Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Thirty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:1-6 - World English Bible

1 Jesus said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no occasions of stumbling should come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be careful. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in the day, and seven times returns, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."

5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."

6 The Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you would tell this sycamore tree, 'Be uprooted, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."

Luke 17 begins with a opaque sentence that one can translate, "It's impossible that a believer does not stumble into sin, but woe to him when sin happens." Jesus pointed out the obvious. Everyone sins, but if the sin is public, the sinner faces shame and the name "Christian" becomes scandalous. Then, he followed up with a statement expressed in the extreme to punch up his point. It's better to die than to cause scandal among the innocent in the community (the "little ones").

Jesus continued with a discussion on forgiveness. If a fellow Christian sins against you, tell him about it. If he apologizes, forgive him, even if he always sins against you and always apologies ("seven times" had the symbolic meaning of "always").

How was such forgiveness possible? "Give us more faith," the apostles begged, so they could set aside sin. Jesus replied with the parable of the uprooted sycamore tree. In other words, the power of faith they has was enough to accomplish the task.

Do you pray for more faith, especially when you need to forgive another? How has God answered your prayer?

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Tuesday in the Thirty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:7-10 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

7 "Who is there among you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say, when he comes in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down at the table,' 8 and will not rather tell him, 'Prepare my supper, clothe yourself properly, and serve me, while I eat and drink. Afterward you shall eat and drink'? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded? I think not. 10 Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty.'"

After the disciples requested Jesus for a stronger faith, he replied they already possessed sufficient faith. Then, he addressed the place of his followers as humble servants. In this parable, the householder did not return to serve but to be served; the help could only reply about their unworthiness and their duty.

Sometimes people mistake strength of faith with pride. In this sense, they reduce faith to certain behaviors. St. Paul wrote the community at Corinth about the extent and abuse of charisms. Some today equate the strength of faith with the sure attitude that comes from certainty. Yes, there is a place for exercising charisms and a time for correcting the mistaken, but faith must be rooted in charity. Such faith requires humility, for the Spirit works in ways unknown and there are much smarter Christians in the world than me or you.

How have engaged others with love today? How has that help you to evangelize them?

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Wednesday in the Thirty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:11-19 - World English Bible

11 As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered into a certain village, ten men who were lepers met him, who stood at a distance. 13 They lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

14 When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." As they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks; and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus answered, "Weren't the ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there none found who returned to give glory to God, except this stranger?" 19 Then he said to him, "Get up, and go your way. Your faith has healed you."

Luke 17 placed the healing of ten lepers in the area between Galilee (Jewish territory) and Samaria (region of heretics). The scene was remarkable, for Jesus found the diseased men of mixed background (one was a hated Samaritan) in a village (Leviticus 13:45-46 instructed the men to live alone, outside any village or hamlet) and was greeted by the men with a request (again, Leviticus 13:45 told them to warn anyone approaching with the phrase "Unclean, unclean"). But, like many other times, he ignored kosher rules to heal those in need.

The one who returned to give thanks was an unclean Samaritan. Yet, Jesus did not reject him; instead, he bypassed the place of the priest and told the man to implicitly return to his former way of life.

The passage reemphasized how Jesus placed the good of the individual over that of the rule or custom. He came to save, not to punish.

How have you helped others, even in the face of violating the rules?

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Thursday in the Thirty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:20-25 - World English Bible

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when God's Kingdom would come, Jesus answered them, "God's Kingdom doesn't come with observation; 21 neither will they say, 'Look, here!' or, 'Look, there!' for behold, God's Kingdom is within you."

22 He said to the disciples, "The days will come, when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 They will tell you, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Don't go away, nor follow after them, 24 for as the lightning, when it flashes out of the one part under the sky, shines to the other part under the sky; so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first, he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation."

Everyone looks for a sign, an omen of bad times coming or a shining light that gives hope to the glory ahead. They seek the EVENT that changes everything. Of course, most of the time, people muddle through. The only sign they see is the obvious situation they find themselves in.

Pharisees challenged Jesus for a sign, for that event of God's power that would validate his message. "When will the Kingdom come?" they asked, almost sneering. But he placed the Kingdom right back in their lap. "God is present, so there's your sign," he implied with the same tag line that the talented and funny comedian Bill Engvall used as a punchline when the ridiculous became the obvious. Of course, his opponents missed the point.

Among his disciples, Jesus took up the human urge to seek a sign of coming events. On the one hand, he insisted that, after his suffering and death, the Son of Man would return, but not in a way people could anticipate. On the other hand, he would come again, in an instant, in the blink of an eye. The person who based his faith on seeking sign would only find disappointment. The true disciple did not actively pursue such omens; they lived their lives confident the Lord would return in glory, but, until then, showed charity to others.

How have you ignored the urge to seek signs?

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Friday in the Thirty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:26-37 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

26 "As it was in the days of Noah, even so will it be also in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, even as it was in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from the sky, and destroyed them all. 30 It will be the same way in the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 In that day, he who will be on the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away. Let him who is in the field likewise not turn back. 32 Remember Lot's wife! 33 Whoever seeks to save his life loses it, but whoever loses his life preserves it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed. The one will be taken, and the other will be left. 35 There will be two grinding grain together. One will be taken, and the other will be left."

37 They, answering, asked him, "Where, Lord?"

He said to them, "Where the body is, there will the vultures also be gathered together."

Jesus used two figures from Scripture to describe the people's blindness to the coming of the Son of Man: Noah and Lot. In both cases, the people at the time of these two men did not see the approaching judgment, just as the generation of Jesus did not see the times of destruction coming. His advice to the faithful: flee. Escape without concern for personal possessions. Don't look back like Lot's wife. Those who remain to save their "life" (i.e., their "stuff") would lose it, but those who risk all would save it. (Notice Luke shifted the verse from the question of salvation to that of survival.) Two might work together, but one will escape (be taken). (Some Christians use this last verse to bolster their belief in the "Rapture," the notion that Jesus will come to take the Church into the "clouds" before the Tribulation, yet fail to notice that the context for the verse depended upon the prerogative of the believer.)

When the disciples ask the Lord for the location of the troubles (not the time frame), he responded with the image of the rotting caucus that attracted scavengers. This image brought his listeners full circle to the corruption of those who refused to heed his message about the coming Kingdom.

How have you heeded the message of Christ's coming?

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Saturday in the Thirty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 18:1-8 - World English Bible

1 Jesus also spoke a parable to them that they must always pray, and not give up, 2 saying, "There was a judge in a certain city who didn't fear God, and didn't respect man. 3 A widow was in that city, and she often came to him, saying, 'Defend me from my adversary!' 4 He wouldn't for a while, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God, nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will defend her, or else she will wear me out by her continual coming.'"

6 The Lord said, "Listen to what the unrighteous judge says. 7 Won't God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them quickly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

In Luke 18, Jesus chose an unusual comparison to promote persistence in prayer: God and an unjust judge. The self-absorbed magistrate finally gave into the pestering widow, just for relief from her nagging. Of course, the parable broke down on the last point; by his very nature, God could not tire from constant petition. However, was the Father of Christ either unjust or malleable like the judge in the story? (Obviously not, but that question did get the attention of his audience.)

Jesus told this story for effect and to punch up his final question. Constant petition ensured faith, but could disciples remain faithful in the face of persecution? "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

What have you asked the Lord today? How is your prayer life constant?

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