At first glance the extract from St Luke’s Gospel set before us today is probably seen by many as rather distressing and difficult. Quite naturally we want our families to be united and we also believe that Jesus wants the same thing for us. And so to hear him saying that he has not come to bring peace on earth but rather division and that from now on families will be divided three against two, two against three, we find quite difficult and contradictory.
The text of the Gospel presented to us today looks like a mish-mash of different sayings by Jesus put together because they are all on the general theme of watchfulness. The Evangelists didn’t go around with notebooks writing down whatever Jesus said. In the case of Luke, he most definitely didn’t go around following Jesus because he wasn’t there at the time. The first we hear of Luke is in Antioch where he became a disciple of Paul.
The fellow in the Gospel today who asks Jesus to arbitrate in his claim for his brother to give him his share of the inheritance sounds a bit like the Prodigal Son in the parable we know so well. Both the man in today’s Gospel and the Prodigal Son seem to want to exercise their independence and to go their own way apart from their families
We have a text from the Gospel of Luke today in which Jesus talks about prayer. First of all, he tells his disciples to address God as Father and gives them the prayer we know today as the Lord’s Prayer. The version of this prayer we are given in Luke is slightly shorter than the one given in Matthew where he includes the additional line ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
We have for our Gospel text the very brief and simple story of Martha and Mary. Martha is busy serving the meal and getting things ready for her important guest while Mary sits at the Lord’s feet listening to him. When Martha complains that Mary is not helping to get the meal ready Jesus tells her that she shouldn’t fret so much and he informs her that Mary has chosen the better part.
Today for our Gospel reading we are given the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells the young man who inquires how he might be justified that he should love God and his neighbour. I don’t know if he was trying to be smart or what but the young man asks, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ This gives Jesus the opportunity to tell the parable about the Good Samaritan.
Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us how Jesus sent the twelve apostles out on a preaching tour to prepare the people for the coming of the Kingdom of God. But only Luke gives us this account of a very similar preaching expedition involving seventy-two disciples.
The number of disciples is, of course, symbolic. Six twelves are seventy-two. If we look in Chapter Ten of the Book of Genesis we see a big list of the descendants of Noah with seventy-two names and it is said that all the tribes of the earth are descended from them.
Today we celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, two of the most crucial saints of the early Church. They each had very different personalities and indeed quite different vocations. And both of them were also rather flawed characters. But as we know from the Old Testament, God has a way of choosing people who are completely unworthy to carry out his plans for the world.
We see from the First Reading today that the Eucharist has roots which go back deep into the Old Testament. Abraham has got himself involved in a war. It seems that a group of kings had ganged up on the King of Sodom and defeated him and in the course of this battle Abraham’s nephew Lot was captured. Abraham therefore takes up arms against these rebel Kings and defeats them and rescues Lot. He then meets up with the King of Sodom to discuss affairs and it is at this point that Melchizedek makes his appearance.
Last Sunday, the feast of Pentecost, we came to the end of that great movement in our liturgy which began on Ash Wednesday. During these three months or so we commemorated and lived through the great mysteries of the culmination of Christ’s ministry—his entry in Jerusalem, the Last Supper, his trial and scourging, his death and resurrection, his ascension into heaven and the birth of the Church.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket