Thursday, September 3, 2015
To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:15-20; Lk 5:33-39
In Luke, this episode about fasting continues from the previous one (5:27-32) in which after the call of Levi (5:27-28), Jesus eats in Levi’s house along with tax collectors and others. This table fellowship leads the Pharisees to murmur. Jesus responds with a common proverb about only the sick needing a physician and then emphasises that he has come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance (5:31–32). Luke omits Mark’s introduction, which informs us that John’s disciples’ and the Pharisees were fasting, and thus allows the conversation of the previous scene to continue. In response to the comment that John’s disciples like those of the Pharisees fast and pray, Jesus responds with a metaphor of a wedding feast and the inappropriateness of the guests fasting while the wedding is in process and the bridegroom is with them. While in Mark the new or unshrunk cloth is sought to be sewn onto an old garment; in Luke the cloth is first torn from a new garment and then sought to be put onto an old garment. In Luke the destructive effect of tearing the new garment is highlighted. Lk 5:39 is exclusive to Luke and brings out the closed attitude of those who do not want the new. They prefer to stick to the old because they feel comfortable with it and are not willing to change or see things from a new perspective. They insist that the old is good.
It is not always easy to accept change. We prefer to do things the old way and feel comfortable when things remain the same. We must realise that the only thing that is permanent is change and we must get used to it. While we need not change just for the sake of changing, we must be open and receptive to change and be ready to change when we have to.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Thursday, September 3, 2015 - What do you think Jesus is calling you to today? Will you answer his call?
To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:9-14; Lk 5:1-11
The call of the first disciples in the Gospel of Luke is different from the other Synoptic Gospels. While in Matthew and Mark Jesus calls to them when he was passing by the
Sea of Galilee,
here he is in Simon’s boat. While there are similarities between this account
in Luke and the account of the miraculous catch in John 21:1-4, there are also
differences. The most striking difference is that Luke uses the story here as
the setting for Simon’s call to follow Jesus, whereas John uses it to show that
Peter was reconciled with the risen Jesus after having denied him. While in
John, Jesus is not in the boat but on the shore, here in Luke he is in the
boat. In John there is only one boat, that in which the disciples are, here
there are many boats. The nets in Luke are beginning to break, but John explicitly
mentions that despite the large haul, the nets did not break.
The point that Luke seems to make is that following Jesus on his way will entail a completely different life style, will call for a different set of priorities. Where Simon and the others were focusing on fish (material, temporary, passing things), Jesus calls them to focus on people (spiritual, permanent, things that last).
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - Will you find the time today, “to be”, so that “your doing” will be more efficacious? How?
To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:1-8; Lk 4:38-44
The reading of today allows us to encounter a Jesus who was busy day and night “doing” and yet a Jesus who would manage to find the time “to be”.
The first of the three scenes that form part of this section deals with the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Since in Luke this healing takes place before the call of the first disciples, he does not mention Andrew, James and John as Mark does (Mk 1:29). He also probably uses this healing to prepare for the call of Peter, which he narrates in 5:1-11.
In the second scene, Luke depicts a Jesus who would heal people at all times of the day or night. While the demons use the title “Son of God” to identify Jesus, Luke himself informs the readers that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. Luke seems to have taken the silencing function from Mark because it is not clear in his Gospel as it is in Mark, why Jesus would not allow the demons to speak.
In the third and final scene of this section, Luke portrays a Jesus who would find time to commune with his Father. He portrays a man of action and yet a man of prayer, though he does not explicitly state here that Jesus prayed. Though the crowds want to prevent Jesus from leaving, Jesus is clear that he must go on to other places as well, for the kingdom belongs to all.
This Jesus is the one who challenges us today to be men and women who derive our strength “to do” from “the one who is and will always be”.
