The Final Sanction

This Sunday’s gospel reading, Luke 16:19-31, is the great climax to this writer’s sustained argument against disparities of riches and wealth in the church, in Israel and in the world in general. Put simply, the Kingdom of God that Jesus announces involves a return to the vision of economic justice embodied in the Law of Moses. God’s people are always called to model his unchanging intention for the human race, that we should live as ane great family, sharing the earth’s resources justly and responding with compassion to human need, especially when it is close at hand.
In this famous story, a rich man and his family harden their hearts against a poor begger right on their doorstep, day after day… and suffer eternal consequences. Case closed. Direct all appeals to the court of Moses. Pharissees take note.
You can hear my comments on the text here….
Howard Pilgrim

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“You cannot serve God and wealth”

Jesus’ clear statement ending this Sunday’s gospel reading may seem confusing, given the story he has just told about the shonky dealings of a dishonest estate manager. If so, it is probably because we misunderstand the story in its ancient setting. The manager in this story is commended by his master, and implicitly by Jesus, for acting wisely. He puts relationships above capital accumulation, showing a clear understanding of his master’s values (and the whole point of being rich) and crafting a clever solution that was win-win for all involved. A worthy example of wise dealing, says Jesus, even for won followers who have a different set of values!
Confused? You can listen to my exposition of the passage here….
Howard Pilgrim

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A sign of God’s grace?

What sort of faith community are we, really? This is Luke’s probing question for us in next Sunday’s gospel reading. Do we actively seek out and welcome those around us who are being touched by the Spirit? Can outsiders look at us and see hopeful signs of a new human family in which diversity is celebrated, in which mistakes can be put right, in which a safety-first approach to community life is not dominant? Hmmmm….
You can listen to my comments here…

Howard Pilgrim

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You wannabe a disciple?

Jesus was quite popular at times. “Large crowds” followed him around Galilee, according to Luke. Jesus was not looking for popularity as such, but for a dedicated band of disciples committed to extending his mission into the wider world. To avoid wasting time trying to train uncommitted hangers-on, Jesus challenged all his followers to take a realistic assesment of what it might cost them to become agents of the Kingdom of God. Reading this Sunday’s gospel passage from Luke 14, you might well wonder how any of them stuck with him at all. Well actually, it was a miracle in itself, and still is. Only God can turn ordinary people into disciples, and most of us are reluctant responders to His call. How has the church survived so long???? It certainly won’t continue much longer unless miracles of disciple-making happen again, and again, and again.
You can listen to my comments here….
Howard Pilgrim

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God’s Honour

What a difference there is between God’s values and those that dominate most of our human social systems! People we hold in high esteem are often dispicable in God’s eyes, and those we overlook may be the most honoured in eternity. Well, that is what Luke wants us to realize, and he repeats his point over and over in his gospel. Our reading this Sunday is especially telling, as Jesus confronts the social values of his host and fellow dinner guests. The message is for us as well as them.
You can listen to my comments here….

Howard Pilgrim

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Safety or Joy?

In this Sunday’s gospel reading, from Luke 13, Jesus makes a point of healing a woman whose chronic illness has become an accepted part of her faith community’s life. No one feels her pain anymore, no-one expects God to improve her lot. Jesus chooses to challenge this status-quo thinking on the sabbath, a day devoted to celebrating God’s liberating presence in Israel’s history. Like us in our churches, they were more comfortable with celebrating the past than opening themselves up to God’s action in the present. They had opted for safety rather than joy.
You can listen to my comments here…..
Howard Pilgrim

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Carrot and Stick

The gospel reading for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, from Luke 12, has two distinct elements. The first is an extraordinary encouragement given to Jesus’ disciples to invest their lives and resources in the mission of proclaiming and embodying God’s reign on earth. Jesus gives them a paradoxical image of God as a bridgegroom who returns from his wedding banquet to serve his slaves: a remarkable reversal of our normal expectations of how a life of privilege and power is lived out. The self-giving God, who calls his disciples to pass on the generosity that sustains us to others. This is followed by a warning about accountability: the more we have received from God, the more responsibiilty we carry for what we do with it.
You can listen to my comments on the text here…
Howard Pilgrim

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Rich and Foolish?

In the gospel reading for this coming Sunday, the 18th in Ordinary Time, Luke gives us Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool. It raises several probing questins for us all. What does it mean to be “rich toward God”? Why was God so ticked off with this guy who thought he had just got lucky? How did everyone else in his community feel about him? Is our accountability to God connected with our attitude to our neighbours, and especially to those who work for us?
For all this and much much more, listen to my comments here!
Howard Pilgrim

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Praying with Jesus

“Lord, teach us to pray” his disciples asked after seeing Jesus’ prayer life in action. To be effective in the mission he was sending them on would require them to be able to enter the prayerful, spiritual dimension that empowered his own ministry.
Two millenia later the same principle still applies. You can listen to my comments on Luke 11:1-13 here….
Howard Pilgrim

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A Training Day with Jesus

When we read Luke’s Martha-and-Mary story on its own terms, we may be surprised at how much it has to tell us about how we carry out the mission to which he calls us… especially about the way in which tasks we take on gladly may become drudgery if we forget why we began them in the first place.
You can listen to my comments here…
Howard Pilgrim

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