Luke 12

Chapter 12

The Yeast of the Pharisees.[a] 1 Meanwhile a crowd of many thousands of people had gathered, and they were so tightly packed together that they were trampling on each other. Then Jesus began to speak, saying first to his disciples: “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—which is their hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing secret that will not become known. 3 Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops.

Courage in Time of Persecution. 4 “I tell you, my friends, have no fear of those who kill the body and after that can do nothing further. 5 But I will tell you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who, after he has killed, has the authority to cast into Gehenna. I tell you, fear him!

6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. 7 Even the hairs on your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth far more than any number of sparrows.

8 “I tell you this: whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever denies me before men, he will be denied before the angels of God.

10 Sayings about the Holy Spirit.“Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.[b] 11 When you are brought before synagogues and rulers and authorities, do not be concerned about how or what you are to answer or what you are to say. 12 When the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you are to say.”

Be Poor in Order To Be Free

13 A Saying about Greed.[c]Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the family inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus answered him, “Friend, who appointed me to be a judge and arbitrator in your regard?”

15 [d]After this, he said to the crowd, “Take care to be on your guard against all kinds of greed. Life does not depend upon an abundance of one’s possessions.”

16 The Parable of the Rich Fool. Then he told them a parable: “There was a wealthy man whose land yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have sufficient space to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, where I will store my grain and other produce, 19 and I shall say to myself, “Now you have an abundance of goods stored up for many years to come. Relax, eat, drink, and be merry.” ’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be required of you. And who then will get to enjoy the fruit of your labors?’ 21 That is how it will be for the one who stores up treasure for himself yet fails to become rich in the sight of God.”

22 Trust in God.[e] Then he said to his disciples, “Therefore, heed my words. Do not be concerned about your life and what you will have to eat, or about your body and what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

24 “Consider the ravens. They do not sow or reap, they have no storehouse or barn, and yet God feeds them. You are of far greater importance than birds. 25 Can any of you through worrying add a single moment to your span of life? 26 If then such a small thing is beyond your power, why should you be concerned about the rest?

27 “Consider the lilies and how they grow. They neither labor nor spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his royal splendor was clothed like one of these. 28 If God so clothes the grass that grows today in the field and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

29 “Hence, do not be greatly concerned about what you are to eat and what you are to drink. Do not worry. 30 The nations of the world are concerned for all these things. Your Father is aware of your needs. 31 Rather, seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 Treasure in Heaven.[f]“Fear not, little flock, for your Father has chosen to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can come near and no moth can destroy. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart also be.

Parables about Watchfulness[g]

35 The Parable of the Vigilant Steward.[h]“Fasten your belts for service and have your lamps lit. 36 Be like servants who are waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that they may open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he arrives. Amen, I say to you, he will fasten his belt, have them recline to eat, and proceed to wait on them himself. 38 If he comes in the second watch[i] or in the third and finds them still awake, blessed are those servants.

39 The Hour of the Son of Man.[j]“But keep this in mind: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 So you must also be prepared, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

41 The Parable of the Faithful Servant.[k] Then Peter asked, “Lord, are you directing this parable to us or do you mean it for everyone?” 42 The Lord replied, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward whom his master will put in charge of his household to give its members their allotment of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant if his master finds him doing so when he arrives home. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his property.

45 “But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is detained in arriving,’ and he proceeds to beat the menservants and the maids, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will return on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. He will punish him and assign him a place with the unfaithful.

47 “The servant who knew his master’s wishes but did not get ready or do what his master wanted will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know those wishes, and who acted in such a manner as to deserve a beating, will be beaten less severely. Much will be demanded of a person to whom much has been given, and even more will be asked of a person to whom more has been entrusted.

The Urgency of Making the Decision

49 Jesus and His Passion.[l]“I have come to spread fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it has been completed!

51 Jesus, Cause of Dissensions.[m]“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

52 “From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54 Discerning the Signs of the Times.[n] He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain,’ and so it happens. 55 And when you see the wind blowing from the south, you say, ‘It is going to be hot,’ and so it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky. Why then do you not know how to interpret the present time?

57 Reconciling with Others before the Judgment.[o]“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 Thus, when you are going to court with your opponent, make an effort to settle the matter with him on the way. If you fail to do so, he may drag you before the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the officer, and the officer will throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not be given your freedom until you have paid your debt down to the very last penny.”


  1. Luke 12:1 True disciples do not let the message become altered and are not afraid to bear clear witness to the Gospel, to confess their faith in Jesus. Persecutions should not intimidate them; indeed, it is better to be condemned by opinion than to lose God. Believers are certain that the Lord will never abandon them; they rely on the help of the Spirit to proclaim simply and without alteration the essence of the message (see Acts 4:8; 5:12; 7:55).
  2. Luke 12:10 Everyone who speaks . . . against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven: the meaning of this verse is obscure. Perhaps the meaning is that when Jesus was alive, people could be excused from failing to recognize him as the Savior, but such an excuse will no longer be possible once his mission has been confirmed by the power of the Spirit at Pentecost.
  3. Luke 12:13 The Law of Moses dealt with temporal questions (see Ex 2:14; Acts 7:27), and the rabbis willingly offered their opinions. Jesus has not come to sustain us in our personal interests but to save us. The Gospel does not foster greed in any form; it demands detachment from earthly goods. This episode serves as an introduction to a series of teachings concerning money, an important theme for the Gospel of Luke.
  4. Luke 12:15 The desire for and the satisfaction in accumulating riches closes one to God and deprives one of lucidity. The goods of earth do not have a vocation for eternity. The spiritual future of human beings is more important. The Word and Life of Jesus are sustained by this conviction.
  5. Luke 12:22 When the concern for earthly goods rules one’s whole life, and even one’s prayer, we have become enslaved to them. Christ’s disciples remain free: they trust in God. Jesus does not preach unconcern but concern for what is essential: to accept the kingdom and to live the Gospel.
  6. Luke 12:32 This recommendation to be detached from one’s goods and to give them to those in need is more pressing in Luke. The true treasure of the kingdom is to be detached from money.
  7. Luke 12:35 The Jews were wont to ask: “When will the kingdom come?” Christians asked: “When will the Lord return?” When forced to be vigilant, attention inevitably wanes. But the Lord is near, and our life is with him; we must not be sleeping when he returns.
  8. Luke 12:35 Vigilant servants are bound to work and to be ready even into the night. The disciples are to be focused on meeting their Lord, who will be their joy.
  9. Luke 12:38 Second watch: i.e., between 9:00 P.M. and midnight. Third: i.e., between midnight and 3:00 A.M. See note on Mt 14:25.
  10. Luke 12:39 See note on Mt 24:45-51.
  11. Luke 12:41 When Peter poses this question, he is answered by a parable summoning all leaders of the community to faithful vigilance.
  12. Luke 12:49 The allusion is to the baptism in fire and the Spirit that begins on Pentecost (see Lk 3:16; Acts 2:3, 19) and also to the Passion that is to cleanse the people of their sins (see Mk 10:38).
  13. Luke 12:51 The Gospel brings not security but the division (see Lk 2:34-35) that, according to Micah (7:6), is a prelude to the last times.
  14. Luke 12:54 Understanding the signs of the times means recognizing the time of salvation, the time of Jesus. No concern is more important than this, for one’s very salvation is in question.
  15. Luke 12:57 One must put one’s life in order before the judgment, for afterward it will be too late. We are urged to settle disputes quickly in accord with Gospel values. Matthew will turn this text into an inducement to fraternal charity (Mt 5:25-26).

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