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A judgment that saves

The language used in the gospel passage today can lead to extravagant interpretations (or even rants) on the end of the world and the punishment of God. It can also be reduced to the invitation to be always ready, because death can take us unprepared.

These interpretations stem from a lack of understanding of the apocalyptic literary genre that was widely used at the time of Jesus, but that is alien to our mentality and culture.

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Christ the King - A cross for a throne

The Israelites were expecting a great, rich, strong and eternal king, who would decimate the enemies of Israel. Our gospel reading for today presents a response to these expectations.

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Have courage and lift up your head!

Luke wrote his gospel around the year 85AD. In the fifty years that had passed since the death and resurrection of Jesus, tremendous events occurred. There were wars, political revolutions, catastrophes and the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed.

Christians became victims of injustices and persecutions. How to explain these dramatic events?

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We live only one eternal life

The first reading speaks of seven brothers. They had an imperfect concept of the resurrection. They imagined it as an extension of the life of this world, nothing more. 

The Pharisees, who firmly professed faith in the resurrection of the dead, continued to interpret it in a rather crude way.

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Scrutinised by people admired by God

Zacheus had everything in life and yet is deeply dissatisfied. He has participated in many banquets and is still looking for food that satisfies.

The need he experiences is so compelling, so irresistible that to satisfy it he is willing to challenge the taunts of the crowd that did not sympathise with him.

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God doesn’t look at merit certificates

The parable in today’s gospel is directed at Christians of all times. The idea of gaining merit before God is profoundly rooted in our thought patterns. 

From the outset, we dislike the hypocritical, disagreeable, proud and presumptuous Pharisee. Our sympathies are all with the publican who, poor guy, did something wrong, but has a heart of gold. 

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From healing to faith

We can run the risk of reducing the message of today’s gospel to a lesson of good manners, to remember to say thank you to those who help us. 

The 10 lepers of the gospel represent all the people, the entire humanity far away from God. All of us—Luke wants to tell us—are lepers and need to encounter Jesus. No one is pure; we all carry on our skin the sign of death that only the word of Christ can cure.

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Can we continue to live in a religion of merits?

Can faith grow? If faith is reduced to the assent given to a list of truths, it cannot grow. But, if faith is growing in an unconditional trust in the Lord, then, it is easy to realise that it can grow or diminish.

We believe in Jesus, but we do not trust him totally. We don’t have the courage to untie ourselves from certain habits, to make certain renouncements. Here we have a faith that needs to strengthen itself.

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Inequality of wealth is not God’s plan

In ancient Israel, it was not possible to enrich yourself at the expense of the others because, at the coming of the jubilee year, in fact, all must be returned to the legitimate owners (Leviticus 25). 

Those who are not afraid of the punishment of God had already begun to add house to house and join field to field (Isaiah 5:8).

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A lost person is God’s defeat

Two parables of mercy will be offered to us in this Sunday’s gospel, that of the lost sheep and the lost coin.

The parables are addressed to the Scribes and Pharisees rather than the tax collectors and sinners who were seeking Jesus eagerly to hear what he had to say.

They frowned at this, muttering, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”