Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 18:35-43 - World English Bible

35 As Jesus came near Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the road, begging. 36 Hearing a multitude going by, he asked what this meant. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 He cried out, "Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!" 39 Those who led the way rebuked him, that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "You son of David, have mercy on me!"

40 Standing still, Jesus commanded him to be brought to him. When he had come near, he asked him, 41 "What do you want me to do?"

He said, "Lord, that I may see again."

42 Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you."

43 Immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, praised God.

In Luke 18, a blind man called out to Jesus as "son of David." From this title, the man assumed the Lord had the power to heal him. Most modern believers think the title referred to linage from the house of David, but they fail to realize that many (if not most) ancient Jews would have claim the great Israeli king as an ancestor; for them it was a matter of pride. (By the way, if you are of European descent, you are probably have Charlemagne in your genealogical background.) If the title had cache beyond bragging rights, what did the man mean by "son of David?"

The blind addressed Jesus as a Solomon figure, the son of David who ruled with power based upon the divine gift of wisdom. In this sense, both the message and healing of the Nazarene found its basis in God's Spirit, the prophetic dynamism behind figures like Elijah and Elisha who demonstrated the wisdom of God in word and miraculous deed. Through this lens, Solomon himself was a prophet, at least in his early years.

The blind man called out to this "son of David" for mercy, challenging him to hear his request, almost shaming him for a miracle. In other words, the man seemed to say, "If you are a Solomon figure, if you have God's wisdom, then you have divine power. Heal me." The crowd rebuked the man, but the Lord gladly obliged and, as a result, gained a new follower.

How have you asked the Lord for his wisdom and the power that accompanies it?`

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Tuesday in the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 19:1-10 - World English Bible

1 Jesus entered and was passing through Jericho. 2 There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, and couldn't because of the crowd, because he was short. 4 He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house." 6 He hurried, came down, and received him joyfully. 7 When they saw it, they all murmured, saying, "He has gone in to lodge with a man who is a sinner."

8 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much."

9 Jesus said to him, "Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost."

Luke 19 presented the story of Zacchaeus, the short, "chief" tax collector. (The term "chief" meant either he was in charge of other collectors in an organization or he was simply a very rich tax man). Notice the author juxtaposed two images. Zacchaeus was a small (in stature) but big man (in status); people looked down upon him but respected and feared him. He was small enough to act like a child to climb the tree to see Jesus over the crowd, yet man enough to change his life in the presence of the Lord and declare openly his metanoia. He would give half the money he extorted from the poor back to the needy; the people he cheated he would repay four times. He gave up his hard earned status for the Lord. All this simply because Jesus wanted to have lunch with him and his family.

The presence of Jesus changes us. He seeks us when we are lost and offers us a saving hand, just like he did for Zacchaeus.

How has the presence of Jesus changed your life this week?

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Wednesday in the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 19:11-28 - World English Bible

11 Jesus went on and told a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that God's Kingdom would be revealed immediately. 12 He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 He called ten servants of his, and gave them ten mina coins, and told them, 'Conduct business until I come.' 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent an envoy after him, saying, 'We don't want this man to reign over us.'

15 "When he had come back again, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by conducting business. 16 The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made ten more minas.'

17 "He said to him, 'Well done, you good servant! Because you were found faithful with very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.'

18 "The second came, saying, 'Your mina, Lord, has made five minas.'

19 "So he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' 20 Another came, saying, 'Lord, behold, your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief, 21 for I feared you, because you are an exacting man. You take up that which you didn't lay down, and reap that which you didn't sow.'

22 "He said to him, 'Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant! You knew that I am an exacting man, taking up that which I didn't lay down, and reaping that which I didn't sow. 23 Then why didn't you deposit my money in the bank, and at my coming, I might have earned interest on it?' 24 He said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina away from him, and give it to him who has the ten minas.'

25 "They said to him, 'Lord, he has ten minas!' 26 'For I tell you that to everyone who has, will more be given; but from him who doesn't have, even that which he has will be taken away from him. 27 But bring those enemies of mine who didn't want me to reign over them here, and kill them before me.'" 28 Having said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus told the parable of the mina, a Greek coin common in first century AD and worth about three months wages. In the story, a nobleman went off to secure himself a kingdom through imperial patronage. Besides Persia, Rome controlled the known world at the time; any kingdom within that world would have been a client state for the Empire, not unlike Herod's Palestine. Indeed, the people sent envoys to the imperial court to plead for relief from the aspiring despot.

Before the nobleman left, he gave three servants minas to invest, not unlike the parable of the Ten Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Notice the difference between the two parables, however. In Luke's account, the three servants received a total of ten minas to invest, but the first servant returned ten minas to his master, the second servant returned five; the new king rewarded the servants with regional power, the first over ten cities, the second over five cities. The reward clearly outweighed the task given to the servants. But, like Matthew's account, the last servant received punishment for returning his mina out of fear. In a twist to Luke's ending, the new king had his opponents executed in his presence.

