Day 319: Come, follow me

Luke 17:1-10 Christ warned against the grave sin of causing scandal-the act of leading another to sin or error, whether directly or indirectly, through one’s instruction, encouragement, or example. He stressed the need to forgive at all times and affirmed the power of faith. Lastly, he emphasized that serving both God and neighbor is what is typically expected from a disciple of Christ. (CCC 2284-2287)

Ch 17:2 Millstone: A rather large and heavy stone used to grind flour and grains. The metaphor used here for the punishment of those who cause scandal reflects the seriousness of this sin.

Ch 17:4 Seven times: Not a strict limit, as if the eighth offense in a day is unforgivable; rather, it indicates mercy that knows no limit. (CCC 2227, 2845)

Ch 17:5 Increase our faith: Faith is a free gift from God. We must nourish it by meditating on the Word of God with the purpose of putting it into practice and through the reception of the Sacraments. Our faith grows when our prayers and actions are driven by charity, and our faith is alive when inspired by the love of God and neighbor. (CCC 162)

Ch 17:11-19 Those who suffered from leprosy were outcasts in first-century Jewish society. Ritually unclean and believed to be carriers of a contagious disease, they were required to live apart from society and to warn others of their condition should anyone approach. The expression of gratitude expressed by the Samaritan in the face of God’s blessing demonstrates both holiness and humility.

Ch 17:20-21 The Kingdom of God is not something that can be quantified with empirical facts and data but rather consists in the intimate communion of Christ and his disciples. The expansion of the kingdom is the fruit of an overflowing love of God. Therefore, it has been the saints who have contributed most to the work of evangelization. (CCC 2816)

Ch 17:23-37 The words of Christ here are applicable to the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem but also to the end of the world. His Second Coming will be seen by all, so we must be on guard against those who claim to have received signs and revelations of the end of the world. Since Christ’s return is certain, we must always be vigilant and faithful so as not to be caught unaware. (CCC 675)

Ch 17:33 These words reflect Christ’s own Death and Resurrection, which give life to the world. True charity inspires one to live in a spirit of selfless self-giving, even to the extent of offering one’s life for others as Christ did. (CCC 1889)

Ch 17:35 Other Ancient Authorities add verse 36: “Two men will be left in the field; one will be taken and the other left.”

Ch 18:1-8 This parable teaches the value of perseverance in prayer and of not losing heart in our petitions. The judge in this parable is neither a man of faith nor particularly kind but grants the widow her request simply to put an end to her unrelenting requests. As God who loves us, therefore, will be even more generous if we remain faithful disciples. Nevertheless, the Lord likens himself to the godless judge in the sense that he expects incessant and persistent prayer. The greater our faith, the more effective our prayers become; this is partly because we have a closer relationship with God but most of all because, in the course of growing in communion with God, we become more closely aligned with his will. The Church fulfills the Lord’s precept to “pray always” in the Liturgy of the Hours, whose purpose is to sanctify the entire day and all human activity. (CCC 2098, 2573, 2613, 2710)

Ch 18:3 Widow: A woman whose husband had died had little means at her disposal and was dependent either on family or on the generosity of others for her basic needs. Thus, widows were among the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. (CCC 922, 1351, 2208)

Ch 18:8 This verse implies that the Church will go through a period of intense trial that will test the faith of many of her believers before Christ returns. (CCC 675)

Ch 18:9-14 True and effective prayer demands a humble disposition. The Pharisee in this parable offered thanks to God for his own qualities and successes but arrogantly contrasted his virtues against the sins and shortcomings of the publican. He thus measured his own goodness by a checklist of external acts performed. His smugness in the Temple is not so much a true thanksgiving to God as it is praise for himself; there is no indication that he sensed a need for contrition and repentance. The tax collector, knowing well his imperfections before God, sought only mercy without any sense of entitlement. This cautionary parable against self-exaltation recalls the lesson on humility Christ gave at the Pharisee’s banquet (cf. Lk 14:7-11). (CCC 588, 2559, 2613)

Ch 18:13 The prayer of the tax collector for mercy is also the prayer of the Church, reflected in the Kyrie at the Mass: “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” An appeal to God’s mercy should be implicitly present in all our prayers of petition. A humble and contrite heart fosters a great reliance on God and ultimately leads to holiness. One of the great forms of the tax collector’s petition is the traditional Eastern formula called the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (CCC 2613, 2631, 2667, 2839)

Ch 18:15-17 Christ had a special affection for children and often used their innocence and trust as an example for his disciples. The redemption has made us children of God and, as a consequence, we are encouraged to have a constant trust in God our Father. St. Ambrose wrote that this childlike virtue “does not lie in ignorance of evil, but in its rejection; it does not consist in not being able to sin, but rather in not consenting to sin. Therefore, the Lord is not referring to childhood as such, but to the innocence which children have in their simplicity” (Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, ad loc.) (CCC 405)