Monday, August 31, 2015
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Thess 5:1-6,9-11; Lk 4:31-37
Immediately after leaving the synagogue, Jesus works a miracle. This miracle is the healing of a man possessed by a demon, thus putting into action immediately the manifesto he had spoken about. This exorcism is the first of the four exorcisms in the Gospel of Luke. The unclean spirit refers to Jesus here as Jesus of Nazareth and as the Holy one of God, which is a title Luke has taken from Mark, since it does not appear again in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus exorcises the demon with a command.
It is interesting to note that the people who witnessed the miracle refer to it not as an action but as a teaching simply because there was never a separation between the words and deeds of Jesus, there was never a separation between what Jesus said and did.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Monday, August 31, 2015 - Do you agree with the manifesto of Jesus? How will you help him put it into action today?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Thess 4:13-18; Lk 4:16-30
“Nazareth’ has figured prominently in the Infancy Narratives of Luke, but Luke reminds us that it was where Jesus had been brought up. Jesus is faithful to the tradition he received from his fore fathers, and does not flout rules for the sake of flouting them. He is not an armchair critic. Standing to read was customary. While he taught, he would sit. There were many parts to the worship in a Jewish synagogue, and various people might have been asked to lead in reading or praying. Luke’s description of Jesus finding the place where the verses quoted from Isaiah occur probably means that Jesus himself chose this passage. The scriptures would be read in Hebrew and then interpreted in Aramaic. Jesus could have chosen a text which spoke about the glory of the Prophet, or about God’s Chosen One (see for example Isaiah 63), yet, he chooses a text where he will as Prophet and Chosen One spend himself in service.
The reading is from Isa 61,1-2a and 58,6. Luke, however, omits “to bind up the broken hearted of Isa 61,1 and adds from Isa 58,6, “to set at liberty those who are oppressed”. The threefold repetition of the pronoun “me” is an indication that this passage describes the ministry of Jesus rather than Isaiah. It is also important to note that Jesus in Luke does not go on to read the second part of Isaiah 61,2 “and the day of vengeance of our God.”
1. Significantly, Jesus’ work will be good news to the poor. The “poor” figure more prominently in Jesus’ teachings in Luke than in any other Gospel (see Lk 14,13.21; 16,20.22; 18,22; 21,3).
2. Jesus released persons from various forms of bondage and oppression: economic (the poor), physical (the lame, the crippled); political the condemned) and demonic.
3. The restoration of sight to the blind was closely associated with the prophetic vision of fulfilment of God’s promises to Israel. When Jesus restores sight to the blind (Lk 7,21-22; 18,35) he is dramatically fulfilling the role of the one who would be “ a light for the nations” (Lk 2,32).
4. “the acceptable year of the Lord” In Isaiah, this term refers to the Jubilee year legislation in Lev. 25. Following a series of seven sevens (forty nine), the fiftieth year was to be a time of liberty (Lev 25,10). The coming of Jesus means that the liberation of the impoverished and oppressed had come.
Jesus followed the usual practice of rolling the scroll and giving it back to the attendant. The posture of sitting was the usual posture when teaching. (See how in Mt 5,1-2 when Jesus goes up to the mountain, he sits down before beginning to teach). Through his first words to the people in the synagogue, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”, Jesus conveys that the centuries of waiting on God’s blessing and promises have ended.
There is initial enthusiasm for Jesus’ announcement. This is a positive response to what he has said. They are happy because what they hear suits them. It fits in with their way of thinking. The question, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” need not be hostile, especially because earlier Luke reports that all spoke well of him. It might be paraphrased in this manner; who would have thought that someone who grew up in our village could reach so far?
Jesus interprets the crowd to say that he must begin in his own hometown what he has been doing in so many other places. They are ready to receive God’s blessing.
While this proverb, “Truly (Amen) I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown” is also found in Matthew (13,57), Mark (6,4) and John (4,44), the form varies. Luke is the only one of the four who introduces the proverb with “Amen”. In Luke like in John, there is no exception clause (which is found in Matthew and Mark –“except in his own country and in his own (house”). Luke changes the word “honour” found in the other three forms and substitutes it with “accepted”. The word “hometown” can also mean “home country”, and anticipates the rejection of Jesus in Nazareth and also in the whole of Israel. The examples of Elijah and Elisha serve as a reminder that God’s blessings are not restricted to only a few but are available for all. Also the blessings will not be forced on anyone, but must be accepted with an open heart as gift. The passive verbs imply God’s direction: God closed the heavens (4,25), God sent Elijah (4,26) and God cleansed Naaman (4,27 see also 2 Kings 5,1-14).
