Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 13:10-17 - World English Bible

10 Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day. 11 Behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and she was bent over, and could in no way straighten herself up. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her, and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." 13 He laid his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight, and glorified God.

14 The ruler of the synagogue, being indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the multitude, "There are six days in which men ought to work. Therefore come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day!"

15 Therefore the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each one of you free his ox or his donkey from the stall on the Sabbath, and lead him away to water? 16 Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound eighteen long years, be freed from this bondage on the Sabbath day?"

17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were disappointed, and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

Jesus shifted from the need to repent towards an act of mercy on the Sabbath. He healed a woman who suffered from a debilitating malady, but came to the synagogue to learn. He saw her, called her and freed her. The synagogue leader objected over the spirit of the Law; there was no specific edict that prohibits healing on the Sabbath in the Torah. Still, Jesus defended his actions with well known and assumed exceptions to the general prohibition on Sabbath work. He also raised the woman up as a "daughter of Abraham," not only for her status as a Jew but for her presence in the synagogue. His actions on the Sabbath split the leaders from the crowd, those who sought to destroy him vs. those who saw his ministry and praised God for it.

He saw, he called, he freed. As Jesus did for the woman, he does for us. Like the woman, he raises us up, not to be sons and daughters of Abraham, but children of his Father in heaven.

How has Jesus seen you, called you and freed you?

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Tuesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 13:18-21 - World English Bible

18 Jesus said, "What is God's Kingdom like? To what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and put in his own garden. It grew, and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky live in its branches."

20 Again he said, "To what shall I compare God's Kingdom? 21 It is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened."

After a miracle controversy, Jesus gave two short parables about the Kingdom: the mustard seed and the leavened bread. In both cases, the little amount caused a huge change; the tiny addition was almost hidden, yet the results were unmistakable. In analogies like these, he differed from many of his contemporaries who envisioned the coming Kingdom as a historically changing event of cosmic proportions: the great revolution or the apocalyptic battle between the "sons of light" and the "sons of darkness." While those shifts in history could occur, the seeds of these events remained out of sight. But, what were those agents of change? The appearance of a rural preacher from Galilee and his message, Jesus and the Good News.

How do you plant the seeds of the Good News with others?

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Wednesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 13:22-30 - World English Bible

22 Jesus went on his way through cities and villages, teaching, and traveling on to Jerusalem. 23 One said to him, "Lord, are they few who are saved?"

He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter in by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter in, and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen up, and has shut the door, and you begin to stand outside, and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' then he will answer and tell you, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' 26 Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' 27 He will say, 'I tell you, I don't know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.' 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets, in God's Kingdom, and yourselves being thrown outside. 29 They will come from the east, west, north, and south, and will sit down in God's Kingdom. 30 Behold, there are some who are last who will be first, and there are some who are first who will be last."

Are the few saved? That reminds me of an old joke, "Jesus loves you, but I'm his favorite." Of course, that smacks of exclusivity; my buddies and I are saved, the rest of you are lost. At it's root, however, lies a far more serious question: what is the nature of God's assembly?

Jesus answered by rejecting exclusivity. Salvation was not a matter of birthright. He continued with the image of the narrow door and the parable of the closed household. Cities built narrow doors (actually short in height) to deny attackers on horseback; one had to dismount and lead the horse into the city. So, one could not take heaven by force; it was a gift. The parable presented a patriarch who denied admittance to those who did not have a relationship with him. A simple acquaintance was not enough. Salvation demanded intimacy that even the Gentiles could have by faith. God meant his Kingdom for all, but with a caveat: a living faith.

God assembled both saints and sinners for his Kingdom. He didn't desire just self-proclaimed "favorites" but anyone humble enough to receive his grace with gratitude.

How do you thank God for his grace in your life?

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Thursday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 13:31-35 - World English Bible

31 On that same day, some Pharisees came, saying to Jesus, "Get out of here, and go away, for Herod wants to kill you."

32 He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I complete my mission. 33 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, for it can't be that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.'

34 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, like a hen gathers her own brood under her wings, and you refused! 35 Behold, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

On his way to Jerusalem, Pharisees warned Jesus of Herod's intent to treat him just like the Baptist (Luke 9:7-9). He answered with two prophecies separated by a lament. First, he would continue his mission for two days and complete it on the third, just like his death and resurrection. Between the two prophecies, he cried out for the capital, the place of his demise. Jerusalem gloried its Temple but had the blood of the prophets on its hands. Jesus tried to "gather its children" with his preaching but the city refused; that rejection would lead to his destruction (its family or "house" left desolate). He ended with a second prophecy, this one about his entrance into the city (Luke 19:28b-40). The people would welcome him with the beatitude "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" This verse from Psalm 118:26 praised the king when the siege of the capital broke, forcing enemies to retreat; it recognized the presence of the Messiah. Taken together, this passage affirmed the Lord's vision of his place as the Christ; the people would recognize him, but would reject his message and kill him.

Reflect on the place of Christ in your life. How is he the Messiah?

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Friday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 14:1-6 - World English Bible

1 When Jesus went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him. 2 Behold, a certain man who had dropsy was in front of him. 3 Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"

4 But they were silent.

He took him, and healed him, and let him go. 5 He answered them, "Which of you, if your son or an ox fell into a well, wouldn't immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?"

6 They couldn't answer him regarding these things.

In the beginning of Luke 14, a Pharisee invited Jesus to dine on the Sabbath in order to judge him. At the dinner, he healed a man with dropsy, a painful swelling of soft tissue due to the accumulation of excess water (usually in the legs). Then, he cut to the core of the controversy, "Is is lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" There was no point of the Law to discuss, per se, because the Torah had no such prohibition against healing of the Sabbath. When he asked the question, he posed a larger issue. Was it in the spirit of the Torah to reveal God's power on God's day? If the leaders answered "Yes," they ceded their power over the Law, for they would recognize God's revelation outside of their area of expertise. They could not adjudicate such an event, so they would have to sideline themselves. They would have to recognize a greater authority in the Law than themselves; that authority was Jesus. For good measure, the Lord asked a rhetorical question that allowed for works of mercy on the Sabbath. At the end, he boxed his opponents in. Any judgment they made on him, then, came from a point of weakness.

Did you see a hint of God's power last Sunday? How did that vision inspire you?

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Saturday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 14:1, 7-11 - World English Bible

1 When Jesus went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him.

7 He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats, and said to them, 8 "When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, don't sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honorable than you might be invited by him, 9 and he who invited both of you would come and tell you, 'Make room for this person.' Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, 'Friend, move up higher.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

After Jesus challenged his Pharisee host on the question of a Sabbath healing, he offered advice on banquet manners. In these verses, he spoke to the guest. Like many events today, social dinners could be opportunities for social "networking," power politics and business deals. People gathered to see and be seen. And, like banquets today, where one sat could make a difference. In the time of Jesus, the most important people sat close to the host, while the least important sat furthest away. In a honor-shame society like that of first century Palestine, importance conferred honor. If someone tried to sit above his place in the social peaking order, he risked shame if the host asked him to sit in a lower seat. Better, according to Jesus, to sit at the lowest seat so the host will honor the person. Notice the subtle shift from banquet manners to the Lord's philosophy of leadership. Lead through humility and service. Those who were humble would be exalted. As a corollary to his moral, the disciple should act at every social event as if he attended the banquet of the Kingdom.

How can you see the Kingdom in the dinners you attend?

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