The context is always Important!
Luke writes about the events in Chapters 15 to 17 as if they happened on a journey to Jerusalem where “they” will do to this Prophet what “they” have been doing to all the Prophets. In fact, Jesus and the disciples were journeying to Jerusalem.
On the way Jesus engages with crowds, opponents and disciples. Go back again and see the different scenarios over the past few weeks. Whilst not mentioned in today’s excerpt, Chapter 16 begins with the statement “they (Pharisees) heard these things and mocked him”!
So once again the theme of rejection of the Prophet by the religious leaders is exposed, along with Jesus’ response suggesting, as well, their own rejection by God.
In yet another illustration of the call to the Kingdom and the allure of the gifts of the world, we have the rich man and the poor man, a timeless tale, readily adaptable in our own time. Take the reported instance of the person occupying the high office in our land who can afford to drink water with his wine, even when the wine is Grange! Many a person, even today in Australia, would, in Gospel terms, “long to be filled with what falls from that table.”
Appropriate almsgiving could have saved the rich man then. For he would be listening to the word of God via the Prophets. Rejection of that word meant rejection for him and his family. Yes, life is full of good things; for some, food and drink; for others like Lazarus, it is the freedom in God from misery and suffering, which we can do something about as a world people…even in Syria. Our question, maybe, is where do we find goodness and how do we share that with others?
The final alert is in the last sentence and is still valid today. St Paul said “if Christ be not risen then our faith be in vain”. But Christ is risen. As then so today: “They will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”
“What am I to do?”
We are still on the road to Jerusalem. The master is still under surveillance. Our Gospel journey (notice our many sporting clubs are on a ‘journey’, particularly at this moment ) has just related three confrontations with opponents to Jesus and now he addresses his chosen few. We are not sure what prompted this incident. Did someone report the latest juicy story about a manager who was not ready to give an account of his actions and had found a clever way to make sure he had friends in the future? There were no social services in 30AD.
So much of the teaching is about how you manage possessions, with the implication that in time there will be a “Visitation of the Lord”. Possessions as such are not the basic problem!
You and I are the new, or continuing, “Children of the light” and we, too, will have a visitation of our Lord. Jesus is trying to alert the disciples to the dilemma and to enable them to make an astute response to the same question “What must I do?”
Part of the answer is found in Amos. We now market our wheat on the Sabbath….Is it time we began to recapture the reality as well as the spirit of the Sabbath?
Part of the answer is alluded to in Paul’s instructions to Timothy…a deep appreciation of the need for and place of prayer in our lives, particularly for men.
It is a timeless lesson this week. We all feel the tug between what we have, what we want, what we need and sometimes we remember “the time of our visitation”.
What then must I do?
I, too, cannot be the slave of God and of money
It is finals time in country Victoria and elsewhere for footy and netball. North Bendigo defeated Gunbower Leitchville in the Heathcote league. The ‘Coddabeens’ were covering and the conversation soon got round to the challenges facing country towns. Lack of volunteers, lack of players, lack of time etc. One response to the lack of time was “they (it is always ‘they’) are too busy looking at their iPhones!” Priorities!!
We are still in Luke’s section in which we are being invited to the banquet, and the qualities required to attend. Last week at table, the invitation was addressed to those who had invited Jesus thinking they had it all under control. Their meal was turned upside down. This week we are all on the receiving end. And watching our iPhone will not be a sufficient excuse.
These references to the banquet (the Kingdom) and the demands of discipleship together make the same point…the call of God issued by the prophet must relativise all other claims on life.
Thus, Jesus uses all sorts of words and images to illustrate his point. We are commanded to love our parents and our neighbour …and to love our God. Finding the balance can be tricky and difficult but find it we must. Spending too much time with our iPhone could disturb the balance. Our entanglement with persons, crusades, movements can, in effect, be a sight screen to justify our rejection or refusal of the invitation to the banquet.
May we pray with the Psalmist today: “In the morning Lord, fill me with your love.”
What a great way to begin the day.
- For all you loyal Magpie supporters- we were robbed. See you in 2017.