Wednesday, October 18, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for Wednesday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings
Readings for Feast of St Luke are: Lectionary no. 661 (2Tm 4: 10-17b; Ps 145: 10-11, 12-13, 17-18; Lk 10: 1-9)
2Timothy 4:10-17: Paul’s request is significant: “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he can be of great service to me.” Paul and Barnabas had split up before a mission trip through Syria:
Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company.
It should console us in our own pettiness to know that even the great apostles could not always get along. But even more consoling is the fact that they were eventually reconciled and Paul called for Mark’s help from prison in Rome. It adds both realism and promise to the Sign of Peace we give at Mass!
Paul is still critical. He says, “Demas, enamored of the present world, has left me.... I have no one with me but Luke.... Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm... In fact, everyone abandoned me.” But for encouragement and hope he looks to the “end time”:
But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the preaching task might be completed and all the nations might hear the Gospel.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
We know that Paul was only “rescued” by being taken from his prison to martyrdom—but that is the ultimate rescue and the greatest victory. We proclaim this during the Rite of Communion: “Happy are those who are invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!” Those who kill us just open the door to the party. There, forever and ever, “Your friends tell the glory of your kingship, Lord!”
In Luke 10:1-9 we see already the themes of the “end time” that we celebrate in the Rite of Communion.
“The harvest is rich”: Jesus calls us to focus on the fruit of our labors.
“Ask the harvest master to send laborers”: We are consecrated as “stewards of his kingship” to work until the harvest is complete.
“As lambs in the midst of wolves”: There will be resistance. We may not see the fruit of our labors. We need faith and hope to persevere in love.
“Say, ‘Peace...’”: Jesus came to establish the “peace and unity” of his kingdom. We announce it and work for it.
“Say, ‘The reign of God is at hand.’” This was Jesus’ “headline proclamation.” It is the first and last line of the Good News.
This is both the background and the present focus of the Rite of Communion. We are “awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” And working to bring it about.
Initiative: Look to the harvest. Labor in the vineyard.
Bonus: Reflection for Week Twenty-Eight in Ordinary time
Help Guide the Church into the Way of Love
Lectionary no. 469 (Rom 2: 1-11; Ps 62; Lk 11: 42-46)
The Responsorial Psalm calls us to trust that our efforts for God will not go unrewarded: “Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works” (Psalm 62). Jesus promised that our reward will include seeing (in heaven , at least) the fruits of our labors: “I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Have hope.
When Paul reaffirms, in Romans 2: 1-11 that God “will repay everyone according to his works,” he begins by warning the legalists who were judging others for not observing rules. Only God can judge, and when we do judge — ourselves as well as others — we tend to underestimate God’s “priceless kindness, forbearance and patience.” It is the awareness of God’s kindness that “would lead [us] to repentance” — and make us less ready to condemn others. But we “stop short.” We don’t use our knowledge of God. This is unfaithful stewardship.
Even when he condemns, Paul’s bottom line is positive: “There will be… glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good.” We need to focus on that, look forward to it and draw courage from it.
In his lifetime, the people Jesus had the most trouble with were the Pharisees and “scholars of the law.” In Luke 11: 42-46 he criticized the law-addicts so severely they said, “You are insulting us.” But the second-best encouragement we can give people is to point out what they are doing wrong! (The best is to show them what is right).
What Jesus shows us here is the vicious destructiveness of a religion focused on law-observance. He condemns the Pharisees (in every age) because they focus on keeping rules without reflecting on the mind and heart of God that calls them beyond rules — and beyond anything that can be made specific in a rule — to right “judgment and the love of God.” He condemns the priests and “promoters of the law” who “impose on people burdens hard to bear” without “lifting a finger to ease them.”
If they were faithful stewards, they would use what God has revealed of his mind and heart to interpret, apply and temper laws to fit the needs and weaknesses of people. They would consider the circumstances in which people find themselves and treat them with compassion.
To know the problem is to be pointed toward a solution. It is the responsibility of every baptized “steward of Christ” to help guide the Church into the way of love. To do this, all must first strive to learn the heart of Christ in prayer.
Action: Be Christ’s steward. See beyond law to love. And give hope.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry