A final thought

This coming Sunday is the 8th Sunday in Lectionary Cycle C. Let us close with a final thought from Alan Culpepper (152):

Once there was a man who took great pride in his automobile. He performed all the routine maintenance on schedule and kept the car clean inside and out. When he could afford to do so, he began to trade cars every couple of years so that he always had a relatively new vehicle. He also traded up, getting a larger, more luxurious car each time. Then he began to trade every year so that he would always have the current model. Eventually, he got to the point where he would buy a new car, drive it home, and leave it in the garage. He refused to use it because he didn’t want to put any miles on it or run the risk of getting it scratched. So the new car just sat—pretty, but never used. This could be a parable of the way some people treat their faith, becoming less and less active in church while professing more and more strongly that they are committed Christians.

Jesus knew that it would not be easy for anyone to respond to the call to discipleship. The simple call, “Follow me,” meant such a radical change of life. Knowing how difficult it would be, Jesus concluded the sermon with sayings that warn about the urgency of putting discipleship into practice.

The Foundation

This coming Sunday is the 8th Sunday in Lectionary Cycle C. Again we are considering the “Sermon on the Plains” from the Gospel of Luke. In yesterday’s post we noted that the consistency of heart and action, when pointed to Jesus, will bear the fruit of the Kingdom. As John Nolan remarked:  “Whether one likes it or not, what one produces is finally a product of what one is.” Continue reading

Splinters and Logs

This coming Sunday is the 8th Sunday in Lectionary Cycle C. Again we are considering the “Sermon on the Plains” from the Gospel of Luke. In yesterday’s post we noted that Jesus is preparing his disciples to “be like the teacher” in that they truly begin to see the kingdom and are no longer blind. The first part of the sermon has offered a new understanding of the values of heart and action called for by God. Even if the listener decides to choose Jesus as the teacher, to what degree will they follow? Will they act on this new understanding? Will they persevere to become “fully trained” and become like their teacher? Continue reading


This coming Sunday is the 8th Sunday in Lectionary Cycle C. Again we are considering the “Sermon on the Plains” from the Gospel of Luke. In yesterday’s post we held that this point in the gospel marks a change in which appears a principal call of Luke-Acts: the practical demand of the gospel with emphasis on behavior – not a sole emphasis – but highlighted nonetheless. The issue is one of character and commitments becoming action in the life of the believer. Continue reading

And he told them a parable…

This coming Sunday is the 8th Sunday in Lectionary Cycle C. Again we are considering the “Sermon on the Plains” from the Gospel of Luke. Most years we do not celebrate the 8th Sunday because we will have already begun Lent. But this year, on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday (2022) we again engage Jesus’ preparation of his disciples for mission. Continue reading

Disciples and Discipline

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

15 “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.19 Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:15-20) Continue reading

Wishing to be great: questioning

james-john-sons-of-zebedee35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?” 37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Asking Boldly. Even before the request is revealed, the very sound of the question seems brash: “whatever we ask.” It is as though they want a “blank check” from Jesus. Is it enthusiasm? Is it brazenness? Is it coming from a sense of “I deserve a reward for having followed you these many, many months?” Is it arising from a sense of “I have looked at the other 10 and we are the ones you should pick?” Hard to know, but in any event, Jesus simply asks them what they desire. Continue reading

Are you ready?

During the recent NCAA basketball tournament, it was interesting to see South Carolina makes its run all the way to the Final Four. The coach, Frank Martin, just seems to me to be a wonderful blend of “old school” and yet able to connect so closely with his players. I can only imagine what his halftime speeches were like. I also suspect they were straight forward – “you’re ready,” “you know what it yours to do.” I am sure there were X’s and O’s, but at the heart of it all, he pointed to the road that brought them to this point in time, he reminded them what they had achieved, that they were prepared, and to now it was time to answer the call. “You are ready!” Continue reading

Crucifying the King: Context

English: Stained glass window at the Melkite C...

Luke 23:35-43. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. 34 (Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”) They divided his garments by casting lots. [The above is not part of the Sunday reading, but is generally considered within the narrative.] 35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Context. Here on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time the Church celebrates Christ the King Sunday. The title is given several places in Scripture:  king of ages (1 Timothy 1:17), King of Israel (John 1:49), King of the Jews (Mt. 27:11), King of kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev. 19:16), King of the nations (Book of Revelation 15:3) and ruler of the kings of the Earth (Rev. 1:5). The solemnity has been celebrated on the Roman calendar since 1925 and was instituted as a culmination of the liturgical year and a reminder that in His suffering and death, Christ ascended to his throne. Continue reading