Ch 18:18-30 The rich young man went away sad since attachment to wealth is incompatible with the joy of following Christ. Although material possessions are not bad in themselves, an unhealthy attachment to them robs the human heart of the freedom to love and follow Christ. Those who do forsake everything for the Kingdom of God will be greatly rewarded with joy in this life and eternal happiness in the next. (CCC 2052, 2556)

Ch 18:20-22 The Ten Commandments remain normative for all who follow Christ, who came not to destroy the Old Law but to fulfill and perfect it. The New Law of grace and charity will build upon the foundations of the Old Law. (CCC 2053, 2419)

Ch 18:35-43 The blind man bore all the necessary requisites for prayer frilled with faith and, thus, is a model for effective prayer. He exhibited humility to appeal to Christ’s mercy and persevered in his petition in spite of being urged to keep silent. Ultimately, it was his faith that healed him. (CCC 2616)

Ch 19:1-10 The account of Zacchaeus serves as a real-life example of what Christ taught in his parables about repentance. Like most tax collectors of his day, Zacchaeus was reviled by his fellow Jews for cheating them of their money and collaborating with the Romans. Yet, when Christ sought him, even from a distance, he responded with a desire for repentance and conversion. Christ’s mission is to those who have strayed from the flock rather than those who remain but feel no need to repent. (CCC 1443)

Ch 19:8-10 Zacchaeus pledged to detach himself from his riches and to compensate amply those whom he had cheated, essentially providing reparation for injustice and satisfaction for his sins. He welcomed the love of Christ and desired to respond to it in a still greater way. His repentance was thus complete, and he was restored to the grace of God. 

Fourfold: Under the law, the maximum sentence was to pay back in restitution four times the amount that was stolen. Sacramental forgiveness and social justice still requires restitution for what has been lost or stolen whenever possible.

Son of Abraham: This term is not just to state that Zacchaeus was included among the Chosen People but that his repentance and purpose of amendment were modeled after Abraham’s example of faith. (CCC 549, 2412, 2712)

Ch 19:11-27 The Parable of the Pounds emphasizes that the Kingdom of God, being spiritual, dwells in the human heart. Its foundation and expansion rests on generosity and the faith-filled response to his gratuitous infusion of grace received at Baptism. This grace is intended to grow through deeds of charity, and, as it grows, the love of Christ flows into the hearts of others. Although God-given gifts and opportunities are not distributed equally among all people, each of us is required to use and develop our talents and opportunities well in the service of God and neighbor. Ultimately, the Lord will ask us for an accounting of our deeds and our growth in holiness initiated by our baptismal grace. (CCC 1879-1880, 1936-1938, 2402)

Ch 19:13 Pounds: A pound, or mina, was equal to about four months of a laborer’s wages. 

Ch 19:28-40 Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as “the King who comes in the name of the Lord” stands in stark contrast to the events that would transpire on Good Friday.

Blessed is the King...highest: These words of praise from those greeting Christ are preserved today in the Sanctus of the Mass. (CCC 559)

Ch 19:41-44 Christ wept over Jerusalem’s failure to respond to the spectacular grace of having the Messiah present with them. He foresaw the city’s destruction by the Romans, which would take place less than a generation later, AD 70. (CCC 558, 585)

Ch 19:45-48 The Synoptic accounts of Christ’s casting out the people doing business in the Temple are very similar, but Luke includes the enemies of Christ resolved to “destroy him.” The money-changers in the Temple courtyard provided a necessary service-selling doves and lambs to pilgrims for ritual sacrifices. However, they used the Temple sanctuary for their trade, taking unfair advantage of the religious pilgrims. Christ reacted with righteous anger because of their failure to respect the sacredness of his Father’s house. (CCC 584, 2691-2693)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Act 3: Jesus’ Passion and Death 

Palm Sunday 

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you so much. We give you honor and glory. And we just praise you for your Son, Jesus, and the revelation of the Gospel of Luke. Oh my goodness, Lord, thank you so much for Luke taking the time, taking all the effort. I can’t even imagine, Lord, the effort that Luke put into writing these words, to be able to give us a picture of Jesus. Jesus in his teaching. Jesus in his righteous anger against the Scribes and Pharisees and those who bought and sold in the Temple. His righteous love in calling people like Zacchaeus, people like the rich young man, people like us. So thank you, Father. Thank you for loving us. And thank you for Luke. And above all, Lord, thank you for your Son and for your Spirit, which are your gifts to us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”