Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Twenty Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 9:46-50 - World English Bible

46 There arose an argument among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus, perceiving the reasoning of their hearts, took a little child, and set him by his side, 48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this little child in my name receives me. Whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For whoever is least among you all, this one will be great."

49 John answered, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he doesn't follow with us."

50 Jesus said to him, "Don't forbid him, for he who is not against us is for us."

Who is the disciple? Is it the one who follows Jesus most faithfully? Or is it the outsider who invokes the name of the Lord in times of need? Jesus answered the question with the image of the child and the importance of evangelization.

Jesus stood a child in the midst of the disciples to answer their ambitions. Who was the greatest? This was not only a question of power but of the right to glory, not only an inquiry into command but a demand for reputation. Of course, the disciples asked the wrong question, for the road to leadership and reputation led through service. The one who extended hospitality (received the "little one") because he followed the Lord exercised leadership. In other words, greatness was not a matter of position but one of charity.

But, what of the folk healer who merely invoked the name of Jesus to expel demons? The Lord answered the question terms of practicality. Spreading the name of Jesus (evangelization) mattered more than the membership status of the person who resorted to the name. Even the outsider could extend the reputation of the Son of Man and their efforts shouldn't be stifled.

So who is the disciple? He was the person who spreads the Good News, both in powerful word and in loving deed.

How have you been a disciple of Jesus today?

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Tuesday in the Twenty Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 9:51-56 - World English Bible

51 It came to pass, when the days were near that Jesus should be taken up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before his face. They went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him. 53 They didn't receive him, because he was traveling with his face set towards Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky, and destroy them, just as Elijah did?"

55 But he turned and rebuked them, "You don't know of what kind of spirit you are. 56 For the Son of Man didn't come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

In these verses from Luke 9, the author mentioned the word "face" several times. As in English, the term meant more than a physical part of the head; it denoted intent and presence. When he set his "face" toward Jerusalem, he intended to travel there (9:51, 53), knowing what he would endure there; in English, he "faced" the challenge of presenting himself to the leaders in the capital. "Face" also meant presence; he sent disciples to declare his arrival in a Samaritan town (9:52); he intended to "face" the crowd. Notice that the translation treats "face" as a noun, but common English used it as a verb; also notice the meanings of intent and presence could blur together; "to "face" someone could mean both terms.

Because Jesus intended to travel to the city of David, the Samaritans who rejected Judaism rejected him. Knowing they shared in the power of the Lord, James and John wanted to rain down fire on their enemies, like the image of Sodom and Gomorrah receiving destruction (Genesis 19) and like Elijah calling down fire to receive his sacrifice when he challenged the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18). Jesus rejected their request; as the Son of Man, he came to save, not to destroy.

When Jesus faces us, he intends to save us by being present to us. That phrase sums us the Catholic faith.

How do you want to face Jesus today?

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Wednesday in the Twenty Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 9:57-62 - World English Bible

57 As they went on the way, a certain man said to Jesus, "I want to follow you wherever you go, Lord."

58 Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

59 He said to another, "Follow me!"

But he said, "Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father."

60 But Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce God's Kingdom."

61 Another also said, "I want to follow you, Lord, but first allow me to say good-bye to those who are at my house."

62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for God's Kingdom."

What does it take to follow Jesus? During his lifetime, some volunteered to become disciples, while the Lord asked many to join him on his journeys. The willing needed to know the risks, while the asked needed to make a firm commitment. Following Jesus meant uncertainty, no place to call home. It also meant no hesitation, placing the necessity of spreading the Good News above the demands of family. Faith demands a steady will and a single heart.

On a scale of one to ten, how would you measure your faith commitment today?

