Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Twenty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 4:16-30 - World English Bible

16 Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the broken hearted,
to proclaim release to the captives,
recovering of sight to the blind,
to deliver those who are crushed,
19 and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

20 He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began to tell them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

22 All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, "Isn't this Joseph's son?"

23 He said to them, "Doubtless you will tell me this parable, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in your hometown.'" 24 He said, "Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. 26 Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, except Naaman, the Syrian."

28 They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. 29 They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. 30 But he, passing through the middle of them, went his way.

Luke 4 revealed the modus operandi of Jesus. He traveled throughout the region, proclaiming the Good News in towns during the week, preaching in the synagogues on the Sabbath. During his lifetime, the synagogue was a far more democratic institution than it is today; without ordained rabbis, any Jewish adult male could read and comment on a reading from Hebrew Scripture. As the local boy who made good, he returned to read from Isaiah 61:1-2. He commentary caught the attention of the Nazarenes. Whether Jesus referred to himself in the passage or his preaching, the audience reacted at first with awe, then with anger. How could his words fulfill Scripture? More to the point, how dare he make such a statement? Here, familiarity did lead to contempt. Wasn't this Joseph's son? How could this local boy make good? According to his reputation, he healed the sick. Why didn't he perform such mighty acts here?

Jesus ratcheted up the rhetoric. He quoted a saying, "Doctor, you heal." This was not a command to turn the heal arts on himself but an imperative to heal others. In other word, if you can cure people, do it! In answer, he compared himself to the great prophets of the region, Elijah and Elisha. Even these messengers of YHWH withheld divine favor except for those in real need.

His attitude and comparison were too much for the assembly. At the sound of his answer, the crowd turned on him and attempted to throw him over a cliff, but he walked away.

Sometimes we pray to God, seeking a specific answer, only to be disappointed. Yet, who is in charge? Shouldn't we seek God's will, not our own?

Pray to realize God's will this day in your life.

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Tuesday in the Twenty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 4:31-37 - World English Bible

31 Jesus came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, "Ah! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!"

35 Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" When the demon had thrown him down in the middle of them, he came out of him, having done him no harm.

36 Amazement came on all, and they spoke together, one with another, saying, "What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!" 37 News about him went out into every place of the surrounding region.

In Luke's gospel, Jesus moved from one city to another, from one synagogue to another. This time, he preached in Capernaum where he healed a demon possessed man. Notice, however, the Lucan theme of revelation; Jesus announced his identity and mission at Nazareth but realized it in Capernaum. He declared the Isaiah 61:1-2 fulfilled; the Spirit was indeed upon him. Now he had power even over evil spirits because of the word he proclaimed. He derived power from his mission of evangelization because the Spirit was the source of that mission.

How does spreading the Good News invigorate you?

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Wednesday in the Twenty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 4:38-44 - World English Bible

38 Jesus rose up from the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. Simon's mother-in-law was afflicted with a great fever, and they begged him for her. 39 He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her. Immediately she rose up and served them. 40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any sick with various diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. 41 Demons also came out of many, crying out, and saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of God!" Rebuking them, he didn't allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

42 When it was day, he departed and went into an uninhabited place, and the multitudes looked for him, and came to him, and held on to him, so that he wouldn't go away from them. 43 But he said to them, "I must preach the good news of God's Kingdom to the other cities also. For this reason I have been sent." 44 He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

Luke 4 continued the pattern of Jesus' ministry; he traveled to the people, preached in their synagogues and healed the sick. In this passage, he "rebuked" the fever of Simon Peter's mother-in-law (4:39) and the demons who possessed the ill (4:41). Notice in his response to sickness and demon possession, he treated both the same; both were evil spirits, one debilitated, the other could reveal his true identity as the Messiah. Luke portrayed him as the One in control, restoring health and wholeness to the afflicted. In the case of Simon's mother-in-law, she assumed her role and served them; others received their loved ones back well. His control also extended to his identity; Jesus would define and direct his role as the Christ, even to the cross. He came to spread the Good News of the Kingdom.

As a follower of Jesus, how have you brought healing and wholeness to those around you?

