Monthly Archives: July, 2019

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Genesis 18:20-32
Abraham pleads with God to save the innocent people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 138:1-3,6-8
Lord, on the day I cried for help, you answered me.

Second Reading
Colossians 2:12-14
You were buried with Christ in Baptism and also raised with him.

Gospel Reading
Luke 11:1-13
Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Luke gives more attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer than any other Gospel writer. He also mentions Jesus at prayer more than the others. In today’s reading, from the beginning of Chapter 11 of his Gospel, Luke presents the core of Jesus’ teaching on prayer. It consists of Jesus teaching a prayer to his disciples, a parable on the persistent neighbor, and assurances that God hears our prayers.

The disciples notice Jesus praying “in a certain place.” They ask him to teach them to pray just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples. Jesus teaches them a simple version of the most famous Christian prayer, the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew’s version shows signs of being shaped by public prayer. Luke’s version is probably closer to the original form that Jesus taught. Stripped of much of the language we are used to, Luke’s version seems simple and direct. We pray that God’s name will be recognized as holy and that his rule over all will be established. This is followed by petitions for our needs for bread, for forgiveness, and for deliverance. Luke uses the more theological language of “sins” rather than “debts,” which is used in Matthew’s version.

Having taught his disciples a simple, daily prayer, Jesus goes on to reassure them that God answers prayers. First he tells a parable about a persistent neighbor who asks a friend for bread at midnight. The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door. But because the neighbor is persistent, the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs. If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests?

This teaching concludes with the reminder that if we seek, we will get a response. If a human father, with all his faults, knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more will our heavenly Father give us? Instead of good gifts, however, Luke substitutes the word Holy Spirit. This foreshadows the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is central to Luke’s theology and who will play an important role in the growth of the early Church after Pentecost.

The parable and the concluding teaching in this section should not lead us to think of prayer as a series of requests presented to God. Rather, as Jesus teaches in his model prayer, prayer consists in recognizing God’s holiness and his rule over all things.- loyolapress.com

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Genesis 18:1-10a
Abraham entertains three strangers and is promised a son.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 15:2-5
Those who do justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Second Reading
Colossians 1:24-28
The mystery hidden from ages past has now been revealed in Christ.

Gospel Reading
Luke 10:38-42
Jesus visits the house of Martha and Mary.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The story of Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary complements the story of the Good Samaritan, which immediately precedes it in Luke’s Gospel. Both stories are unique to Luke. The story of the Samaritan opens with the words “a certain man.” Today’s reading opens with the words “a certain woman.” The Samaritan is an example of how a disciple should see and act. Mary is an example of how a disciple should listen. Mary, a woman, is a marginalized person in society, like the Samaritan. Both do what is not expected of them. As a woman, Mary would be expected, like Martha, to prepare hospitality for a guest. Here again Jesus breaks with the social conventions of his time. Just as a Samaritan would not be a model for neighborliness, so a woman would not sit with the men around the feet of a teacher.

Both stories exemplify how a disciple is to fulfill the dual command which begins chapter 10—love of God (Mary) and love of neighbor (the Samaritan). These are the two essentials of life in the kingdom. By using the examples of a Samaritan and a woman, however, Jesus is saying something more. Social codes and boundaries were strict in Jesus’ time. Yet to love God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbor requires breaking those rules. The Kingdom of God is a society without distinctions and boundaries between its members. It is a society that requires times for seeing and doing and also times for listening and learning at the feet of a teacher.- loyolapress.com

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Moses reminds the people that God’s commandments are not remote but are already in their hearts.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 69:14,17,30-31,36-37
Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

Second Reading
Colossians 1:15-20
Jesus is the head of the body, the Church.

Gospel Reading
Luke 10:25-37
The parable of the Good Samaritan

Background on the Gospel Reading

As Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem, he is confronted by a scholar of the law who wants to test him. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. Here, in Luke’s Gospel, the lawyer asks what we must do to inherit eternal life. In the other two Gospels, Jesus answers the question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, on loving God with all your heart, and Leviticus 19:18, on loving your neighbor. Here Jesus asks the expert to answer this question, “What is written in the law?” The man is caught and responds with Deuteronomy 6:5. This verse is one of the most important prayers in Judaism, and it was said twice a day in Jesus’ time. Love of God and love of neighbor are what is required for eternal life. Jesus’ response is simple, “Do this and you will live.”

