Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Twenty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 7:1-10 - World English Bible

1 After Jesus had finished speaking in the hearing of the people, he entered into Capernaum. 2 A certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and at the point of death. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and save his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they begged him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy for you to do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he built our synagogue for us." 6 Jesus went with them. When he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof. 7 Therefore I didn't even think myself worthy to come to you; but say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, "Go!' and he goes; and to another, "Come!' and he comes; and to my servant, "Do this,' and he does it."

9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude who followed him, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith, no, not in Israel." 10 Those who were sent, returning to the house, found that the servant who had been sick was well.

From his dialogue on discipleship in Luke 6, Jesus went to Capernaum and encountered what today Jews would title a "righteous Gentile," a man who honored YHWH and gave support to his people. The irony of the man, of course, was his rank in an occupying military force; the Roman army had a reputation for extortion and cruelty, making them both feared and hated among the populace. As a centurion, the man commanded anywhere between 50 to 200 soldiers and made up to seventeen times more than the men he led. This officer dealt favorably with the people, even acting as a benefactor for the local synagogue.

The man desired a healing for his servant. When Jesus offered to visit the officer's house, the man demurred, implicitly sensitive to the scandal it might cause. If the Lord entered a Gentile's house, he became unclean. But, the man took the encounter a step further, flipping the social order; Jesus, the proclaimer of God's message, had more honor than that of a Roman centurion. In the officer's mind, the Lord only had to give the word and, like a military order descending the chain of command, the task would get done. Jesus marveled at the honor and trust the centurion gave him, in turn raising the man's status above that of any Jew he met, for this Gentile embodied the qualities the Lord wanted in a disciple: humility and unwavering faith.

How have you honored the Lord this week?

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Tuesday in the Twenty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 7:11-17 - World English Bible

11 Soon afterwards, Jesus went to a city called Nain. Many of his disciples, along with a great multitude, went with him. 12 Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, one who was dead was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. Many people of the city were with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, "Don't cry." 14 He came near and touched the coffin, and the bearers stood still. He said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!" 15 He who was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.

16 Fear took hold of all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and, "God has visited his people!" 17 This report went out concerning him in the whole of Judea, and in all the surrounding region.

In Luke 7, Jesus visited another community, where he encountered a funeral procession. More to the point, the large crowd of followers melted with a town in mourning. This gathering provided a perfect opportunity for a sign from God that would spread faith. Here, a widow lost her only son, the last male who could provider her material and emotional support; with his loss, she could find herself homeless. Jesus felt sorry for the woman, halted the procession and raised the son to life. Notice the foreshadowing of the Lord's own Resurrection; like the young man, he, too, was an only Son who would rise to new life and cause renewed faith in God. The miracle resulted in an outburst of praise and had a ripple effect in evangelization.

How has God worked in your life? How is that a cause for praise and spreading the Good News?

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Wednesday in the Twenty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 7:31-35 - World English Bible

Jesus said to the crowd:

31 "To what then will I liken the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children who sit in the marketplace, and call to one another, saying, "We piped to you, and you didn't dance. We mourned, and you didn't weep.' 33 For John the Baptizer came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, "He has a demon.' 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, "Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard; a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' 35 Wisdom is justified by all her children."

In Luke 7, Jesus critiqued the Pharisees and scribes, for they did not seek repentance in John's baptism. Their generation wouldn't respond to God's call, neither "dancing" to the Lord's "tune" nor mourning at the injustice of sin. Instead, they stood on the sidelines to play the critic, judging John for his spiritual austerity and Jesus for his lack of discipline, even enjoying the company of sinners. In their eyes, neither rated, for John and Jesus were too extreme. Jesus retorted with a challenge; judge us by results, not by methods. Both the Lord and the Baptist led people back to God. The Pharisees and scribes prided themselves on leading by example, but what sort of example did they give? What were their results?

What do you do to bring others to closer to God?

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Thursday in the Twenty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 7:36-50 - World English Bible

36 One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. He entered into the Pharisee's house, and sat at the table. 37 Behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that he was reclining in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 Standing behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what kind of woman this is who touches him, that she is a sinner."

40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

He said, "Teacher, say on."

41 "A certain lender had two debtors. The one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they couldn't pay, he forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him most?"

