMANDMENT: THE GOOD SAMARITAN (FROM LUKE 10, 29-37) A certain lawyer got up to test him, and said, "Master, what must I do to gain eternal life?" And Jesus asked, "How does the Law read to you?" He answered, "'Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with thy whole heart and whole soul, and with thy whole strength and thy whole mind, and thy neighbor as thyself' is the whole of the Law," and Jesus told him, "Thou hast answered correctly; do so, and thou shalt live." To justify himself, the lawyer asked, "Who is my neighbor?" "To Jericho," Jesus answered, "a man walking was robbed and left half- dead by the road, for any passerby to see who mercy might have showed. But as it happened, a certain priest was going down the same way, and when he saw him, he passed him by to avoid entanglement or delay. And likewise, a Levite, when he was near the place, and saw him lying there, passed by him also, but a Samaritan journeying, saw him, and with care and compassion, bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine. He sat him on his beast and brought him to an inn to take care of him fine. And the next day, he took two denarii and gave them to the keeper and said, 'Take care of him, and whatever you spend, I'll repay when I return ahead.' Which of these three, in thy opinion, proved himself neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?" And he said, "He who took pity on him." And Jesus said, "Go, and do thou also in like manner; if thou wouldst find salvation, thou must follow the Father's banner." NINETEEN THE QUESTION OF DIVORCE And it came to pass that he left Galilee and went beyond the Jordan to Judea's land, and great crowds followed, and he cured their ills, but some of the Pharisees came to him, and, seeking to test him, asked him, "Is it lawful for any man to put away his wife for any cause?" But he answered and said to them, "Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his parents and cleave to his wife without fail, and the two shall become one flesh?'Therefore, they are not two, but one. What, therefore, God has joined together, let no man make undone." They said, "Why, then did Moses command a written notice to put her away?" And he answered, "Because Moses, by reason of your hard hearts permitted this way; but it was not so from the beginning. Whoever puts his wife away, except for immorality, and marries again, commits adultery, I say; and he who marries a woman who was put away, sleeps in sin." "But if this be so, it's not expedient to marry," he disciples said to him. And he told them, "Not all can accept this teaching, but those to whom it's been given. For there are eunuchs who were born of their mothers and those made themselves for heaven's kingdom's sake, and there are those eunuchs who were made so to please men. And the way of the kingdom's not easy. Let him accept it who can." JESUS BLESSES THE CHILDREN Little children were brought to him then, that he might lay his hands on them and pray; but the disciples rebuked them and were going to send them away. But Jesus said, "Let the children be, and do not stop them from coming this way, for of such is the kingdom of heaven," and he laid hands of them, and went away. THE DANGER OF RICHES And behold, a certain rich man came and said, "Good Master, what work shall I do that I should have eternal life, for the way is known to you?" And he said to him, "Why dost thou ask me about what is good? Who is good is but one, and He is God. But if you would enter into life, let the commandments be done." So he said to him, "Which?," and Jesus said, "Thou shalt not kill nor bear false on another, nor adultery, nor shall thou steal. And honor thy father and mother. And shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." And the young man said, "All these I have kept; what is wanting in me?" Jesus said, "If you'd be perfect to please, go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor and follow me, and thou shalt have good treasure in heaven." But he was sad as he was wealthy. But Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen, I say, with greatest difficulty will the rich man enter the kingdom of heaven. And I further say it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle's head than for a rich man to enter in heaven," but the disciples were astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?," and looking at them, Jesus said, "This is impossible with men, but with God all things are possible." And Peter addressed him then, "Behold, we have left all and followed thee; what shall we have, then?" And Jesus said, "Amen, I say onto you, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, you also shall sit, who have followed me, on twelve thrones, judging the tribes of Israel as fit. And everyone who has left home or family or lands for my name, shall receive a hundredfold and possess life everlasting as his fame. But many there are who are first now, who at that time will be last; and many there are who are last now, who will be first when all this comes to pass." TWENTY THE LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD "The kingdom of heaven is like the householder who early in the morning went out to hire workers for his vineyard; and having agreed with them about a wage of a denarias a day, he sent them to the vineyard to work. And about the third hour, he went out and saw that in the market place lurked others standing idle, and he said to them, 'Go to the vineyard and I'll pay you whatever is just,' and they went, and he returned again twice more that day, at about the sixth and ninth hours to the market, and did once more as before, but returned still again at the eleventh hour, and found standing there still some more. And he asked, 'Why do you stand here all day?,' and the said, 'We've been hired by no man,' so he told them, 'Go out to the vineyard, and complete the work the others began.' But when evening had come, the owner told his steward, 'Call them for their pay, the last and the first,' and when they had come, he gave each a denarias for the day. But those who had been hired at morning thought that they would receive more, but were given only the same wages, even though they'd been hired before. And they began to murmur against him, 'These last have worked but an hour, and thou hast put them level with us who have borne the day's heat, should not our wages be greater?' But he told them, 'Friend, I do no injustice to thee. Take thine and go. I give the last as you. Didst thou not on a denarias agree? Have I not the right to do as I choose? Or are you envious of my generosity?' Even so, the last shall be first in the end; and the first, last in eternity." THE THIRD PREDICTION OF THE PASSION And Jesus took the twelve disciples aside, on the way to Jerusalem, by themselves, and for the third time predicted the coming passion to them. "Behold, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and Scribes who'll condemn him to death, and before the Gentiles he'll be laid and delivered up to be mocked and scourged and crucified; and he will rise up again on the third day after he has died." THE MOTHER OF THE SONS OF ZEBEDEE Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and