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Thursday in the Twenty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 5:1-11 - World English Bible

1 Now while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch."

5 Simon answered him, "Master, we worked all night, and took nothing; but at your word I will let down the net." 6 When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 They beckoned to their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. They came, and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord." 9 For he was amazed, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had caught; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.

Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive."

11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.

In Luke 5, the author described the calling of Simon Peter. Because of the crowd size, Jesus taught from the Simon's boat. Imagine the lake shore next to the side of a hill, like an amphitheater setting, where the people sat and the Lord taught just off shore. After the teaching, presumably in the heat of the day, he ordered Simon to row toward deeper waters and cast his net. Simon responded with a hint of skepticism; they fished from before dawn to the early morning without luck, now Jesus wanted them to go fishing, when the fish hid at lower depths? That made no sense to the Simon, but he acquiesced. To his astonishment, the catch was so large, it almost broke the net! After they landed the boats, Simon begged Jesus to leave. Not only did the fisherman feel unworthy, he instinctively knew his encounter with Jesus would change his life. And it did. Now he would fish for people. His first priority would now be evangelization.

How has Jesus called you? How have you responded to his call and caught people for the Lord?

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Friday in the Twenty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 5:33-39 - World English Bible

33 The scribes and the Pharisees said to Jesus, "Why do John's disciples often fast and pray, likewise also the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink?"

34 He said to them, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them. Then they will fast in those days." 36 He also told a parable to them. "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old garment, or else he will tear the new, and also the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 No one puts new wine into old wine skins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved. 39 No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"

In Luke 5, the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus about the lack of spiritual practices among his followers. Both disciples of the Pharisees and the Baptist fasted and prayed beyond that required by the Law for two reasons: atoning for past sins of the nation and anticipating the future coming Kingdom. Typically, righteous Jews would fast on Mondays and Thursdays; prayers would accompany the practice to focus the participant on the reasons for penitence (not unlike the Catholic Lenten practices).

So, why didn't the disciples fast, along with the requested prayers? There were implicit and explicit reasons. Implicitly, the followers of Jesus came from the countryside, where they practiced a more informal, less regulated form of Judaism advanced by the urban Pharisees; so this controversy was a matter of competing visions about living the faith on a day-by-day basis. Explicitly, the Lord pointed to his presence (the parable of the bridegroom) and his message (the parable of the wine and the wine skins) as the reasons to set aside the fast. He embodied the Kingdom; there was no reason to fast in the presence of God (like revilers at a wedding feast). His message, the Good News, announced the immanence of the Kingdom; why would anyone mourn the sins of the past (old wine) when God was so close (new wine in new wine skins)? One could answer two rhetorical questions in the negative, however, if his religious practice depended upon habit and familiarity (preferring the old wine).

Jesus raised the controversy about fasting beyond that of spiritual practice to one of spiritual vision. Did his opponents really see who stood before them and the power of the message he proclaimed?

Do we?

What is the status of your spiritual life today? Do your spiritual practices measure up to your faith expectations?

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Saturday in the Twenty Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 6:1-5 - World English Bible

1 Now on the second Sabbath after the first, Jesus was going through the grain fields. His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said to them, "Why do you do that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day?"

3 Jesus, answering them, said, "Haven't you read what David did when he was hungry, he, and those who were with him; 4 how he entered into God's house, and took and ate the show bread, and gave also to those who were with him, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests alone?" 5 He said to them, "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath."

In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus first preached on the Sabbath in his hometown of Nazareth. There, he faced controversy. After a week of calling disciples, proclaiming the Good News and healing others, he encountered another fight, this time a debate with the Pharisees over a point of the Law. As rural Jews, his disciples followed the Deuteronomy 23:25 loosely ("When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, then you may pluck the ears with your hand; but you shall not move a sickle to your neighbor's standing grain."), while the Pharisees interpreted the verse as tightly as possible. Jesus gave an example from Scripture to defend his view of the prescription; the high priest gave the show bread reserved to his fellow priests to David and his men (1 Samuel 22:9-10). Then, to assert his place in the controversy, Jesus said something remarkable, "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." In other words, he, not the Pharisees, had the correct interpretation of the Law and, his word, not that of his opponents, controlled behavior on the Lord's day.

How is Jesus the Lord of Sabbath in your life?

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