I don’t know about you, but I’m rather enjoying the take no prisoners, no nonsense Jesus that Luke has been delivering to us for the last few weeks. Today is no exception: scandals to faith, radical forgiveness, tiny faith that moves mulberry trees, and unworthy servants simply doing their job. I like it because so much of our Christian talk today seems to lack edge and tooth, not to mention body and blood. It’s a kind of a spiritual mush. Jesus is anything but that. He deals in the hard-edged reality of life as sinners in a fallen world in which there are scandals to faith, countless occasions to forgive, and no point at which we can say, “There, it’s finished. We’ve done our job, we deserve our reward.”Continue reading
Have you ever lost something of great value to you? A dog or cat that ran away. Perhaps you lost your cell phone or the keys to the car. Have you ever lost a child, as Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for three days in Jerusalem? How did you feel when you turned and your child wasn’t there? What ran through your mind? You were frantic. You searched and searched and wouldn’t rest until you found your lost child. You’ll stop at nothing until you find what was lost. That’s the seeking heart of the shepherd and the woman in today’s Gospel. It’s the heart of the Lord telling the parable. He is the seeking shepherd, the searching woman, the God who is totally focused on seeking and finding the lost.Continue reading
Large crowds were following Jesus as He journied to Jersualem and His appointed cross. Jesus was a celebrity, a religious superstar. People flocked to be near Him; they wouldn’t leave Him alone. He had to sneak away late at night for times of solitude and prayer. And even then, they found Him.
Jesus has a way of thinning the crowds, winnowing the chaff from the wheat, the casually religious from the spiritually committed. The way of discipleship is no easy road. It is a costly road of hard and painful choices. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, if he does not hate his own life, he cannot be my disciples.” Jesus is going to a cross to die, and anyone who does not bear his own cross and come after Him cannot claim to be one of His disciples. Following Jesus is costly. It means dying – dying to self, dying to your loves, dying to everything that is your life, reouncing literally everything you have and everything you are or think you are.Continue reading
Anyone who has done a home rennovation project knows that you have to do destruction before you can do construction. Demo before renno. Sledgehammer before paint brush. Most projects begin with a lot of dust and destruction, leaving a big mess that often makes you wonder whether this was a good idea in the first place. So it is with the new creation in Christ. There must be death before resurrection. We must decrease; Christ must increase, and that doesn’t suit old Adam one bit. He would prefer a superficial paint job, a coat of religious shellac over teardown and rebuild.Continue reading
Anxiety. We all have it to one degree or another. Sleepless nights, panic attacks in the middle of the day. Racing heartbeat. Inability to focus on any one thing for more than a few seconds. Anxiety is symptomatic of our culture. The leading over-the-counter medications are for sleep and stomach disorders. Anti-anxiety meds are among the leading prescription drugs. We are an anxious society, an anxious people living in a constant state of anxiety, and it’s eating us up from the inside.Continue reading
Havel havelim, says Qoheleth. Vanities piled on top of vanities. Emptiness. Nothing. Vapor. All is vanity. Wealth, fame, celebrity, power…all of it. Vanity. Nothing. Chasing after the wind.
You build a business and a fool takes it over and drives it into the ditch of bankruptcy. You amass a fortune and are buried next to a poor man, and your children and grandchildren squander every one of your hard-earned pennies. Vanitiy of vanities.Continue reading
“When you pray, say: Father.” (Luke 11:2)
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)
There are two kinds of prayer – the prayer of unbelief and the prayer of fait; the prayer from the spirit of old Adam and the prayer of the Spirit of Christ.Continue reading
The Jesus of today’s gospel lesson is the Jesus who is Guest and Host. So when we ask, which one is he, the answer is a resounding “yes,” as it is whenever we ask which one he is in our divine worship – what we celebrate with each other on every Lord’s day, the Lord being present with us.Continue reading
A priest, a Levite, a Samaritan. Three men had an open window of opportunity to be neighbor to the man who fell among thieves on the road to Jericho.
Which one is not like the other two? The priest and Levite are clergy, religious leaders, pillars of their community. The Samaritan is a nobody, an anonymous Joe on the road. A Samaritan, despised by Judaean and Galilean alike who considered Samaritans to be half-breeds and heretics. They wouldn’t greet him on the road or talk to him at the town well. He’s not like the other two. The genius of this parable is that it forces a religious Jew, a synagogue lawyer, an expert in the intricacies of Torah, to identify with this Samaritan. You can almost hear the resigned reluctance in the lawyer’s voice when he has to answer Jesus’ question – Who was neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?Continue reading
In Nomine Iesu
Today’s Gospel of the sending of the seventy speaks to the church and her mission. It is a preliminary sending, the church’s “vicarage” so to speak, prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection before the big sending with the disciple-making mandate to baptize and teach the nations. This episode is told only in Luke, for whom Jesus’ mission to the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, was a very big deal. Jesus is more than the Messiah of Israel, He’s the Savior of the world, the promised seed of Abraham through whom “all nations” of the world would be blessed. His cross extends in all directions, to the ends of the earth, to all peoples everywhere, to those who have heard and those who have not heard, to everyone you meet and everyone you know.Continue reading