Locating our gospel

This coming Sunday is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time in Lectionary Cycle C. We are reading from the Gospel of Luke as we have since Pentecost. These readings are part of the journey to Jerusalem during which the principle theme of discipleship is addressed. Jesus continues to teach about the nature of discipleship (see, judge, and act), the urgency of the decision to become a faithful and prudent disciple, and that our decisions and actions have consequences in terms of the kingdom of heaven.

It should be noted that large portions of Luke 13 and 14 are not used for Sunday gospels. Among the portions missing from the recent series of Sunday gospels are

    • —Sunday’s gospel from two weeks ago (12:49-53) — 
      • Jesus’ call to read the signs of the times as well as one reads the weather in order that one may judge rightly (12:54-59)
      • The parable of the fig tree that is permitted to remain in the vineyard for another season even though it has not yet produced fruit (13:1-9)
      • A healing of a women, afflicted for 18 years, who was healed on the Sabbath that Jesus might again teach the meaning of the kingdom of God (13:10-17)
      • The parable of the mustard seed (13:18-21)
    • —Last Sunday’s gospel (13:22-20) — 
      • The lament of Jerusalem’s unfaithfulness (13:31-35)
      • A healing on the Sabbath at table (14:2-6)
    • —This Sunday’s gospel (14:1, 7-14) —
      • The parable of the great feast (14:15-24)
      • The cost of discipleship and the necessity of preparations (14:25-35)

Perhaps most noteworthy is to understand that our gospel verses are positioned after Jesus exhortation to strive to enter that place where “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God” (13:28) are assembled (from the gospel of the previous week; 21st Sunday) and before the parable of the great feast (14:15-24) which speaks to the OT image of the reign of God as likened to a great banquet. A message from this positioning is that the attitudes of discipleship in this life are reflected in the banquet of the reign of God.

In this week’s gospel Jesus addresses a fundamental posture or attitude that is a constituent portion of discipleship: humility.  This is not a new topic addressed to his disciples.  Consider Luke 9:

46 An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” 

Tomorrow, some thoughts on humility.

Image: A Place of Honor According to Jeshua from https://www.breadforbeggars.com

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