Scripture for this week

The gospel readings for this 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Tuesday through Thursday) come from a section of Luke’s gospel – Luke 11:37-54. Three daily gospels are considered part of one pericope (fancy work meaning one narrative) from Luke’s writing. The parameters of this narrative unit are carefully marked: “he entered … he left” (vv. 37, 53). I will post each day about the daily gospel, but thought that today I would provide some context. Our reading come from the “travel narrative” (9:5119:27) which begins following the Transfiguration, Jesus “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). From then, leading up to our passage, we encounter narratives about:

  • would-be followers of Jesus (9:57-62)
  • the 72 disciples sent out on mission (10:1-22)
  • the Parable of the Good Samaritan (10:25-37)
  • an encounter with Martha and Mary (10:38-42)
  • discussions about prayer including The Lord’s Prayer (11:1-13)
  • casting out of demons and accusations against Jesus (11:14-28)
  • an evil generation who asks for signs of Jesus’ authority (11:29-22)

From these encounters with a variety of people, Jesus now engages Pharisees and scholars at the table of a Pharisee. As noted, the parameters of this narrative unit are carefully marked: “he entered … he left” (vv 37, 53). Controversies with the Pharisees are regularly set by Luke within the context of Jesus’ eating with Pharisees (Lk 5:29–39; 7:36–50; 14:1–24). This particular encounter is framed by Luke with the verses that come immediately before:

33 “No one who lights a lamp hides it away or places it (under a bushel basket), but on a lampstand so that those who enter might see the light.34 The lamp of the body is your eye. When your eye is sound, then your whole body is filled with light, but when it is bad, then your body is in darkness.35 Take care, then, that the light in you not become darkness.36 If your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is in darkness, then it will be as full of light as a lamp illuminating you with its brightness.”  (Luke 11:33-36)

The saying about the lamp, used earlier in the context of listening to the word of God (8:16), is repeated here in a similar context. Jesus and the gospel proclaimed by him are the light (lamp) God offers to his people. To refuse this light (for example, by seeking signs) is to prefer darkness in one’s life. The lamp of the gospel is always burning, but it is not necessarily burning for you (v. 36). A secondary application of the lamp image is to one’s eyes, understood as the window that can be fogged or shaded and thus keep the light from entering the person – which is an appropriate segue to the encounter with the Pharisees and the scholars.

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