Readings: Luke 14: 25-33
The focus of this week’s Gospel is at the heart of the clarity of Clare and Francis of Assisi: have no possessions. The logic of the Gospel is that, ultimately, we do not own our possessions, our possessions can own us. The possessions can be a burden on our hearts and souls and can prevent us from seeing life as it truly is. Not having possessions can give a person a radical freedom. Such freedom allows a person to work for others, knowing that our salvation comes in community; that we are each members of the body of Christ. In this time of greater ecological awareness, we also need to acknowledge that more possessions means more resources and a greater burden on this planet that we were gifted by God.
‘Have no possessions’ is at odds with the ‘wisdom of the world’ – then and now. Such an injunction has been ignored by many in the church over the centuries, reminding of the phrase: ‘honoured more in the breach than in the observance’.
While Clare, Francis and many others over the centuries have opted for the literal (and radical) interpretation of this passage, what might a more metaphorical observance look like? What we have can be shared; what we have can be used in our work/ministry; what we have can free us for relationships; what we have can help us to see those in need; we have can allow us to act for justice. We can each make choices to build community. The way of Francis and Clare ensures the Gospel is lived. For the rest of us mere mortals, may we do enough to be on the journey.
Readings: Sir 3:17-29; Luke 14:7-14
Today’s first reading and Gospel emphasise the importance of humility. Humility is the polar opposite of the game of ‘looking good’ – a game that continues to be played to this day. A humble person is not one who doesn’t know their worth. Rather, a humble person is one who knows their worth but isn’t so insecure that they need to trumpet their presence.
While humility has benefits for the person, it also has benefits for those in need. If I am humble and not puffed up, I am more likely to see and act upon the difficulties that others around me face. In that way we will be able to do as Jesus asks in the Gospel, making a place at the table for those who are poor, crippled, lame or blind. If such a list were to be written today, it would include those on the margins today such as refugees, First Nations people and those who are gender diverse.
We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We all deserve a seat at the table. It is up to those of us who are privileged to do all we can to ensure that happens – beginning with not standing in the way of the last, the lost and the least.
fly across the languid Yarra.
framed by cloud
and riverside greenery.
Early morning rower
continues to practice.
This everyday scene is
the grace of another day.
Readings: Heb 12:5-13; Luke 13:22-30
Today’s readings remind us that being a disciple of Jesus has its challenges. Faith may not come easily at times and like in the second reading we can feel like we are being ‘disciplined’. The reality is that we each have selfish urges that need to be kept in check e.g. ‘Look at me doing the right thing. Aren’t I good?’ Other parts of our behaviour can be thought of as useless appendages that need to drop off. One way of thinking of salvation is being saved from ourselves – saved from our shortcomings that hinder our relationships and hold us back from being the best version of ourselves.
We know that this path is not an easy one – as the readings attest. Within the Gospel is the theme of the great overturning: ‘some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last’. As humans we think we know what is going on, when in reality, life can be filled with myriad games of status. In that way the person who is focused on doing what is right, being in right relationship with others, they are closer to God’s reign than someone who is ‘climbing the greasy pole’. Therein lies part of the wisdom contained in the Gospel: ‘some are last who will be first’.
Readings: Luke 12:49-53
Living a life of faith can be challenging. There are plenty of distractions: Am I working hard enough? Do I look good in what I’m wearing? Do I have the latest gadget? So we each have a choice: follow God or ‘go with the flow’.
It is easy to categorise Jesus as the person who preached peace and love. There is plenty of scriptural evidence to support this contention. Today’s Gospel shows that he is not so easily pigeon-holed. The Gospel gives us a glimpse into prophetic Jesus. Jesus who acknowledges that following him is a challenge and that following him will divide opinion – including opinion in the same home. Meek, mild Jesus upsets nor offends anyone – the one who comforts the afflicted.
