Wisdom teaches us that there are a variety of lifestyles we can take as we worship God. Not everyone can be an ascetic, not everyone a priest, etc. We must be open to God’s will in our lives. We need to heed God’s call and His will for our lives.
We have the story of the raising of the son of the widow from Nain. Realizing the plight of a sonless widow in that society, Jesus also restores life to a desperate widow. Luke also notes the reaction of the crowd. They break out in praise of God because a great prophet has arisen among them and God has looked with favor on His people. Often, when terrible things happen, like today’s gospel story or the recent hurricane, we sense the absence of God. By restoring the son to his mother, Jesus restores belief in the presence of God. Compassionate believers must communicate the presence of God in the world like those volunteers are doing to assist the victims of the storm.
Living a life of stewardship should be an everyday goal of everyone in the parish. And, it starts with prayer which takes us into God’s presence and prepares us to obey Him. Prayer softens our hearts and changes us so we desire to give more of our time and talents to others in our lives and parish. As we become more like Christ, we want to give back to the Church and to God as a “thank You” for the richness in blessings that we have received. “A spiritual life without prayer is like the Gospel without Christ.” (Henri Nowen)
We have 3 sets of ideal norms followed by the motivation for them. The first set deals with love of enemies, nonretaliation, and generosity without recompense. The motivation:”Do to others…”, the Golden Rule. The second set deals with loving, doing good, and lending. The motivation: “Be compassionate as the Father is compassionate.” The third set deals with not judging/not condemning, forgiving, and giving in good measure. The motivation:”the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” These are ideal Christian values. They are quite a bit to soak in. Maybe, we should reflect today, and every day, on how well we adhere to these Christian ideals?
Today we hear the beginning of the “Sermon on the Plain,” comparable to “The Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew. We hear three Beatitudes regarding the poor, the hungry, and the sorrowing. The fourth Beatitude reflects the hostility of Jesus’ enemies toward the end of His ministry. Then, we hear 4 “woes.” The woes are a strong appeal to the rich to meet the needs of the poor and weak. This section of the sermon is a call to service to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus choose 12 special disciples that He calls “apostles” or special ambassadors. In other words, these 12 are the foundation of a “New Israel” just as the 12 tribes were in OT. Notice, Luke tells us that Jesus spent the night in prayer before He selected His 12. Thus, we have to recognize prayer as indispensable in our lives and ministry, as well.
Another curing on the Sabbath controversy, this time a man with a withered hand. Is it proper to do an act of kindness, healing on a Sabbath or not? Jesus always sides with doing good even if it technically violates the law. “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”