The gospel reading for October 31 comes toward the end of what most Lucan scholars call Luke's travel narrative. It begins ten chapters earlier at 9:51, where Luke tells us, "When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." One would expect to follow Jesus' progress on a map—but the coordinates make no geographical sense.
Life of Faith
Benin. Some rights reserved by Ferdinand Reus.
We're all perpetually longing for love. Fortunate are those who realize early that another human being can't meet this unrequitable need. Even more fortunate are men and women of prayer who realize that peace comes by embracing the longing itself.
Words of judgment are difficult to hear. Actually, I have no trouble hearing how they apply to others. And when the preacher gives a logical explanation of how the law applies to me, I understand it and nod my head in agreement. But it often makes little connection with my heart and even less with the way I live.
Jesus uses this parable to lure us into a trap. Hearing it we cannot help but be thankful we are not like that Pharisee. If we are thankful we are not like him, then we are just like him.
During college, I taped a religious poster on my dorm room wall. Under a photo of a white country church against a green, timbered hill were the words, "I lift up my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help." I liked the Bible verse, the scene was pretty, and I enjoyed the peaceful reminder of rural home places. But a friend who was knowledgeable in scripture said the poster was theologically incorrect.
I have no enemies. How am I to love them? No enemy curses me. No enemy raises fists at me. No enemy persecutes me. No enemy hates me. I doubt anyone in the enemies of my state - Taliban or Al-Qaeda - care much about a stay-at-home dad living in a suburb of nothing in Texas. Frankly, I'm not important enough to have enemies in this world, and I'm not doing anything important enough that might make me any, either.