43 Simon answered, "He, I suppose, to whom he forgave the most."

He said to him, "You have judged correctly." 44 Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave me no kiss, but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You didn't anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." 48 He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

49 Those who sat at the table with him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

50 He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Jesus lived in two worlds, one of the righteous, one of the sinner. He invited the sinner to repent and enter the realm of the saved. The Pharisees who claimed the sphere of the holy ejected the sinner into the outer world, into quarantine, then drew a broad, sharp line between those on the inside where God dwelt and those on the outside where only darkness loomed. The holy vs. the profane, the righteous vs. the sinner, the clean vs. the unclean. In the time of Jesus, Jews saw society in those terms. Jesus had the audacity of erasing that line and creating a community of saved sinners.

The story of the repentant prostitute was a case in point. Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, thus inviting the Lord into the home of a righteous man. But, this sinful woman violated that sanctuary when she entered to wash the feet of the Lord; when she touched the Lord, she made him unclean. Of course this raised eyebrows, but Jesus responded with a parable about a lender who forgave a debt. That story acted as a metaphor for the forgiveness the woman sought. But, just to drive the point home, the Lord chided Simon for his lack of hospitality, implying that the woman's repentance acted as hospitality. When the woman sought forgiveness, she welcomed Jesus into her life; she became a disciple.

How do we break down walls between people? Jesus showed us the way. Extend forgiveness and express repentance through hospitality. In essence, they are all the same.

How do you reach out to others? How does that outreach involve forgiveness, repentance and hospitality?

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Friday in the Twenty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 8:1-3 - World English Bible

1 Soon afterwards, he went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of God's Kingdom. With him were the twelve, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuzas, Herod's steward; Susanna; and many others; who served them from their possessions.

In these few verses from Luke 8, the author listed the leading women among the followers of Jesus: Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna. Notice there was a pecking order; the woman from Magdala whom the Lord exorcised led the others. Also notice Joanna's place in society; this woman was married to a man of influence and wealth. Indeed, Luke listed the women not only for their leadership abilities but also for their riches; they had the money and the social means to get things done (8:3c).

Lastly, we should not connect Mary with the prostitute who washed the feet of Jesus in 7:36-50. The association came about in the sixth century with Pope Gregory the Great; no historical evidence existed before this time about the connection between the two figures.

Which women in your personal experience have made a difference in your faith life?

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Saturday in the Twenty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 8:4-15 - World English Bible

4 When a great multitude came together, and people from every city were coming to Jesus, he spoke by a parable. 5 "The farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the road, and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the sky devoured it. 6 Other seed fell on the rock, and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 Other fell amid the thorns, and the thorns grew with it, and choked it. 8 Other fell into the good ground, and grew, and produced one hundred times as much fruit." As he said these things, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

9 Then his disciples asked him, "What does this parable mean?"

10 He said, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of God's Kingdom, but to the rest in parables; that "seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.' 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the road are those who hear, then the devil comes, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, who believe for a while, then fall away in time of temptation. 14 That which fell among the thorns, these are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 That in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it tightly, and produces fruit with patience."

After the mention of the female leadership in Luke 8:1-3, Jesus addressed the crowd with the parable of the Sower and the Seed. In this familiar story, the farmer tossed seed indiscriminately over the road, on the rocks, among thorn plants and on fertile soil. I've noted before this parable captured the people's attention because of its absurdity. No farmer in the time of Jesus would waste precious seed in this matter; tenant workers gave the vast majority of the crop to the owner (usually a Gentile), set aside enough for his family, then saved the little that was left for the following year's planting; any hope of producing a yield more than two or three times the size of the planting was a pipe-dream. Yet, in the parable, the farmer wasted the seed and received a harvest a hundred times larger!

When Jesus explained the parable, he addressed both intent and result (or lack of result). Hardhearted people (like the road) could not receive God's word; the devil swept it away. People with shallow character (like the rocks) got excited initially in the new faith, but, when the novelty wore off, wandered off to find the next thrill. Anxious people (like the thorn plants) became believers but did not grow, due to the constant worries of daily living. People of good character (like the good soil) produced a bountiful harvest because the Word took deep root. Implicitly, the faithful disciple (the good soil) became the productive missionary (an abundance harvest to seed others with God's Word).

In life, we've all been the road, the rocks, the thorn plants and the good soil. What sort of soil are you right now in your faith walk?

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