Chapters 11-13 of Luke’s Gospel highlight the growing opposition to the person of Jesus. The charge of healing by the power of Beelzebul, non-observance of prescribed washings, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, are just some of the examples of the opposition encountered. Nonetheless, the reign of God, namely, God’s presence and working, continued to grow in the lives of the disciples.
Ephesians 6:1-9; Luke 13:22-30
Today's first reading to the Ephesians contains good advice to this early Christian community about establishing a social order that will lead to a peaceful existence. There is wise guidance for families regarding respectful behavior towards one another, both parents and children. The directives given to slaves and their masters contain the same expectations we have today of the workplace. It might read something like this: "Employees, give your employer your best efforts always, not just when they are watching; don't hang out in the break room for long periods of time. Employers, treat your employees honestly and fairly; give them a just wage and do not take advantage of them." Why? Because in God's eyes we are equal. It all seems straightforward and reasonable.
Yes, people should keep the Sabbath holy. Yes, people should get a day off. But people should also do what’s right, and that doesn’t always involve just following the rules. In the first reading, we are told that we are not to live by the flesh, but by God. We are about following God’s rules, not necessarily man’s laws. And yes, keeping the Sabbath holy is one of God’s laws, but there’s a bigger picture to it. And it’s more about doing the right thing than about following the letter of the law.
Jer 31:7-9; Hebr 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, he is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. Mk 10:46-52
** Do we recognize and identify the blindness within us that needs to be healed? Do we turn to Jesus and say, “Master, I want to see” (Mk 10:51)?
** In our experience of blindness and hopelessness, do we have the courage and the faith to cry out with Bartimaeus: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me” (Mk 10:47)?
** When Jesus sees us by the wayside and calls us to himself, what is our response? Do we throw aside the cloak of our old habits, get up, and run to meet him? Do we follow him on the way?
Ephesians 4:7-16; Luke 13:1-9
In the reading for today, Paul tells the Ephesians about the unique gifts God has given each so that they might fulfill God’s plan. Just as it was for the Ephesians, it is up to each of us to discern what God is calling us to do with those gifts. This is a lifelong process, not just the call to a certain profession or way of life, but the many calls within that profession or way of life and the calls in all of our activities and encounters with others.
In the Gospel, Jesus is reminding his listeners that they are good at predicting the weather from present “appearances of the earth and the skies.” Since this is so, Jesus warns us that it would be hypocritical refusing to foresee and not to predict the results of our cowardly conduct. And the hypocrisy becomes critical when our conscience refuses to control these divisive tendencies.
Ephesians 2:12-22; Luke 12:35-38
Today we hear about waiting, something we don’t often hear or like to hear in our fast-paced, twenty-first century lives. We are so used to instant gratification today in our communication with family and friends, in the news we read, and in finding the answer to any question we might have. Most of the time, we want answers and we want them now! But Luke’s Gospel today tells us we have to adopt an attitude of waiting and patience instead, for we know not when the master will return. We are asked to be ready and vigilant; in other words, to have patience and to be aware.
"I have come to light a fire on the earth. How I wish the blaze were ignited!
I have a baptism to receive. What anguish I feel till it is over!"
These are some of the most exciting and challenging words of Jesus. Too often Jesus is made into a calming, comforting, anesthetizing person. He asks that we love, but he seems to do it in such a pleasant and undemanding way. Today we can really feel the passion of Jesus. He is restless in his desire to ignite a fire. He's on a mission. It is deep inside of him, coming out of the fire within him. His desire is to draw us in, to enflame our hearts, to have us ablaze with his mission, with our passion.
“From everyone to whom much as been given, much will be required; and from the one whom much as been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” Luke 12:48
Demanded? Required? Ok, God. Can I ask a favor? Could you soften those words just a little? Demanded sounds so… harsh.. How about asked? And instead of required, could you maybe substitute preferred? It sounds too much like you are reviewing my wonderful and happy life and are looking down on me saying, “Now it’s payback time.” I want you to be an easy God, one who doesn’t ask a lot except that I “be good.”
You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you.
Jesus’ parable in today’s liturgy puts me face-to-face with a key issue for my faith life: What is my relationship with the gifts that God has given to me? Or, another way of putting it, what are my riches, my wealth and how am I invited by God to relate to them? In the gospel story the rich man built bigger and better barns to store away the spectacular harvest and then he told himself, “Relax! Eat heartily, drink well. Enjoy yourself.”