The Gospel of Luke – The Time of Testing

Of course we all know that after the meal with his disciples that Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Actually, no gospel says that.  Matthew and Mark wrote that he went to a garden. John says he went to Gethsemane. Fuse them all together and you get the “Garden of Gethsemane.”  What does Luke say? Luke only calls it “the place.”  There is no garden specifically mentioned nor is Gethsemane.  Is it important? Well, it is a reminder to be attentive to the text before you and not meld the familiar stories and scenes from other sacred writers.  Each sacred writer has something distinctive that can be missed if one fuses all the details from other accounts. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke: Teaching at the Passover Table

christ224  Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.

In the midst of the Passover to break out into an argument about who would be the greatest – imagine. This scene at table is reminder to be attentive and the problem of discernment to know what is important – especially in “real time.”   The problem is that all of us have a Thanksgiving meal, a birthday party – a time when something important was at hand – and we argued about the most trivial of things.
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The Gospel of Luke – The Passover Meal

Introduction to The Lucan Passion Narrative: The passion narratives provide the climax for each of the four gospels, catching up themes that weave their way through the evangelists’ entire portrayal of Jesus life and bringing them to a dramatic completion. In deft strokes the evangelists tell us of the final hours of Jesus’ life – his last meal with his disciples; his arrest in Gethsemane; his interrogation by the religious leaders; the trial before Pilate; and finally the heart clutching scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial. Continue reading

Entering Jerusalem: the king

Entry_Into_Jerusalem136 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.

As Stoffregen notes, Luke’s account is one that challenges our memory with his own telling of the events. “It is quite ironic to read this as the processional gospel on ‘Palm’ Sunday. There are no ‘branches of palms’ mentioned in Luke’s account as in John (12:13). There are no ‘leaves from the field’ as in Mark (11:8). There are no ‘branches from the trees’ as in Matthew (21:8). There are no leaves or branches of any type mentioned in Luke. (Note that only John talks about ‘palms’!)” Continue reading

Entering Jerusalem: arriving

Entry_Into_Jerusalem1Luke portrays Jesus’ entry into the holy city in four scenes (vv. 28–48), the first two concerned with the acquisition of a colt for the short trip from the Mount of Olives to the city and the entry itself (vv. 28–40). These two serve a common theme—namely, Jesus’ royal personage. As will become evident, the whole process from obtaining a colt to the crowds’ proclaiming Jesus king is wrapped in the eschatological expectation and scriptural allusion (esp. Psalm 118 and Zech 9:9). As mentioned in the introduction (Context), this is a royal person entering a city – not to claim kingship, but as the follow-on to an already achieved victory. This is important because it suggests that Jesus is not about to assert his royal status. This accords well with his acclamation as king even before his birth (1:32–35), and with an interpretation of the preceding chapters of the Lukan narrative as developing the nature of Jesus’ kingship and, therefore, of his kingdom. What Luke is about to narrate, then, assumes the portrait of Jesus already established, with its salvific emphasis on good news to those living on the margins of society (4:18–19). Continue reading

Entering Jerusalem: context

Entry_Into_Jerusalem128 After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. 29 As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. 30 He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’” 32 So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” 34 They answered, “The Master has need of it.” 35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”  Continue reading

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

This coming Sunday marks Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Year C). You can read a complete commentary on this gospel here.

Jesus has been traveling toward Jerusalem since Luke 9:51 (the conclusion of the Lucan narrative of the Transfiguration). The final approach to the holy city is marked with a third passion prediction (18:31-34), two scenes in the nearby city of Jericho (18:35-43; 19:1-10) and the parable of the talents (19:11-27) – the latter of which highlights a kingly figure coming to claim what was rightfully his. With this preceding, Jesus makes his entrance procession into Jerusalem. Continue reading

5th Sunday in Lent

This coming Sunday marks the fifth Sunday in Lent (Year C; but if you are attending a Mass at which one of the RCIA scrutinies is celebrating, you will hear readings other readings).You can read a complete commentary on this gospel here.

The story focuses on the murderous impulse of “all the people” (v.2) when the scribes and Pharisees present “a woman who had been caught in adultery ” (v.3). The intention of the scribes and Pharisee was to simply use the woman and her circumstances “so that they could have some charge to bring against [Jesus]” (v.6) in order to fulfill their own murderous intent against Jesus (7:1). Their immediate goal is to trap Jesus between the requirements of the Law (cf. Lev 24:1-6 and Dt 13:10; 17:2-7) and his teaching of forgiveness and reconciliation. Will Jesus show himself to be a true son of Moses and do what the Law requires, i.e. agree that stoning the woman is the God-intended course of action? Will he defy the law and offer forgiveness. Continue reading

4th Sunday in Lent

This coming Sunday marks the fourth Sunday in Lent (Year C; but if you are attending a Mass at which one of the RCIA scrutinies is celebrating, you will hear readings other readings).You can read a complete commentary on this gospel here.

The traditional title of the parable focuses on the younger son who left home, the so-called prodigal son. Pause for a moment and ask your self if you know the definition of “prodigal.”  Years of leading Bible Studies has revealed that many people think “prodigal” carries the meaning of disrespectful, sinful – after all, didn’t the young man waste all his money on wine, women, and song – at least that is the charge of his older brother. Regardless of how the money – or more to the point – the inheritance was wasted, it is the waste that is key. The word “prodigal” means wasteful, profligate, or reckless. Continue reading

3rd Sunday in Lent

This coming Sunday marks the third Sunday in Lent (Year C; but if you are attending a Mass at which one of the RCIA scrutinies is celebrating, you will hear readings other readings).You can read a complete commentary on this gospel here.

This gospel for the 3rd Sunday in Lent (Luke 13:1-9) is a pointed gospel about repentance, bearing fruit, and the time given us – and this well placed for the Lenten season. However, it is far removed from its narrative context. The 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (summer season after Easter) begins in Luke 10. The sequential chapters of Luke are covered every Sunday up through the 20th Sunday which completes Luke 12. The 21st Sunday, skips over today’s gospel and begins with 13:22-30. So, in addition to its Lenten context, it would be good to review the larger context from the Lucan narrative stream. Continue reading