Jesus asks for our submission, our obedience. We show that submission, that obedience, by following in the footsteps of Jesus, by being like Him, by being a person who lives his life for others, and not for ourselves. This is not easy. We need Jesus’ help to live like He did. It’s hard to live out the Paschal Mystery. Today, let’s pray that God will give us the strength to give to God what belongs to Him: namely everything! In the end, what matters most is to please God.
As we come to an end of a month, we have a Feast for an apostolic person; this time the evangelist Luke. Two books are ascribed to him: the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. We have come to look at them as two volumes and to read them together. The language of the Gospel according to Luke is supposed to be some of the best Greek in the NT. Many would have read it for its literary style. There are many wonderful features including the Nativity Stories, the unique parables such as the Prodigal Son, the importance of women and prayer. Jesus, in fact, prays more in this Gospel than in Mark and Matthew put together. The Acts is often referred to as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that the same Holy Spirit will inspire us to follow Jesus more closely.
Washing before eating was not just for cleanliness but a religious ritual that went something like this: water was first poured over the fingertips and then over the fingers, the hands, and the wrists. Then, the procedure was reversed. Jesus wasn’t against ritual but some people who made ritual more important than doing good acts for others. What kind of balance do you keep between ritual and service to others?
Jesus compares Jonah’s preaching to the people of Nineveh to His preaching to the Jews. But, the people of Nineveh responded while the response was not so good to His preaching. How responsive are we to Jesus’ call to repentance? What steps do we take to keep from falling back into sin?
The parable that Matthew added to the main parable about the wedding feast (the man without the proper wedding garment) may seem confusing. Why did he add this? Probably because he wanted to make the point that there are requirements for the Kingdom of Heaven: the willingness to embrace and live according to the gospel message. His presence in the gospel challenges us to recognize God’s call to us. Do you remember a white garment that was given to you at baptism? Do you know where that garment is? We were told to keep it white (sinless). It was a call to live each day as Jesus tells us and shows us how to live. We need to “see Jesus more clearly; love Him more dearly; follow Him more nearly, day by day.”
This excerpt from Joel tells of the judgment that will come upon the nations and the restoration of Zion. A theme that runs throughout the Bible is that after God punishes He restores His people, His wrath can’t go on forever. God is a merciful God whose mercy endures forever.
The Book of Joel is one of the “Scroll of the 12,” or one of the so-called Minor Prophets. This doesn’t mean that Joel and the other 11 are not important (this includes Hosea and Amos, for example), but that the oracles of these 12 prophets can all fit on one scroll. Joel was written about 400 BC and its main theme is the “Day of the Lord.” There had been a devastating plague of locusts and Joel saw this as a metaphor for the “Day of the Lord,” a day of judgment. So, he called the people to repentance. We read from Joel every Ash Wednesday.