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

Blindness

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

A final thought

This coming Sunday is the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time in which we are reading the second part of the “Sermon on the Plains” that began in Luke 6:17

From David Lose: So after setting out his crazy – at least according to our experience in the world – vision for the Christian life, he does two things. First, he assails the logic of the kingdom of the world. How can we honor things we do out of our own self interest? Doing good to those who do good to us, loving those who love us, may be the norm, but it is essentially self-centered and nothing to be admired or emulated. And following in that pattern won’t move us beyond the violence-saturated and scarcity-driven history of the world. We have to find a new way forward.

Second, he offers the only motivation strong enough to withstand the pull of the culture to look out first and foremost for our own interests and invite us to take that new path. He point us, that is, to the very nature of God – the one who is merciful and loving even to those who don’t deserve it.

And that includes us.

The only thing that invites love that transcends self-interest, you see, is being loved. And the one thing that prompts mercy that is not self-serving is receiving mercy. So Jesus directs our attention to God, the one who abounds in compassion, mercy, love, and forgiveness.

And because that’s so hard for us to believe, Jesus ultimately won’t just talk about that love, he’ll show it, spreading his arms wide upon the cross to offer God’s loving embrace to each and all of us.

Love and Doing Good

This coming Sunday is the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time in which we are reading the second part of the “Sermon on the Plains” that began in Luke 6:17. In v.35 ff Jesus repeats the triplet of love, doing good, and lending/giving as challenges the listener to exercise all three actions freely, without obligation, and without the expectation of return. He is advocating an inversion of the social norms in order to establish a new people, a new family of different ethic and calling. What is the motivation? “…expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High” Note that this is still “something given in return” but not from the act of one’s beneficial act or the gratitude of the recipient, rather, it is God who rewards them. In a new way, God becomes the great benefactor and protector, but not in a contractual manner – but in a covenantal way. It is not an exchange of goods or services or favor, but a giving of oneself wholly to the other even as the other gives one wholly to you. Continue reading

A New Moral Compass

This coming Sunday is the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time in which we are reading the second part of the “Sermon on the Plains” that began in Luke 6:17.  In yesterday’s post we laid out the construct of Hellenistic ethics and Jewish Wisdom traditions. Neither seem to describe Jesus’ instructions. If the Hellenistic “golden rule” and the Jewish wisdom of Sirach do not seem to describe Jesus’ message, it only points out how radical the message was in its day. Continue reading