Tues Quote - N.T. Wright - “The longer you look at Jesus, the more you will want to serve him in his world. That is, of course, if it’s the real Jesus you’re looking at. Plenty of people in the church and outside it have made up a ‘Jesus’ for themselves, and have found that this invented character makes few real demands on them. He makes them feel happy from time to time, but doesn’t challenge them, doesn’t suggest they get up and do something about the plight of the world. Which is, of course, what the real Jesus had an uncomfortable habit of doing.”
Yesterday we began our prayerful interaction with Sunday's gospel by pondering the trustworthiness of Jesus. For Luke, Jesus proves himself trustworthy because he is attentive to the invisible. Luke begin this theme by drawing our attention to Mary, a teenage girl from a small town. She is not the member of a family with any power or influence. She would otherwise be lost to history were it not for the fact that she is chosen by God to nurture God incarnate, the Messiah, Jesus. Perhaps you remember that when Mary sings in celebration of this news, she says that God has ' has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.' But the greek that is translated 'humble' means humiliated and shamed And one could safely say that for the rest of his gospel, Luke shows us a Jesus who is particularly attentive to the humiliated.
In Sunday's story Jesus attends to the needs of a slave boy. As the gospel goes on we read the story of Jesus pausing to find and speak to a woman who had been hemorrhaging for many long years. In her case Luke tells us that the doctors (medical authorities) could not help her, they only threw her more deeply into poverty. These were not the kind of people that political leaders, religious leaders, the powerful or influential took time for. But here is Jesus, interrupting his own plans to seek out the invisible and listen to the unheard. Of course we find these stories encouraging and inspiring. And while Luke begins by telling us the comforting stories of Jesus's attentiveness to the invisible, he doesn't stop there.
Luke will tell us the story of the good Samaritan, a story that is so ubiquitous its challenge is lost to many. Samaritans were not so much invisible as presented as the monstrous enemy. By telling a story in which a Samaritan is the hero, Jesus challenges the way his own people see and then present Samaritans. And this is unsettling. For it challenges us to ask, who is unfairly cast as the enemy, the threat, the monster, in our culture? I could go on with a lengthy survey of the gospel of Luke, but instead I will just make note of one more story briefly. In Luke 16 we find a parable told by Jesus about a homeless, impoverished man named Lazarus and the wealthy man. Lazarus often sleeps outside the wealthy man's estate waiting for garbage scraps to eat. In the parable both men die, with Lazarus going to heaven and the wealthy man, well, not going to heaven. We know of no other fault in the wealthy man's life to cause his eternal suffering except for the fact that Lazarus, in his suffering, remained invisible to the wealthy man. It was his benign ignorance, his privilege, that was held against him.
In all of these stories, Jesus either sees those made invisible or cast as the threat, or Jesus challenges any who would listen to see the invisible, the threat, as they really are, which is another one of God's beloved. This is the authority of Jesus. To create healthy, wholesome community by undoing the bias and bigotry that divides and by attending to those ignored and unheard. This is why we can trust his authority. Because the vulnerable are the cornerstone of this wholesome community.
Tues Study - Luke 16:14-31; Luke 19:1-10
Tues Prayer - Remind me this morning Lord that I am one of the lost sheep that you have searched for and carried home. Let this image stay with me throughout my day to give me hope when I feel alone or abandoned. But also let this image challenge me to join you in the search for the lost and least. Open my ears to listen to those I usually ignore. Open my eyes to see a perspective different from my own. Open my heart to see your image in someone I may have previously only seen as other or enemy. In seeing, listening and loving others as you have me, make me a channel of your peace in my own part of the world.