St. Luke, by El Greco
2 Timothy 4:10-17b; Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18; Luke 10:1-9
Today’s feast and its attendant readings offer many places to focus reflective attention. Just considering the contribution to the Church of the man we call St. Luke is important. Luke is the only known Gentile among the group of writers whose work made up the New Testament Literature. He is the author of fully a quarter of all the verses of the whole New Testament (more than all of Paul’s uncontested letters, for example) and, as a friend of both Paul the Apostle and of many of the original Twelve, he is a remarkable figure who stands at the intersection of the Church as Jewish Sect becoming Church truly catholic in its outreach and its membership in the latter years of the First Century. The thematic emphases of forgiveness, justice and love for the poor and marginalized, and healing of the sick endear many to Luke’s portrayal of Jesus. From Luke alone we have a moderately systematic outline of the spread of the earliest Church throughout the Mediterranean Basin. But what struck me about the feast and the readings chosen for its celebration, is the importance of being a friend that one can find “writ large” across the readings.
Holy Spirit, I ask you
for the gift of Wisdom to better know You and Your divine perfections,
for the gift of Understanding to clearly discern the spirit of the mysteries of the holy faith,
for the gift of Counsel that I may live according to the principles of this faith,
for the gift of Knowledge that I may look for counsel in You and that I may always find it in You,
for the gift of Fortitude that no fear or earthly preoccupations would ever separate me from You,
for the gift of Piety that I may always serve Your Majesty with a filial love,
for the gift of the Fear of the Lord that I may dread sin, which offends You, O my God.
* Pope Saint John Paul II was taught this prayer by his father, kept it on a handwritten note, and prayed it every day for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:18-25; Psalm 1:1, 1-2, 3, 4+6; Luke 11:42-46
Today’s readings are easy to skim, but hard to read carefully. When we scan the first reading, we can see a list of things Paul tells the Galatians to avoid.
“Immorality, impurity, licentiousness.” We might be relieved to cross those off our mental list of sins.
“Idolatry and sorcery”: Nope.
“Drinking bouts, orgies.” We can start getting complacent, maybe even smug at this point because isn’t it obvious how good and noble we really are?
But, … what about those things on the list we skimmed over?
Today we hear very often about the need for frequent hand washing as a deterrent to the spread of swine flu. I could not help but think of this as I read the gospel message for today. The washing of hands provided the occasion for controversy between Jesus and the Pharisee.
Just as the washing of hands is today viewed as a way to cleanliness and as a deterrent swine flu, so in the days of Jesus the washing of hands was intended to promote cleanliness. The Jewish people knew that the washing of their hands was both important and necessary. Since many of the people spent most of the day outdoors they got their hands dirty. But for the Pharisees the washing of hands also signified ritual purity before God. And it is on the matter of ritual purity that Jesus confronts this Pharisee.
Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1; Luke 11:29-32
Our readings for today challenge us to look at the legitimacy of who we are and what is expected of us because of that. We are people of “the promise.” While Abraham has two “sets” of descendants, it is only those deceased from Isaac who have the legitimacy to be free as a result of the covenant with God and Abraham. The miracle of Isaac’s birth to a barren mother was a sign of the covenant – a promise made good. Paul is emphasizing that similarly, following Christ also sets us free. The other part of that original “deal” was to live according to God’s rules – we haven’t been so good about that. . . We want to have the benefits of the legitimate son (Isaac) and the promise but want to live by our own rules. So now Paul is telling us, we have the opportunity to be “free” again because of the promise of this Son. But . . . we must “stand firm.”
Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
Let us have a look at the dynamic of this conversation the rich man has with Jesus.
The first thing Mark makes sure to tell us is that this encounter interrupts Jesus ‘setting out on the way’ (v17). It is not a teaching moment, but the man is concerned enough to find the Lord, kneel before him and ask him the question that troubles him, even when Jesus has other things to do. So, it is highly unlikely to be a challenge to his authority or an attempt to trick him.
What are the obstacles to the fuller coming of God's Kingdom into our world? Frequently they are summarized as "the world, the flesh and the devil." "The world" stands for external cultural attitudes militating against living for God and others, such as secularism, individualism, materialism. "The flesh" stands for internal personal dividedness inhibiting our free response to the Spirit, such as the capital sins of pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust. And "the devil" is, well, the devil, Satan. A formidable triad!
Jesus, as He usually does, expresses such a wonderful thought in a succinct fashion - Blest are those who hear the word of God, and keep it. He focuses on blessings, on positives. No damnation and hellfire here, just why good things happen to good people. Is this hearing and keeping hard stuff to do?
POPE FRANCIS' PRAYER FOR THE 2018 SYNOD OF BISHOPS
Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment
3 October • Vatican City
Together, let us pray the Synod's official prayer; so that the youth of today may stake themselves on noble ideas, and courageously enter tomorrow ready to be saints of the new millennium. Lord Jesus, in journeying towards the Synod, your Church turns her attention to all the young people of the world.