Monday of week 29 in Ordinary Time: Ephesians 2:1-10,Psalm 99(100),Luke 12:13-21
It is not very common for Jesus to simply ignore a question - but in this encounter with the Rich Young Man, that is exactly what he does, simply brushing aside the question on inheritance. This emphasises His complete indifference to possessions which we have seen elsewhere - e.g. His call is to "leave everything, and follow me” [Luke 14:25-27]. The question might seem entirely reasonable - why would the children of a recently deceased and possibly wealthy person not have a reasonable claim to an equal share in the estate - and note - this person was only asking for any share, not an equal share and was apparently already wealthy.
In today’s passage from the letter to the Ephesians we hear about God the Fathers’ endless gift of grace. Grace is not some kind of magic potion that is poured into our souls and on which we run.. it is the unmerited, and unlimited, love that forms our relationship with God. Unlike the inheritance from todays’ Gospel, it is not possible for one to posses it - one can no more possess grace than one may possess a thought or a dream. Unlike that inheritance, when we die and move on to His kingdom in heaven that gift of grace will only grow as we become fully immersed in our relationship with God.
Tuesday of week 29 in Ordinary Time: Ephesians 2:12-22; Psalm 84(85):9-14; Luke 12:36-38
Over the preceding passages in Luke, Jesus’ focus was on how to live the life of an apostle - being humble, not like the Pharisees, do not be afraid of those who can only kill your body, do not place value in the things of this world, but only on the riches you can amass in Heaven. Now, He moves towards teaching what the future holds for us: the Servant-King will wait on us, care for us, and provide a place for us in His Fathers’ house. Paul, in his letter to Thessalonians, reminds us of this - wherever we come from, He will provide a place for us. It is certainly a scandal that we Christians are continuing to be separated from each other and we must pray for christian unity, and meanwhile christian harmony. But we are assured that all of God’s people are saved by the action of Christ though his cross and resurrection.
Wednesday of week 29 in Ordinary Time: Ephesians 3:2-12; Isaiah 12; Luke 12:39-48
There was a certain sense of urgency, evident in Paul’s letters, and in Lukes’ Gospel and Acts, that the time of the Lord’s second coming was imminent - so in haste, make ready, and be prepared! Over two thousand years later - we appreciate that the time of the Lord has in one sense been present due to his triumph through the Cross and Resurrection. We live in the time of hope; the time of evil’s reign has passed.
In another sense, for every one of us the time is imminent - we do not know the date or time that the Lord will call us back to him. We possibly have all at least thought about this over the past few months of uncertainty in this Pandemic - we may all know someone who has had or is experienceing an up close and personal experience of the fragility of human life. Jesus does care: he came here and suffered with and for us.
St Paul tells us what we should do for each other (italics, are quotes from Thessalonians)
Through our baptisms, We have been made servants of the gospel by a gift of grace from God who gave it to us by his own power. We, who are less than the least of all the saints have been entrusted with this special grace, not only of proclaiming to each other the infinite treasure of Christ but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. Why? So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, - the people of God - how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is why we are bold enough to approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him.
Thursday of week 29 in Ordinary Time: Ephesians 3:14-21; Psalm 32(33); Luke 12:49-53
There are a number of well known songs referencing today's reading from Ephesians - a sure sign that the passage quoted is of some significance. Today's prayer is one of a set - the other was read in the last two days last week - which frame an explanation between them, of the Mystery of our salvation, and that this Salvation extends to all people, gentile and Jew alike. In the first prayer, Paul prays in thanks for the faithfullness of the Ephesians, and prays that they will be granted the gift of Wisdom and Understanding. Then Chapter 2 and 3 of the letter explain salvation (and it is recommended to read through them in one sitting if you can find time) before we have today's prayer for the gifts of strength to live knowing we are sharing in the divine live of our Lord Jesus.
If then we are to live in harmony and love between Gentile and Jew - today's Gospel might come as a bit of a blunt companion to Paul's letter as Jesus himself is here saying he came to bring division on Earth. For Christians and Jews, the idea of the family - the core unit of our life - be divided against itself is shocking. This is an example of Jesus using deliberately disturbing language to point to a higher truth - other examples are 'if your eye causes you to sin then puck it out' and 'let the dead bury the dead'. And the higher truth is that we must hold nothing - nothing at all - as more important than our relationship with Jesus. If even the family, the most precious thing in our lives, can be sacrificed if needed to follow Jesus, then how much more should we discard the petty jealousies, evasions, habits and hypocrisies in order to follow Him!
Friday of week 29 in Ordinary Time: Ephesians 4:1-6;Psalm 23(24); Luke 12:54-59
Following from the preceding chapters in which Paul urges the need to build one church of unity from among the Gentiles and Jews, and the subsequent prayer, he now moves into a section in which he re-emphasises the need for unity - one body - see also 1 Corinthians 12:12 "just as the body, with its many parts, is one body"...
Pope Francis also takes this as his theme in much that he writes - Fratelli Tutti - "On Fraternity and Social Friendship" - being the most recent. He gives us timely warnings to beware of tribalism - that human tendency to easily mis-trust those who are 'other' in any way, and to watch out for those who are exploiting this to drive their own purposes. Paul saw communities in the early church having the same issues and wrote forcefully against it. And Jesus himself said - 'Father, may they be one as we are one'. (John 17:21). In Today's gospel, Jesus is telling us to use our human senses to discern what is going on around us - and to Judge for ourselves what is right - and most of all, to do what is right even if society is going in the other direction.
Saturday of week 29 in Ordinary Time: Ephesians 4:7-16; Psalm 121(122):1-5; Luke 13:1-9
One aspect of Luke's Gospel is his optimism! He stresses the positive in all things. For examples - the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and perhaps most of all the prodigal son - all show how God is constantly looking for His children, welcoming them even when they have gone astray.
Today Luke talks of the optimistic care of a tired old barren fig tree - to a farmer not something of any emotional or financial worth and about to be discarded - but the orchard's owner (God) demands another year of feeding, tending, and caring just in case the tree should once more produce fruit. By contrast in Mark and Matthew, the barren fig tree is cursed!
Figs are an astonishing sign of the creativity of God. A particular wasp has to lay her egg in a fig's bud. The eggs hatch, and as the females emerge they collect pollen - in this way cross-pollinating with the fig bud in which she subsequently lays her eggs. There are also specific parasitic wasps that lay eggs inside the larvae of the other wasps having evolved long tubes by which they inject eggs into the larvae deep inside the fruit... Gods creation is rich and varied indeed!