Then, as now, there existed structural injustice including those who did very well out of the status quo. Ensuring there is justice for those afflicted requires passion – and something like ‘the fire’ to which Jesus refers in today’s Gospel. So prophetic Jesus ‘afflicts the comfortable’ – challenging the status quo. In so doing, division is created between those who wish to follow Jesus and those who follow the very human instinct of not wanting things to change.
What will my choice be?
Readings: Psalm 32; Heb 11:8-19; Luke 12:32-48
Today’s Gospel is written with the backdrop of the second coming of Christ. Seen in many places in the New Testament, it is clear that this second coming was expected to occur at any moment. This explains the sense in the reading of ‘being ready’. While that did not occur, there is a genius in being ready since we are not in control of our lives so it is best to know that we are doing as we should – we are being our best selves. In this way we are living up to the gifts God has given us, as well as making the most of the gift of life. We are present, we are aware; we are not passing time, waiting for something or someone else.
Faith is a gift from God. It is neither deserved nor earned. Why do I have faith? I could say a lot of things but do any of them really name why? The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of those who benefited from their faith, such as Abraham. Because faith is a gift from God, that is why we can say we have been ‘chosen by God’. This is not about us being deserving – it is a gift from God. The question is: what are we going to do with that gift? Will we value and appreciate it? Will we do what we can to develop that gift of faith? Will we live by God’s rules – love, compassion, justice and mercy? Like all of God’s gifts, it is not just for me, it is for benefit of the community.
The sun’s dimming rays
create a swathe
sky and cloud,
blue, white, gold,
shades of grey
across the sky.
These along with textures from clouds
combine to form
this unrepeatable and ethereal
vision of a sunset.
I am grateful for the beauty
and I thank God
for this grace
along with the gift of sight
and a glimpse of my tiny thread
in the grand tapestry of creation.
Readings: Ecc 2:21-23; Col 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21
Humans can live in a way where they are constantly striving to have more. The accumulation of ‘stuff’ is proof of our capacity, our status. While the names and type of ‘stuff’ accrued has varied over the centuries, the desire, dare I say, addiction has not. Our society has a myriad ways of enhancing the externals. In so doing we forget a fundamental fact about humanity – we are human beings not human doings. Better to live out the message of Oscar Romero of El Salvador: ‘Strive not to have more but to be more’.
This lesson emerges from today’s readings. In the first reading, Ecclesiastes points towards the foolishness of striving to have more since we lose it all at death, along with the lack of appreciation of those who have not earned things. Colossians reminds us that all externals and all our desires are as nothing. What matters, rather, is our connection in Christ.
These points are amplified in today’s Gospel, beginning with Jesus saying ‘one’s life does not consist of possessions’ (Luke 12:15). In case the point has not been made sufficiently, Jesus tells a parable outlining how pointless it is to store up material wealth rather than being ‘rich in what matters to God’. What is that kind of rich? Rich in terms of doing justice and being in right relationships with those around us.
Readings: Gen 18:20-32; Ps 138:1-8; Luke 11:1-13
We can each get so caught up in our achievements, our ability – foolishly thinking we have control over our lives. Then something will occur to open our eyes, such as grief. We each need God. If we are lucky we will remain ‘awake’ after such an experience, but there are so many forces, within and without, that want us to return to the illusion.
This week’s readings each take up this theme. The first reading sees Abraham pleading with God on behalf of the people of Sodom. He slowly bargains God down such that if God finds 10 innocent people in Sodom, the city will be spared. We know what happened. A city living in the illusion of control.
The responsorial psalm emphasises that God answers those that call for help – those whose eyes have been opened.
After we acknowledge our need of God, what then? The Gospel has Jesus teach his disciples how to pray – through the Our Father. This makes us each sisters and brothers. Jesus goes on to teach them that in their dealings with others they can get what they want through persistence. But God loves each of us unconditionally. So if we want help from God, thus acknowledging our lack of control: ‘ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you’.
to everything on Earth.
When my internal disquiet
drives me to
The moon is a reminder
that change can come
even when all