worshipping, she made a request of him. He said to her, "What dost thou want done?" And she said to him, "Command that these, my two sons, shall sit, one at thy right hand and one at thy left, in the kingdom that is to come." But Jesus answered and told her, "You do not know what you ask for. Can you drink of the cup I will drink of?" They answered, "We can, and more, for your glory and the praise of the Father," and he said, "Of my cup, you shall drink, but as for sitting at my right hand or on my left hand, you must not think that that is mine to give you, for it belongs only to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father, and it is only He than knows." When the ten heard this, they were indignant at the two brothers, but Jesus said, "You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over their heads, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so among you. On the contrary, who wishes to be great among you, a servant's work must do; and whoever wishes to be the first, shall be your slave, even as the Son of Man has come not to be served but to serve, and has his life, as a ransom, undone." JESUS HEALS TWO BLIND MEN And a great crowd followed after them as they were leaving Jericho. And two blind men by the wayside heard Jesus would very soon go past them were they sat, and when he did, they cried out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" But the crowd would have had them ignored, and tried to silence them, but they cried louder, "Lord, have mercy on us, David's Son!" And he stopped and called to ask them, "What is it you would have be done?" They said, "Lord, that our eyes be opened," and Jesus, moved with compassion for them, touched their eyes and opened them at once, and they followed him. THE GOOD SHEPHERD (FROM JOHN 10, 1-21) "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who have come are robbers, but the sheep have not heard for I keep them safe. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he'll be safe, and go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes to steal and to rape and slay, and destroy. But I came that they might have life, and abundantly. I am the good shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep, and willingly. But the hireling, whose the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and flees. And the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep, and of no concern is he. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me as well, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father; for I tell you that I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Those sheep also I must keep, and they shall hear my voice and there shall be one flock and one fold and one shepherd. For this reason, the Father loves me, behold, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself, for then, I have the power to lay it down, and to take it up once more. Such is the command I have received from my Father whom I adore." When he had spoken again there arose a division among the Jews because of these words, and many said, "He has a devil, why do you listen to him, for this man is mad?" While others were saying, "What kind of words are these to come of a devil? Can a devil open eyes of the blind?" THE RAISING OF LAZARUS (FROM JOHN 11, 1-47) Now there was a certain man who was sick named Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Now, it had been this Mary who had anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet dry with her hair, whose brother was this Lazarus who was sick, so they sent for Jesus to come there. But when Jesus had heard of this, he said, "This sickness is not onto death, but for the glory of God, through his Son, to be got." Now Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus, so after two days, he said, "Let us go to Judea," but the disciples were quick to say, "Rabbi, just now the Jews have sought to stone thee, and now again, you would go there?," and Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours, then, in a day? If a man walks in the day, he does not stumble, for he sees the light of the world. But if he walks in darkness, that cannot be, because the light is not with him." These things Jesus spoke and said, "Lazarus, our friend, sleeps. But I go that he may be awoke." His disciples, therefore, said, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will be safe, thou knows." Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought he meant reposed. So Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead," so they went. Martha and Mary heard he was coming, and to meet him, Martha was sent while Mary remained at home. Martha said, "Lord, if only thou had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I am not possessed of fear, for I know that whatever you ask, God will give to you." Jesus said, "Thy brother shall rise." Martha said, "I know it is true that he will rise at the resurrection on the last day." But Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even if dead, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Dost thou believe this?," he asked her. And she answered, "Yes, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who hast come into the world." And when she had spoken, she bade Mary come from their home, saying, "The Master calls," and she rose quickly and went, for Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still where they had met. When the Jews with her in the house to comfort her, saw Mary go, they followed her saying, "She goes to the tomb to weep there. We, too, shall go." When she came to where Jesus was waiting, and saw him, she fell at his feet, and said, "Lord, if thou had been here, my brother would not be asleep." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her, weeping, too, he groaned in spirit and was troubled, and said, "Take me now then to where you have laid him." And the said, "Lord, come and see," and Jesus wept, and the Jews said, "See how he loved him," but others asked, "Could he have not kept this man whom he loved from dying, who could open the eyes of the blind?" Jesus, therefore, again groaning in himself, deep in his mind, came to the tomb. Now, it was a cave, and a stone across it was set. And Jesus said, "Take away the stone." But at this Martha was upset, "Lord, by this time, he is decayed, for he has been dead four days." And Jesus said, "Have I not told thee that if thou believe what I say, thou shalt behold the glory of God?" They therefore removed the stone. And Jesus, raising his eyes, said, "Father, I thank thee, alone, that Thou hast heard me. Yet, I knew that Thou always hearest me; but because of the people who stand around, I spoke, that they might see, and that they might believe that Thou has sent me." And when this was said, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth! Be not dead!" And at once, he who had been dead, came forth, bound hands and feet with bandages, and his face was tied with a cloth, with life replete. And Jesus said to those standing about, "Unbind him, and let him go." Many saw and believed in Jesus while others went and let the Pharisees know. Continue Return to beginning of POeTRY