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.”
Prisca Kyemi, although in a Maasai dress she is not a Maasai. She is a young talented woman, of the Nyaturu tribe from Singida, Tanzania in East Africa, who was dreaming to see Rome and St. Peter's Basilica.
Is 53:10-11; Hbr 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45
(But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Is 53:10-11
As the vintner is pleased to crush the grapes (with suffering) so that he can transform them into wine, we too can be transformed if we accept, in the Lord, the sufferings involved in our own purification. We, too, shall become wine, pure and fragrant, and after that we live in the Christian hope that our good God will say over us the words, ‘This is my Body, this is my Blood’ and our transformation will be complete. (Ron Mervick)
Jesus continues to prepare his disciples for trials to come in the future. He encourages them to be faithful to their Christian commitment and to their faith in Christ as Lord. When we publicly acknowledge Jesus as Christ and Lord, Jesus too will acknowledge us as his faithful disciple. Of course, it will be difficult during times of abuse and persecution but they must always be ready to acknowledge their allegiance to Jesus. To deny that allegiance may win them a reprieve in this life but not in the next. “He who saves his life will lose it,” as Jesus said on an earlier occasion. The word for ‘deny’ here is the same word used in Peter’s denial and disowning of his Master (Luke 22:34 and 61).
“… so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples…”
People are being trampled underfoot and Jesus begins to speak to his disciples!? That seems a very odd response to an apparently extreme situation. Why isn’t Jesus jumping into the midst of this and setting things straight?