At first Jesus had seemed to be promising them the blessings. He was saying what they wanted to hear. But now, he had said something different. He had woken them from their stupor. He had challenged them to get out of their complacency. He had taken them beyond boundaries and stereotypes, and had spoken about the graciousness and magnanimity of God’s unmerited blessing.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
To read the Texts click on the texts: Dt 4:1-2,6-8; Jas1:17-18,21-22, 27; Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
At first glance, it might seem to us that Moses is advocating, in the First reading of today, what can be termed as a quid pro attitude or what may also be termed as an “If …then” way of proceeding. He seems, at first glance, to be saying that they will be rewarded if they obey and follow the commands that he gives them which have come from the Lord. However, this is certainly not so. What Moses is advocating instead is an attitude of being true to oneself and the way to do this is to put into action the words that one speaks. It is an attitude of obeying the commands of the Lord. In other words, it means to do what one says. The reason why Moses does is because he is aware that this kind of attitude can have only one consequence and that is peace within oneself and peace with everyone else. This is because it will show a sense of wisdom and discernment in the one who lives in such a manner. One who lives in this manner will live as a friend of God.
In the second part of the second reading, James says the same thing as Moses does, but in different words. He asks his readers to be, not merely hearers of the word, but doers. This “doing” has to be shown primarily in concern for the poorest of the poor and those who are regarded as the scum of society. However, even before this exhortation, he makes a noble theological statement. This is the basis and foundation for the “doing”. He affirms that everything that is good and perfect comes from the Lord who remains constant. This gift, that is good and perfect, was shown in the fullness of time in the Gospel but more than that, in the one who brought the Gospel, Jesus Christ the Son of God. It was in Jesus that God showed his faith in human beings in action. The appropriate response to such an unimaginable gift of God and his faith in us can be shown only in deeds and not words.
Jesus offers an invitation to such a response, in the Gospel text of today, to those who focus on the Law and not love, and to those who give too much importance to human traditions and enough to what God deserves. The invitation and challenge is to move from lip service to heart service and to move from empty words to loving action. Even as he does this, Jesus invites the crowd who are listening to understand that it is not merely external action to which he is inviting them. The action that they are called to perform is a loving action and this is possible only if that loving action first finds root in one’s heart. If, instead, the heart is filled with selfishness, corruption, and negatives, then the actions that flow from such a person will not be very different from these attitudes and will break rather than build.
Thus, even if the focus in all three reading seems to be on DOING, it is not merely on doing that the focus lies, but on the kind of action that one will do. For Moses, the right kind of action is following the commands of the Lord as summarized in the Ten Commandments. These call for right action with God and the world. They call one to realize that every creation of God is precious and to be honoured. For James, the right action is expressed in reaching out tangibly and practically to the least of the members of Society and making them feel wanted and loved. For Jesus, the right action stems from the heart. Thus, one must always ensure that the heart is filled only with positives so that what comes out from there and into action will be positive. The German mystic, Eckhart von Hochheim, or as he was more commonly known, Meister Eckhart, put it wonderfully well when he said: “You should bother less about what you ought to be, because if your being were good then your works would shine forth brightly.”
This is not always easy to achieve as is evident from the Gospel text of today. All too often, we might make the mistake of focusing a little too much on the external action and not give enough thought to the inner disposition. Our focus might be, too often and largely, on the body and not enough on the heart. Like he called his listeners two thousand years ago, Jesus continues to call us to imitate him in having a pure heart from which the right actions will flow. This will result in our following the statutes and ordinances of the Lord and practicing a religion that is pure and undefiled. It will result in the world we live in becoming a better place and furthering the kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated.