Jesus offers his unsolicited advice fully aware of the jousting for prominence that occurs in our social spaces. He sees our mad dash to the front row so that we can be seen by the chief executive officer, the potential major donor, or the bishop.
Living by the Word
The unnamed woman’s healing in this week’s Gospel reading is a story of expansion, revelation, vision widened by grace. There’s more to the story, however.
Fire is a dangerous image for Jesus to use, even if he doesn’t mean it literally. What kind of God would bring fire to the earth?
Hope is the content of faith. Hope is the adopted son, the grafted inheritor. If there are to be, as with Abraham’s descendants, innumerable stars and grains of sands, it will be through this boy.
Paul says the hidden life is a moral one, putting off vices like a set of dirty old clothes.
What is the point of prayer? The question is writ large in the texts from both the Hebrew scripture and the Gospel for this Sunday. The terrain is fraught with places to trip and fall.
God’s experience of hospitality—in the mysterious travelers and in the person of Jesus—inspires us to think beyond an Abraham-vs.-Sarah or Martha-vs.-Mary divide.
How do we respond to the issues that trouble people deeply? Jesus and the lawyer have a proper debate, but the lawyer continues to wrestle and cannot let go.
Jesus sends his disciples out “like lambs in the midst of wolves.” We live in a time when intimacy is erased, privacy laughable, rhetoric rude and rusty. The notion of going out as lambs to wolves is apt, even if the wolves and lambs may be interchangeable.
Jesus setting his face to Jerusalem marks a shift: the text mentions it three times. There is a boldness and immovable attention to the assignment.
Many people are bound. Some don’t even know it. The difference between being free and being bound is at the center of our Gospel text this week.
When I read this week’s passage from Luke, I take an aerial view. My perspective shifts from the disciples to Jesus, then to Simon the Pharisee, then to the bystanders, and finally to the woman who washes Jesus’ feet.
In Luke’s Gospel, many of Jesus’ encounters with people are described in terms of whether or not they have faith. Yet this week’s story of the widow of Nain stands in contrast: the person in need never asks for help.
In Galatians, Paul is confrontational. While we should be more cautious about calling other people "foolish," we can learn from him that tolerance shouldn't depend on denying one's faith, and being grounded in one's faith shouldn't lead to intolerance or coercion.
When we are overwhelmed by our daily struggles, when we get weary because of the dehumanization that results from hatred and greed, Proverbs 8 and Psalm 8 remind us how God conceives of us as human beings crowned with glory and honor.