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This Sunday's Programme

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13th Sunday C

Sunday 26th June 2022

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Lk 9: 51-62

When the time came for the complete fulfilment of his life, when he would be taken up in and through death, he turned and resolutely faced Jerusalem. He sent his disciples on ahead of him, and they went into a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for him. But they refused to have anything to do with him as he was heading towards Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they reacted, ‘Master, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy these people, just like Elijah did?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he moved on to another village.

And it happened as they were going along, that a man came up and said, ‘I will follow you, Master, wherever you happen to go!’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Foxes have burrows and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another, he gave the call, ‘Follow me!’ But the man said, ‘Master, allow me to go and care for my father till his death!’ But Jesus said, ‘Let the dead bury the dead. You are called to preach the Kingdom of God.’ And another said, ‘I will follow you but first let me go and take leave of those at home.’ But Jesus said, ‘No one ploughs by looking backwards. So one who looks back to what they have left is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 15: 1-2, 5, 5-11

Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you.
My soul, you have affirmed the Lord, “You are my God,”
God is my inheritance and my fulfilment.
The one who upholds me.

I will bless the Lord who counsels me.
Indeed, even at night, he instructs my spirit.
I have the Lord ever before my eyes,
because he is at my right hand, I am secure.

Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices,
my flesh relaxes, trustful in hope.
You will not leave me stranded among the dead,
nor will you allow your holy one to know corruption,

You will show me the path of life,
in your presence is the fullness of joy,
at your right hand, pleasures for evermore.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, you have called us to follow your Son, Jesus. Give us the wisdom of your Spirit to hear and heed his call when it comes in the midst of the many differing demands of our daily lives. May the response of our care to those around us truly witness to the primacy of your Kingdom and your love in our lives.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

The dynamics of Luke’s Gospel change with this reading. The opening sentence is like an airline pilot’s announcement that we have begun the descent of our journey. Jesus has set his face towards Jerusalem.

Prophetic imagery dominates the passage, with the opening phrase being convoluted and difficult to translate. The term ‘fulfilment’ refers not just to Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection but includes his ascension and glorification with God. The term for ‘being taken up’ was used of the prophet Elijah as he disappeared in the whirlwind (2 Kgs 2:1). ‘Setting his face’ draws on two different prophetic experiences. One the one hand, Ezekiel ‘set his face’ when he was prophesying against Israel, while, on the other hand, Isaiah ‘set his face like flint’ against insult.

In a very real sense, the elements of this opening sentence are played out in the vignettes that follow. Jesus rejects the reaction of the James and John to the inhospitality of the Samaritans. They want him to act like Elijah and destroy these people. Jesus rather acts with calm in the face of the insult.

When three people, in differing circumstances, offer to follow Jesus, he makes clear the absolute commitment required of a follower of his. There will be no security of abode. Indeed, the social commitments so integral to Jewish life, care of one’s parents and family, are superseded by the demands of the Kingdom. In a very real sense, each and every follower of Jesus is now a ‘prophet’, living by and witnessing to realities that are not immediately obvious and which will only come to true fulfilment in glory with God.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

At the end of the day on which James and John had wanted to call down fire on the Samaritan village that had refused Jesus hospitality, it would have been interesting to listen to what the disciples had to say about their behaviour. Having been welcomed in another village, fed and snug in bed, would they have looked back and wondered why they acted so testily and aggressively? Would James and John have admitted that their overkill was overkill? Earlier they had overreacted when the man outside their circle was casting our demons in Jesus’ name. Then, as well, Jesus rebuked them.

What we see, here, in the disciples is an attitude seen all too often in religiously minded people: a sense of superiority, which when challenged, leads to anger and even violence. It is this attitude that people like Christopher Hitchens and the militant atheists see as integral to religion and is the grounds for their trenchant criticism. How surprised they might be if they realised that, in this area, Jesus is on their side. Jesus truly saw this as a real issue as he had to continue to rebuke his disciples.

Religion can be dangerous. It can make us good, holy and gentle but it can also make us proud, prickly and angry. How we react to insults is a good sign of the state of our religion. If, like the disciples, we act with aggression, we must seriously question the state of our faith. But if we can act with gentleness, kindness and even with a degree of equanimity in the face of insult and rejection, we can be sure that we are true followers of the humble Jesus who went so gently to his cross.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

At the beginning of this Gospel, there is a little phrase that could easily be missed in the rest of the passage. It is ‘to heaven’. This is one way of translating a difficult phrase, ‘fulfilment’ that not only refers to Jesus’ death and resurrection but includes the culmination of his mission after his ascension in glory. It is in the light of this little phrase that sense is to be made of Jesus’ resolute journey to Jerusalem. His final goal gives meaning to all that comes before.

As it should for the three people who would be his disciples. The first man who offers to follow Jesus sounds as though he is keen for the adventure. Discipleship is not that. It can be a journey through bitter homelessness and death to enter into our ultimate home, life in God. The other two would-be disciples are prepared to offer their commitment within the religious and social mores of their communities. These mores placed great emphasis on family commitment. But, for the disciple of Jesus, these are now superseded by the demands of the Kingdom of God.

And for ourselves, our everyday life should be coloured by the view of our final destination. This is not meant to drain our lives of savour or meaning but rather to enhance each moment, each relationship with a grace-filled truth: homes, parents, family come to their deepest meaning when seen as a gift from God, not as things that distract us or turn us away from our service of God.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Art Works

Movies

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on the differing demands that are made upon you and how you chose which ones to follow up on. Ask yourself what are the reasons why you chose one demand over another. Ask yourself how often you ask the Spirit’s guidance before you make those decisions.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

This Sunday’s Gospel shows four inadequate ways of being ‘disciple’: the ones who act with anger at insult, the one who treats it like an adventure, and the two who only accept to follow Jesus if he does not disturb their lives too much.

As you sit quietly, ponder what your discipleship is like. How does Jesus and his demands influence your life? What are your strong areas? What do you think are your weak areas? Ask Jesus where he would want you to grow and follow.

Rest in the love of your God.

Suggestions for the Programme

The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.

DAILY PRAYER

Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Our Father
Prayer

Or

Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
Psalm
Our Father

PRAYER

Staff Prayer
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.

Example
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Reflection
Invitation for share reflections
Our Father
Prayer

Another Example
Hymn
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
Psalm
Our Father
Prayer

  • Here I Am, Lord by Dan Schutte
  • Do not be Afraid by Bernadette Farrell
  • I’ll Say Yes by Kevin Levar
  • Take Christ to the World by Paul Inwood.
  • This is my Will by James Quinn SJ and John Bell.