Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Twenty Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 12:13-21 - World English Bible

13 One of the multitude said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

14 But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" 15 He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses."

16 He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man produced abundantly. 17 He reasoned within himself, saying, 'What will I do, because I don't have room to store my crops?' 18 He said, 'This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 I will tell my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry."'

20 "But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

After Jesus criticized the scribes, someone in the crowd challenged him to act like a scribe, to make a legal ruling on inheritance. Whether the person acted in good faith or wanted to embarrass the Lord or paint him into a corner, we do not know. Jesus, however, rejected the question. Instead, he challenged the questioner's intentions as selfish; this led to a parable of a rich man who died poor in the eyes of God. The story and its moral were clear. Live for God, not merely for the self.

How have you fought against selfishness in your life?

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Tuesday in the Twenty Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 12:35-38 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

35 "Let your waist be dressed and your lamps burning. 36 Be like men watching for their lord, when he returns from the marriage feast; that, when he comes and knocks, they may immediately open to him. 37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord will find watching when he comes. Most certainly I tell you, that he will dress himself, and make them recline, and will come and serve them. 38 They will be blessed if he comes in the second or third watch, and finds them so. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore be ready also, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour that you don't expect him."

In these verses, Jesus urged his followers to prepare for escape, in the same way the Israelites dressed at the first Passover before they left Egypt (Exodus 12:11). Notice Luke created a parallel of anticipation for divine encounter; the Israelites journeyed to Mt. Sinai to receive the Law from YHWH, the disciples awaited the Son of Man to return in glory. "Lamps burning" shifted the anticipation to a night time scene, symbolizing the dark time of persecution.

Jesus, then, told two parables, the watchful servant and the watchful homeowner. The servants waited for the Master to return in the night but, unlike custom, the Lord would serve the servants (reminiscent of feet washing from the Last Supper in John 13:1-20.). The watchful homeowner protected his own against the thief who wanted to break in; the thief represented the Evil One. Jesus meant these parable for the leadership of the community, telling them to keep one eye for his return, the other eye against corrupting influences or lax discipline.

Jesus wanted his followers to expect him at any moment, to be ready to act (even escape persecution) and to guard against those with foul intent.

How have you prepared for the Lord's return today?

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Wednesday in the Twenty Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 12:39-48 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

39 "Know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore be ready also, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour that you don't expect him."

41 Peter said to him, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everybody?"

42 The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes. 44 Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, 'My lord delays his coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, 46 then the lord of that servant will come in a day when he isn't expecting him, and in an hour that he doesn't know, and will cut him in two, and place his portion with the unfaithful. 47 That servant, who knew his lord's will, and didn't prepare, nor do what he wanted, will be beaten with many stripes, 48 but he who didn't know, and did things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with few stripes. To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked."

Picking up from the parable of the watchful servant, Jesus continued with the parable of the watchful householder, one who kept watch for the thief (symbolizing evil people and influences within the community). After Peter's question about who the story applied to, Jesus returned to the watchful servant with a beatitude and a warning. Bless the servant who knows the Lord's will, but don't let his delay fool you or lull you into vices. What is the Lord's will? Treat those in your care with respect, otherwise, you will be destroyed. How can the disciple keep watch? Not only know the Lord's will, follow it. The greater the power, the greater the responsibility. And the greater the need to know by praying for God's guidance.

How have you prayed for God's will today?

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Thursday in the Twenty Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 12:49-53 - World English Bible

Jesus told his disciples:

49 "I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled. 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division. 52 For from now on, there will be five in one house 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 her mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

After Jesus' admonition to the leaders in the community, he stated the effect his presence and ministry would have on the world. And he stated that effect in very stark terms. As the Messiah, he would kindle the end times, but those fires would begin with his personal suffering. His Passion set off a chain reaction that would rock the very foundation of society, the clan. Faith in Christ tore families apart, pitting some against others. As Micah 7:6 predicted, evil times destroy relationships, but this only marked the beginning of the Tribulation.

How does faith in Christ alter your relationships?

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Friday in the Twenty Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 12:54-59 - World English Bible

54 Jesus said to the multitudes also, "When you see a cloud rising from the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it happens. 55 When a south wind blows, you say, 'There will be a scorching heat,' and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how is it that you don't interpret this time? 57 Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 For when you are going with your adversary before the magistrate, try diligently on the way to be released from him, lest perhaps he drag you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will by no means get out of there, until you have paid the very last penny."

In these last verses from Luke 12, Jesus turned his attention to the crowd with an admonition for the end times. People could intuit the weather: precipitation that came from the Mediterranean to the west meant rain; wind from the Negev desert to the south meant dry heat. So, why couldn't people interpret the times? Here, he shifted to a legal analogy. If you're being sued for an unpaid bill, maybe it's better to settle before you're dragged into court and the judge sentences you to debtor's prison. Of course, this parable was an analogy for the sinner's debt owed to God. In other words, Jesus implied, "Get right with God before it's too late."

Did you make an examination of conscience last night? How have you tried to get right with God lately?

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Saturday in the Twenty Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 13:1-9 - World English Bible

1 Now there were some present at the same time who told Jesus about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all perish in the same way. 4 Or those eighteen, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them; do you think that they were worse offenders than all the men who dwell in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all perish in the same way."

6 He spoke this parable. "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. 7 He said to the vine dresser, 'Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?' 8 He answered, 'Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it, and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit, fine; but if not, after that, you can cut it down.'"

Luke 13 opened with the question of evil. Several people in the crowd commented on news about some Galileans whom Pilate executed for banditry or revolutionary activities. Jesus compared those men with others who died when a tower fell on them. Were the criminals different from any other Galileans? Were they different from those who died in the accident? In God's eyes, everyone was equal; all die at some point. The Lord did not consider the justice of executing the criminal vs. the tragedy of the innocent who died when a structure collapsed. He only thought of the ultimate evil, death itself.

How should one face death? Repent. He punctuated his moral with the parable of the fruitless fig tree. The owner wanted to cut down the tree, while the gardener wanted to nurture it for another year. With the story, he flipped the question of evil on its head. Instead of asking "why do people die?", he mused, "why do people live?" Yes, everyone will face their end at some point, but, in the meantime, God gave all a chance to live to turn back to him.

Yes, we will all die, but we have a chance to live with God. That is a chance worth taking.

Repentance is a day-by-day project. What progress have you made in your efforts to turn to God?

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