Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Again the lectionary reading invites to enter the gospel narrative on a sabbath. We join Jesus as he is on his way to eat in the house of one of the Pharisee leaders. Even as he walks Jesus is being watched closely by other guests who are also invited. Like an ever vigilant but critical “papparazzi”, these Jewish religious leaders stalk Jesus, watching, listening for any infraction of the Jewish law and tradition.
As is the way on the street, quite suddenly a man stands in the path of Jesus. He walks slowly and with difficulty, his feet and legs swollen and distended. Jesus is not the busy, driven teacher, focusing only on the dinner engagement, and impatient with any one who stands in his way. Instead his pauses before the man suffering from dropsy, and then turns to the lawyers and Pharisees standing around him and asks a legal question:
“Is it lawful to cure people on the Sabbath or not?”
In response to their silence, Jesus turns towards the man and heals him, then sends him on his way. Now he turns again to the religious leaders and asks another question:
“If one of you has a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a Sabbath day?”
Jesus sees beyond the narrow confines of their interpretation of the Mosaic Law, and breathes new life into this encounter with a man who was sinking in the fluid of the well of his own body. Jesus’ words and actions silence the religious leaders; they have no answer to his questions.
As a guest Jesus also notices how some of those invited make sure that they are seated among the most important and honored guests. And so he tells them a parable, illuminating their pride of position, and offering a window into the ways of the kingdom: “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” It is this pride which holds them captive and blinds them to the needs of those who are ill, crippled, needy; pride in their interpretation of the Mosaic law which causes them to reject the gift and grace of healing Jesus brings on the Sabbath.
But Jesus is not controlled by their silence, nor their hostility, nor their continual stalking and trick questions. He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and declares that the Sabbath is a gift for humankind, rather than a day held in the tight fist of legalities and condemnation for the slightest infraction of the Law as they interpreted it.
Here in Luke’s gospel we see again and again how Jesus lives out his call:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
In the presence of the poor, the needy, the sick, the weak, in what way do I/we offer good news?
What practices in my/our lives are life-giving, releasing others from captivity and oppression?
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
- 8/23 Monday: Luke 14:1 (2-6)
- 8/24 Tuesday: Luke 14:7-14
- 8/25 Wednesday: Psalm 81:1, 10-16
- 8/26 Thursday: Jeremiah 12:4-13
- 8/27 Friday: Hebrews 13:1-8,15-16
- 8/28 Saturday: Luke 14:1 (2-6)
- 8/29 Sunday: Luke 14:7-14