Friday, October 31, 2014

The Leaders Sat in Silence

"But they kept silent."

These words describe the response of the scholars of the law and the Pharisees to the question of Jesus about whether it was "lawful to cure on the sabbath."

These men, these leaders, sat in silence.  I figure that when someone sits in silence, it is either because they do not know the answer to a posed question, or they are afraid to answer for fear they will get it wrong.

The scholars and Pharisees knew the technical answer to that question.  It is grounded in the Ten Commandments' "Keep holy the Sabbath."  Jesus knew the answer too.

By curing the man with dropsy on the sabbath, Jesus was showing them something many of us need to learn today:  the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.  Both the letter and spirit play an important part in the exercise of our faith.

We need the letter of the law to keep us on track, to help us become disciplined disciples and obedient followers of our Shepherd.

But we also need to understand the spirit of the law, because the exercise of it keeps us from becoming rigid, narrow-minded and judgmental.

In this example, Jesus shows those gathered that there are times when helping another is a higher priority than following the letter of the law. 

Ask yourself . . .

Do I practice my faith as if everything is black and white?
Do I judge the actions of others by my own standard?
Do I try to bully others into practicing religion MY way?
Do I recognize God's will and try to follow it?

Take some time this week to reflect on the passage below.  Do a little self-evaluation and see if your heart needs to be opened to the ways of Christ.

God bless,

 Luke 14:1-6

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
But they kept silent; so he took the man and,
after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them
“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern,
would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?”
But they were unable to answer his question.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Are you a busy, holy person?

Are you a busy person?  Do you have your fingers in lots of pots?  Do you pride yourself in all that you do?

Sometimes we can mistakenly think that being busy is equal to being important.  But there are other times that we simply keep saying yes to God and others out of a sincere desire to do what we can.

No matter what our intentions are, there is great danger in this if we find ourselves recounting for others all that we do.  And while pride may be the culprit here, it goes much deeper because it goes against what Jesus asks of us.

In today's reading from the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 10:17) the disciples that Jesus had sent our earlier are returning.  They are excited.  It seems they are almost giddy with excitement as they discovered, perhaps while they were out on mission, that they have been given the power to overcome demons.

They said to Jesus, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name."  They recognized the power to do this work came from Jesus, which is a good thing to recognize, but Jesus responds quickly.

He basically tells them that he gave them the power to overcome the enemy and promises them they will not be harmed, but--and here is the key--he tells them not to rejoice because of their ability to do this, but because their "names are written in heaven."

In other words, you are chosen, you are doing what I have asked, and for that you will have the reward of heaven.  Don't be so focused on what you have been called to do, or how much has been asked of you. Don't recount for others all of the things you are accomplishing in my name.  Your real concern should be simply that you are doing what you have been asked to do and for that you will have eternal life.

So, whenever we start thinking we are "all that" because of all that we do, it would be wise to reflect on this passage and in true humility, thank God for the opportunities that he gives us to participate in his work, and for the grace to do it.

One last thought on this passage . . . if you read a little earlier in Chapter 10 about the sending of the Seventy-two, notice that they went without having received the promise of power.  Why do you suppose they were willing to go?

Hopefully, for the same reason each of us does what we do--out of a love of God.  Anything less than that will leave us burned out and frustrated, because, while working in God's kingdom may bring rejoicing, it can also bring suffering.

As St. Paul liked to say, discipleship is about finishing the race.

God bless,