Having been shown up by Jesus, the lawyer tries another question: Who is my neighbor whom I must love like myself? In the society of Jesus’ time, with its distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, men and women, clean and unclean, this was a trick question. Jesus responds with one of the most beautiful of all the parables, the Good Samaritan. It is found only in Luke’s Gospel.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho descends 3,300 feet in just 17 miles. Its narrow passes and rocky terrain made it an easy place for bandits to wait for travelers. The traveler in this parable is identified only as “a certain man.” Luke uses this phrase in many of his parables so that the audience, Jew or Gentile, could identify with the man. After the attack, the man is left for dead, naked and bleeding on the side of the road. A priest comes along, but rather than helping, as one might expect, he moves to the other side of the road. Another religious person comes along, a Levite who assists in the Temple. His reaction is the same as the priest’s. Both of them choose to not even find out if the man is alive. A third person comes along. The listeners would probably expect him to be an Israelite. This would make the parable a criticism of the religious leadership. Instead he is a Samaritan, an Israelite’s most hated neighbor. Samaritans were descendents of Jews from the northern part of the country, who had intermarried with Gentiles and did not worship in Jerusalem. The Samaritan not only goes over to the injured man but cleans his wounds, puts him on his own animal, takes him to an inn to recover, and promises to pay all his expenses. The hated enemy is the compassionate neighbor in this parable.

Jesus has demolished all boundary expectations. It is not social definitions such as class, religion, gender, or ethnicity that determines who is our neighbor. A neighbor is a person who acts with compassion toward another. The point becomes not who deserves to be loved as I love myself, but that I become a person who treats everyone with compassion.

When Jesus asks the lawyer who was the neighbor in the story, the lawyer can’t bring himself to say it was the Samaritan. All he says is that it was “the one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus’ response was similar to that of the first discussion: “Go and do likewise.” The lawyer, and we, know what is right. The key is to do it.- loyolapress.com

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Isaiah 66:10-14c
I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 123:1-4
Our eyes are fixed on the Lord.

Second Reading
Galatians 6:14-18
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel Reading
Luke 10:1-12,17-20
Jesus sends out 72 people to announce the coming kingdom.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel begins immediately after the final verse in last Sunday’s Gospel. After strong language about the difficulties of discipleship, Jesus immediately appoints 72 people to go ahead of him to every town and place he plans to visit, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He sends them in pairs. In the Law of Moses two witnesses were needed for a testimony to be credible. It was probably also a safer way to travel.

Jesus admits it will be difficult, that he is sending them out like lambs among wolves. Yet they are to bring nothing with them, not even a money bag or sandals. They are to greet no one on the way so as not to be distracted from their mission. When they enter a house, their message is simply “peace.” The response they will receive may be positive or negative. Either way, they are to know that the Kingdom of God is at hand. They are not to demand special treatment but eat and drink whatever is given them. They are to stay in one house and are not to look around for one that provides better accommodations. They are to heal the sick as a sign that the Kingdom of God is at hand for them. Like Jesus’ miracles, healing is a sign of the coming of the kingdom. If the town will not receive them, they are to shake the dust from their feet and move on. Even in the case of such rejection they should know that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

When they return from their journeys, they are rejoicing because their mission has been successful. Demons were under their power because of Jesus’ name. Jesus may have sent them out as lambs among wolves, but at the conclusion of this passage he assures them that they have been given power over the enemy and nothing will harm them, not even serpents and scorpions.

A key theme of today’s Gospel and last Sunday’s Gospel is discipleship—its challenges, its difficulties, and its rewards. Sharing in the mission of Jesus is difficult, but everyone is called to do it, not just some professionals trained for ministry. Even for us today, the harvest is plentiful. We should pray to the master of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.- loyolapress.com

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