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Thursday in the Twenty Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 10:1-12 - World English Bible

1 Now after these things, the Lord also appointed seventy others, and sent them two by two ahead of him into every city and place, where he was about to come. 2 Then he said to them, "The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways. Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry no purse, nor wallet, nor sandals. Greet no one on the way. 5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' 6 If a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in that same house, eating and drinking the things they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Don't go from house to house. 8 Into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat the things that are set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are therein, and tell them, 'God's Kingdom has come near to you.' 10 But into whatever city you enter, and they don't receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 'Even the dust from your city that clings to us, we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that God's Kingdom has come near to you.' 12 I tell you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city."

As he made his way toward Jerusalem in Luke 10, Jesus sent out advance parties to prepare for his visits. The advance men (numbering 70) extended the mobile ministry of the Messiah, bringing them the Good News and healing. He first prayed for a workers in a "great harvest" then instructed them to travel light, both to wisely avoid tempting thieves (no purse, wallet or extra sandals) and to go with speed (greeting no one along the way).

When they arrived, he wanted them to give the family where they stayed the peace of God. 10:5-6 indicated this "Shalom" was a gift given to patriarch of the host clan who openly received the Good News (a "son of peace); if the man rejected the proclamation of the Kingdom, the peace would return to the giver. In other words, like the Good News and healing, this gift stood apart from the giver and had a power of its own, for it was the Word of God that came down from heaven and had an effect on earth (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Jesus wanted these "apostles" to remain with the host family as a base of operation in the hamlet, being good guests (10:7-8) and evangelizing them in word and healing deed (10:9). If the village rejected them, he wanted them to reject the people with an insult (shaking off the dust and giving them a warning in 10:11). Their sin exceeded that of Sodom, a heavy judgment on them, indeed.

Implicitly, Jesus wants us to go and spread the Good News. We might not travel to the next town and depend upon the hospitality of strangers, but he expects us to evangelize in word and deed. Not everyone will accept our message, but, like the 70, at least we tried.

How have you shared the Good News today?

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Friday in the Twenty Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 10:13-16 - World English Bible

Jesus told his followers:

13 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. 15 You, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. 16 Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me. Whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me."

After Jesus instructed seventy advance men to prepare his way, he told them to condemn the hamlets that rejected his message. In these verses, he continued with his own judgment on the Jewish towns where he preached and healed. He compared these communities to the Gentile cities on the Mediterranean coast and found them wanting. He even condemned the fishing town that acted as his home base of operations. All these failed to receive his message and, by extension, the word of his Father. If others rejected the ministry of these missionaries, they rejected Jesus and YHWH. Notice the theme of sending. The Father send the Son who sent his followers. Salvation and condemnation hinged on receiving the message of those sent out.

What message did God send you today? Did you receive his messenger with joy?

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Saturday in the Twenty Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 10:17-24 - World English Bible

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"

18 Jesus said to them, "I saw Satan having fallen like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will in any way hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, don't rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

21 In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight."

22 Turning to the disciples, he said, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is, except the Father, and who the Father is, except the Son, and he to whomever the Son desires to reveal him."

23 Turning to the disciples, he said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see, 24 for I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see the things which you see, and didn't see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and didn't hear them."

When the seventy returned, they marveled at the power of Jesus' name over demons. This implied two points: 1) in ancient society, one's name revealed one's presence and power, and 2) the exorcisms by the disciples foreshadowed the cosmic battle for the end times. The seventy acted as an extension of Jesus himself; their fight over evil became his. Indeed, the fall of Satan at the beginning of time (Isaiah 14:12-14) would repeat at the end of days (Revelation 20:7-10). The seventy stood as the vanguard of God's army in the battle before the final judgment.

In response to their news, Jesus thanked his Father for his revelation, a wisdom not like that of the world. Notice the Father's message was for the children, the least in society, thus upending the expectations of the learned and self proclaimed "wise." The Lord gave that message to his disciples, words of Kingdom that "prophets and kings" longed to hear, a revelation of intimacy between the Father and his Son.

If we experience the intimacy of the Son with his Father, we encounter the power of God. How have you sensed that power in your life today?

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