Less clear and more difficult

Today’s daily readings for Mass can be found here. If you would like to read an introductory post for the reading this week, you can find that here.

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”46 And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.47 Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed.48 Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building.49 Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’50 in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world,51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Continue reading

Woe to you!

Today’s daily readings for Mass can be found here. If you would like to read an introductory post to today’s gospel and the gospels for the two days following, you can find that here.

42 Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Continue reading

Every so often

Every so often someone approaches me after I have celebrated a Mass to inform me what I have done wrong in the ritual. It is in those moments that I have great empathy for the physician who resigns themselves to  listen to a patient reveal their self diagnosis based on what they have discovered on WebMD. Given the ubiquity of the internet I suspect every profession has similar moments. On one hand it is good that patients and clients inform and educate themselves; on the other hand there is a reason medical school, internship, residency, and specialty fellowships take a bit more time than an internet search. As a doctor/friend once offered, “There is a reason it is called the ‘Art of Medicine,’ – the human body is beyond complicated in all its possible reactions.” Continue reading

Inside and Out

Today’s daily readings for Mass can be found here. If you would like to read an introductory post to today’s gospel and the gospels for the two days following, you can find that here.

37 After he had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat.38 The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.39 The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.40 You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?41 But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you. Continue reading

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: Continue reading

Being one of the good guys

From this morning’s gospel: “Jesus enjoined them, ‘Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’” (Mark 8:15).  Poor Pharisees; they really get a bad name and reputation. If you asked them, they would describe themselves as one of the good guys. They were born out of a movement of desire among the non-priestly class and the experience of the Babylonian Exile and centuries of foreign rule: “How did this happen to us?” It was a movement that understood the path to holiness as a people, as a nation, was through the individual living holiness in every aspect of their lives. To be fair, St. Francis of Assisi was part of a larger lay-led spirituality movement of the 12th century that emerged in many countries across western Europe as the western world emerged from the dark age. There are many modern biblical scholars that would see many similarities with Jesus and the Pharisaic movement. Continue reading

A year from now

In our gospel story, the tax collector went home justified. Sure, he has been extorting people, shaking them down for the Roman overlords and some profit for himself. Sure, he is considered a traitor and an outcast from Jewish life – someone whose life is “breaking bad.”  But he has reached a moment of conversion, right?  He is about to get right with God; get justified.  Here is the one moment, a moment when all the trappings of life are torn away, he finally sees himself in humble relationship to God: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  And the tax collector went home justified. Continue reading

It ain’t over

Pharisee-n-Tax Collector3In our gospel story, the tax collector went home justified. Sure, he has been extorting people, shaking them down for the Roman overlords and some profit for himself. Sure, he is considered a traitor and an outcast from Jewish life – someone whose life is “breaking bad.”  But he has reached a moment of conversion, right?  He is about to get right with God; get justified.  Here is the one moment, a moment when all the trappings of life are torn away, he finally sees himself in humble relationship to God: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  The tax collector went home justified. Continue reading

Empathy and grace: parables

Pharisee-n-Tax Collector3A Parable of Reversal? I tell you, the latter [tax collector] went home justified. We might object to God forgiving the tax collector. He doesn’t actually confess any sins. He makes no statement of repentance. He doesn’t offer to change his life. He doesn’t make any reparations for his sins (as the tax collector Zacchaeus does). This appears to be very cheap grace. This parable probably should not be understood as an example story, but is it simply a story of reversal, as the final saying indicates. If the Pharisee is viewed as a villain and the tax collector a hero, besides the historical inaccuracies, the parable loses its power. They have only received what they deserved. There is no need for the reversal in this last verse. Continue reading

Empathy and grace: tax collector

Pharisee-n-Tax Collector3The Tax Collector. 13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

Consider what Luke has already recorded about Jesus vis-a-vis “sinners”

  • “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:32)
  • …there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:7)

Continue reading