The Gospel for today addresses the question: Who is the Greatest? The setting is a discussion of Jesus with the disciples. The text says: “An argument broke out among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he took a child, stood him by his side, and said to them: “Whoever welcomes this child in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, also welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the greatest.”
Talk about being attentive to the presence of the Lord in our midst…….Jesus puts it very clearly to us: God is present in everyone we meet.
Amos 6:1. 4-7; 1Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31
Meister des Codex Aureus Epternacensis
Which of the two men in today’s gospel would you have liked to be – the rich man or the poor man?
Would you like to have dressed in fine clothes, feasted magnificently every day, had a holiday home for the winter months in Queensland, good health, lots of friends, and a stately funeral? Or would you have liked to be poor, dirty, covered with sores, hungry and homeless?
We are not told much more about these two men other than that one was rich and one was poor; that ‘good things’ came the way of the first man and that ‘bad things’ came the way of the other. Consequently, the parable tells us, the poor man was now being ‘comforted’ in eternity while the rich man was ‘in agony’.
The gospel is set in the context of Jesus beginning to foretell the destruction of the temple of his body, and its rebuilding in three days (John 2:19). The Lord certainly has the plan and vision for this destruction and rebuilding that is, as we hear, quite beyond the grasp of the disciples. So, I think about rebuilding and remodeling, and all of the times that God has had a vision and plan for the rebuilding and remodeling of my life that went beyond my wildest dreams. I can liken it to any rebuilding of a physical space- the comparisons are not so far off. When one is looking over the piles of dust and dry wall and knee-deep debris that are necessarily present during any reconstructive effort, maybe we can relate. Maybe we can hear the gospel being spoken in the midst of the mess we stand in…
The gospel selection today is one that proves the adage, “The Gospel is ever new.” The “newness” is not that the words we read or hear were never there before (and thus new. Rather, the “newness” is that I have changed and the gospel passage is being heard, in a sense, by a new me.
Jesus first asks his disciples a factual question, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The people who have been listening to Jesus consider him a prophetic presence like John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets. They see Jesus as a man of God and thus special like the prophets were.
“And he kept trying to see him”
This short reading about “Herod the ruler” is situated in Luke’s gospel just after the healing of the “dead child.” We are told her parents were “astounded.” The curing is followed by Jesus giving the twelve “power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” Then comes today’s reading about Herod saying he was “perplexed” about what Jesus was doing and who Jesus was. “And he kept trying to see him.” The feeding of the five thousand men follows. Just imagine the consternation of the apostles at the prospect of having to feed five thousand hungry, tired men! Who wouldn’t be perplexed as was Herod and yet we are told that “he kept trying to see him.”
What is the good-news being offered?
Ezra 9:5-9; Luke 9:1-6
As I pondered today’s readings, I was struck by contrast from the first to the last. In the first reading, there is a sense of powerlessness and guilt yet by the last reading, we read of being filled with power as the disciples are empowered to go forth and heal the world. Perhaps so telling of how we are when we truly embrace our Savior – from guilt and powerlessness to having the strength to face anything.
Christ’s disclosure in today’s Gospel is startling, ”My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act upon it.” The statement is especially startling when we consider the relationship between Jesus and his mother. Christ desires his followers to be in an intimate personal relationship with Him not unlike that of a loving family.
A Request from God
What would life be like without God in my life? Impossible! Unbearable! A tunnel with no light at the end of the tunnel!
God is the light at the end of the tunnel because he is the end, the purpose of my life here on earth. When we cannot see God in the midst of darkness, we must power up the generator: Prayer. Prayer, reflection and meditation allow me to see some light while I make my way out of the darkness and into His wonderful light. He truly brings all good things to light!
Amos 8:4-6; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13
Make friends with wealth
This Sunday's Gospel presents us with a parable that in certain respects has important contemporary relevance: the parable of the dishonest steward. The central character of the parable is the farm manager of a landowner, a well-known figure in our Italian countryside when the sharecropping system was still in existence.
I gave my speech the title UAC - MY LOVE. Love in times of trial. Confession and challenge.
This will not be a lesson. What then would these thoughts be? A confession. Simply a confession. Love needs confessions, love flourishes in the atmosphere of declarations. But we must also remember that confession carries a risk.
In the Easter Liturgy we hear these words: "Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all ages; to him be glory and power, through every age and for ever. Amen."