The tone of the parable left an uneasy sense, reflecting a belief in the coming end times. Luke saw Jesus as the noble Son who left to secure the Kingdom. He entrusted his disciples with a treasure and a task, the message of salvation and the duty to evangelize. To those who spread the Good News and succeeded, Christ would give power; to the lazy, he would give nothing. In the end, he would defeat the dark powers that opposed him.

How have you evangelized others this week?

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Thursday in the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 19:41-44 - World English Bible

41 When Jesus came near, he saw Jerusalem and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you, even you, had known today the things which belong to your peace! But now, they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come on you, when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, surround you, hem you in on every side, 44 and will dash you and your children within you to the ground. They will not leave in you one stone on another, because you didn't know the time of your visitation."

What belongs to one's peace? For the contemporaries of Jesus, peace meant "Shalom," the sense of God's presence. The things of Shalom he referred to were the acts of YHWH that accompanied the Good News. Yet, the populace of Jerusalem remained apathetic to his message and ministry.

Christians of the late first century drew a line between the blindness of the people to Jesus and their destruction with the fall of the capital in 70 AD. Luke 19:43-44 describe that judgment. The siege of Titus and the Roman legions, the violence against the people after the city's defenses collapsed and the devastation visited upon its structures all summed up the view that people ignored God's offer of salvation.

While we moderns might not take such a harsh look on the fall of Jerusalem, we should acknowledge this assertion is part of our tradition. At the same time, we should realize the Jews are our brothers and sisters before the God we worship. For all of us, Shalom comes from the same source.

How do you realize Shalom in your life today?

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Friday in the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 19:45-48 - World English Bible

45 Jesus entered into the temple, and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, "It is written, 'My house is a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of robbers'!"

47 He was teaching daily in the temple, but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people sought to destroy him. 48 They couldn't find what they might do, for all the people hung on to every word that he said.

The Cleansing of the Temple episode appeared in all four gospel (Mark 11:15-19, Matthew 21:12-17, Luke 19:45-20:8 and John 2:13-16); the incident occurred towards the end of the Synoptics but at the beginning of John. Since experts haven't discovered the exact location of the Temple on the Mount due to Muslim presence in the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque, the place of the event remained unknown, but clearly Herod developed the area as an agora (or marketplace) and the merchants who served the religious pilgrims had a choice place near the Temple. Some scholars have even speculated businessmen paid franchise fees to the Temple priests for the right to sell animals to sacrifice and to change money for visitors to worship in the holy site.

Jesus entered the Temple area (the courtyard leading into the Temple called the "Court of the Gentiles?") and violently upset commerce, citing Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 for his rationale. For many people, such a cleansing marked the identity of the Messiah, the holy man who would clear the corrupt leadership from the Temple and establish a pure line of priests for righteous worship. Such was the reason the Essene community at Qumran; they saw themselves as the gathering of pure priests who would replace the existing hierarchy and return cult to its former purity.

The incident raised Jesus' stature among the people, but also set the stage for his passion and death.

What does the Cleansing of the Temple mean in your life?

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Saturday in the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 20:27-40 - World English Bible

27 Some of the Sadducees came to Jesus, those who deny that there is a resurrection. 28 They asked him, "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. 29 There were therefore seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died childless. 30 The second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 The third took her, and likewise the seven all left no children, and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them will she be? For the seven had her as a wife."

34 Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. 36 For they can't die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord 'The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' 38 Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him."

39 Some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you speak well." 40 They didn't dare to ask him any more questions.

In the series of controversies at the Temple, Jesus engaged his opponents. In this encounter, he debated belief in the resurrection of the dead with the Sadducees. This group of priests and city officials launched a "reductio ad absurdum" attack, using a duty in the Law to create a condition that broke the Law. Deuteronomy 25:5 imposed an obligation upon a man to marry the widow of his heirless brother to continue that brother's line. If a line of brothers died without a son, then rose, their existence would create a condition of adultery (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18). After all, who could claim the woman as his wife? Since, YHWH would not allow a law to break another (the Law was perfect, see Psalm 19:8), he would not create such a condition. Hence, according to their logic, there was no resurrection.

Jesus countered in two ways. First, he denied the existence of marriage in the afterlife, thereby denying the Sadducees of their premise. Second, he grounded the afterlife in the initial revelation of YHWH, the speaking of his holy name when Moses encountered the burning bush. Jews worshiped their deity as the "living God" and those who gave him praise were alive for him. In other words, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived (imagine the Sadducees claiming the fathers of their faith died; implicitly, they would claim their God died with their fathers in faith). If they lived, so would the just at the end of time in the resurrection of the dead.

Reflect on the resurrection of the dead. How does that tenet of the faith strengthen you?

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