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This Sunday's Programme

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32nd Sunday C

Sunday 6th November 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

Luke 20:27-38

Now some Sadducees came to Jesus.  These people denied that there is a resurrection so they asked him this question, ‘Master, Moses told us in the Law that if a man, who had a wife, died without having any children, his brother should marry this woman, and have a child by her, who would then be regarded as the child of the first husband.    Now if there were seven brothers and the first married a woman but he died childless.  Then the second married her and he died childless.  Then the third married her and so it went down through the seven.  They all died, childless.  Then, last of all, the woman died.  In the coming resurrection, whose wife would she be because she had been married to all of them!’

And Jesus answered them, ‘Yes, the children of this world marry and are given in marriage.  But those who are worthy to enter into the next world and experience the resurrection neither marry nor are given in marriage because they do not die anymore.  They are like the angels.  They are children of God and children of the resurrection. The dead are raised and Moses himself reveals this in the passage about the burning bush, when he calls the Lord, “the God of Abraham the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob,” for he is God not of the dead, but of the living;  for all live for him.’

Psalm

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

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 16:1, 5-6, 8, 15

Listen, O God, to the cry of justice,
heed my pleading.
Let your ear listen to my cries
there is no deceit on my tongue.

Steady my ways.
so that I do not waver in my life.
I call you and you hear, O God.
Incline your ear close and listen to me.

Keep me as the apple of your eye.
Hide me in your shadow.
Because of your justice, I will see your face
and, on waking, be filled with the vision of your glory.

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

Ps 16:1, 5-6, 8, 15

Listen, O God, to the cry of justice,
heed my pleading.
Let your ear listen to my cries
there is no deceit on my tongue.

Steady my ways.
so that I do not waver in my life.
I call you and you hear, O God.
Incline your ear close and listen to me.

Keep me as the apple of your eye.
Hide me in your shadow.
Because of your justice, I will see your face
and, on waking, be filled with the vision of your glory.

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

In this Sunday’s reading we have the only explicit mention of the Sadducees in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus had finally arrived in Jerusalem and had been teaching in the temple. There, he was confronted by the chief priests (Lk 20:1) who challenged his right to teach. As the Sadducees were the religious aristocracy from whom the chief priests were drawn, they would have been the ones questioning his authority to teach within the Temple. But now, later in this chapter, they are explicitly said to have confronted Jesus. But not so directly as before: he had too easily bested them. This time they come pretending to want a clarification of the Law. The Sadducees revered the first five books of the bible – the Pentateuch – and drew all their beliefs from those books. Anything taught in the later books, like the Psalms or the prophets that did not align explicitly with this earlier Law they ignored. (Ironically, while they were unable to accept developments in their faith, they were well able to accommodate themselves to their Roman overlords and, in consequence, had become the most powerful political group within Jewish society.) One significant point in which they differed both from Jesus and the Pharisees was a belief in an afterlife.

The point on which they challenge Jesus comes from a Law concerning the carrying on of a man’s name after death. If a married man died childless, it was deemed so important for his name to be remembered that his brother was called upon to marry his widow and to raise up an heir for him. The Sadducees come to Jesus and apply this Law in an almost ridiculous scenario. You can almost hear them cutting in over each other, adding brother on brother to be married, to die childless and leave the wife to be married yet again. They are not using the Law to understand the meaning that God might intend but rather as a weapon with which to defeat and ridicule another person.

Jesus’ response shows exactly the attitude of reverence that is needed to understand the Scripture. From the part of the Scriptures that is central to their faith, he looks at a phrase they would have read so many times, and seeing it with fresh eyes and an open heart, is able to show the truth contained therein. God is a God of the living and if our forefathers in faith are alive to God, then all human beings can be as well.

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

On some of the routes going into greater Sydney, you come to a high point that gives a sweep of the Cumberland Plain and, from there, you can often see your journey’s end within the city as a whole. As you go back down into the maze of roads and hills that is Sydney, the memory of your destination from that height can give you clarity for the journey. This Sunday’s encounter between Jesus and the Sadducees is like one of those high points within the Gospels. While Jesus is leading his disciples, and us, to eternal life in God, this is a very difficult concept for us to comprehend. Most of the time, Jesus teaches us how to live in this world, all the while knowing that he is preparing us for the next world. But now and then, that world to come is put into centre stage.

The Sadducees have come with their question concerning a hypothetical woman who has been married seven times. But Jesus uses this odd question as a way to show us how the very nature of relationship will be transformed in the world to come. In a very real sense, the marriage relationship is a good one to use. For many people, this is the most intense, and indeed most focused, relationship of their lives. And one they dearly wish to go on forever. Jesus certainly does not say, it will not. What he does say, is that our capacity to relate will be transformed. No longer will we be confined by physicality. Rather we will be set free to love as God loves – to love all, deeply and passionately. What we have within the best of our relationships will explode into a joy beyond our present comprehension.

 

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

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 what it means when we say that God is God of the living, not the dead.  How does this enrich your awareness of your loved ones who have died?  Mull on how they are still with you, caring for you in God.

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.

Take time to consider some of the people you have known who have died. Consider their lives now, as they held in the embrace of the living God. Realise that they care for you now more than they ever did while on this earth.

Take time to sit with memories, both for good and for bad, which you had with these people. Allow the love of God’s embrace to heal any hurts that you have had from them. Allow this love to enrich your life even more with the good you had from them.

Rest in the love of your God.