Taste and See: We begin…

St LukeYesterday, the 3rd Sunday of Year C in the Sunday Lectionary Cycle, we heard the introduction to the Gospel of Luke and the first moment of Jesus’ public ministry.

 

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’

Luke 1:1-4,4:14-21

The work of ministry continues. The Lord continues to inspire the members of his Body, the Church, equipping them with gifts of the Spirit, supernatural grace building on the grace of creation. Thus enabled the members of the Church are invited to continue the ministry of the Lord, in all the particular circumstances of their lives.

Even now the text is being fulfilled.

  • What ‘natural’ gifts most often help you to do the good?
  • What supernatural gifts are you most aware of benefiting from?
  • Who else helps you in your ministry and work?

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Window of St Luke, Holy Name, Manchester. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Help us know you better

Nazareth WindowOn the 3rd Sunday of the Year, in Year C, the Gospel reading re-establishes us in the series of sequential readings from The Gospel of Luke which will accompany us through the Sundays in Ordinary Time during the rest of this year.

Last week we heard a passage from John’s Gospel too important to lose sight of, and which found no easy home elsewhere in the 3-year cycle of Sunday Readings. Over theprevious weeks the readings were chosen tolead us into a contemplation of the Mysteries of the Christmas Season, and making the most of the season of Advent. but now we begin our reading of Luke.

The editors gives us the introductory verses and then leaping over the accounts of conception and birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, and Jesus’ baptism, sets before us the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus as Luke describes it:

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’

Luke 1:1-4,4:14-21

The account firmly situates Jesus and the meaning of his ministry in the  bigger story of God and his people. In that story always God has been faithful and time and time again his people are not so. Now a son of Israel comes before his people, perfectly to embody the fulfilment what God promises, and perfectly to achieve what God invites us to.

  • Which aspect of Jesus’ ministry as named above most touches you?
  • Of which are you most in need?
  • And those around you?

Window from the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Call us to truth

Christ the lawgiverThe Gospel reading on Sunday, the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, sees us return to the reading of Mark’s Gospel, which is characteristic of the Sunday Lectionary in this Year B of the Cycle.

And the reading returns us to scenes of controversy and tension between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes…

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:

This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.

You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

The first reading on Sunday affirms in a strong and beautiful way the power and goodness of the Law. The controversy is not about Law, but how human beings can so easily subvert its purpose. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes by mistake.

Human frailty is God’s speciality. When we fail, and however we fail, deliberately or by mistake, his mercy, his help, his love are ours, always.

  • Where do you need that love, now.
  • Take a moment to ask for it, admitting your need, and confessing God’s love.

Carving of Christ as Law-giver. Christian sarcophagus, Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence antiques. © 2014, Allen Morris