Today's Scripture Reading Reflection

Creighton U. Daily Reflection

October 27, 2021
by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Creighton University's Division of Mission and Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 481

Romans 8:26-30
Psalm 13:4-5, 6
Luke 13:22-30

Praying Ordinary Time

The Passage from the Gospel of Luke that the Church invites us to consider today is taken from the section of the Gospel toward the end of Jesus’ life here on earth as he moves toward Jerusalem with the clear sense that Abba, God the Father, is asking him to go there and proclaim the good news.  By just knowing the history of prophets in the Jewish Tradition, Jesus knew that Jerusalem is always dangerous for those who announce the prophetic word.  The city set on a mountain top ought to be the place of peace and celebration of God’s love for God’s people, but too often in the history of Israel (and in the history of the New Israel, the Christian Church) the message of God has been misinterpreted – one could say turned insight out, and God’s people are going the exactly wrong way when they believe they are following God’s desires. 

Why the misinterpretation?  I suspect it is because God’s word seems too hard.  It is the narrow way that requires careful and thoughtful navigation with dangers abounding on all sides – or so says Luke’s Gospel today.  To discern what God desires of us is not exactly to follow our own desires nor to reject our own desires but to patiently pray to know Jesus’ mind and heart, while praying for freedom from pushes and pulls that are all about ourselves.

Just as political power can be a destructive force in our spiritual journey so even the politics of religious structures can entice to that trap of twisting the many levels of leadership into self-glorification or comfort rather than service of others. 

Today’s Gospel reminds me that Jesus will know and affirm my friendship for eternal life if I have bothered to know and affirm his pattern of service.  I don’t know how he affirms those who are not overtly Christian in our world – I only know that in justice and mercy there are multiple ways.  Because he has called me to the Christian community, my responsibility is to discover how to stay on the path of the Gospels as interpreted by the faith community these past 2000 years and not to determine that I know it all or can always judge rightly by myself in any case. 

Jesus calls us to understand that just attending Eucharist and sharing in the bread of life is not enough (we ate and drank in your company) in fact the gifts of the communion of saints are just that, gifts to make it possible to be faithful to the narrow way.  Jesus gives us all we need to be companions, but we will fail in that relationship if we do not labor to understand what it means to be in his company today.

Did I spend time in silence listening to the challenges of today and sorting where the Father’s path will lead me in the multiple tasks of today?  I might be shocked that it will be a difficult twist or turn that I need to navigate today on the path, or I might discover that today is clear and easy to follow – or something between these extremes, but there is no time that I can ignore what is on the path before or behind me if I am to remain faithful to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I wish in many ways it were easier.  I wish I could be sure that I am marked by Baptism as “saved;” I wish the Cross was for other Christians.  I even could wish the path was more clearly marked.  But it wasn’t easier for Jesus and His way is the only way I want to proceed.  As ordinary time draws to its end point the Church reminds me that the way of Jesus and the Father is also the way of the Spirit.  If I want to belong to Christ’s Kingdom and hear his voice of welcome rather than rejection, I need to beg the Spirit for the gift to discern today’s section of the path, so that I might be faithful to a way that is so contradictory to the world’s way.   I want to be one of those who comes from the west to recline at Jesus’ table in God the Father’s Reign.

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