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Christ the guest but not for one day

A passage about Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) often brings displeasure and a frown to the faces of the hardworking people. Some cite it to demonstrate the superiority of the contemplative over active life.

It says that the sisters and the monks—who in the peace of their cloisters spend their lives reciting prayers—have chosen the better part.

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To inherit life

Today’s gospel reading begins with two questions from Jesus: What shall I do to inherit eternal life? What is written in the law?

The rabbi promptly appeals to two biblical texts. The first is well known, because every pious Israelite recited it at morning and evening prayer: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

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I come to offer peace

The gospel recounts how Jesus sent messengers in pairs. The first miss-ionaries—Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas did not only go two by two, but they were also sent and  represented their community.

They are sent like lambs among wolves. The wolf is a symbol of violence, arrogance. The lamb indicates gentility, weakness and frailty.

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Nothing should stop us following Christ

In the gospel today, Jesus resolutely journeys to Jerusalem where crucifixion and death await him. He, like the suffering servant of Yahweh, takes on the pain, for he knows, that is the way the love of the Father is to be manifested.  

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The difficult task of liberators

In Jesus’ time the waiting for the saviour was acute, eager and even feverish. The Messiah will be—everybody thought—a hero, or a warrior king. Keeping this in the back of our minds let us read the gospel today.

Jesus first asks: What do people say about me? The disciples are a bit surprised when confronted with a question like this, because he never gave the impression of being interested in what was being said about him. 

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Perfect and righteous but incapable of loving

Jesus enters the homes of all. To him all people are pure. Today, we find him in the house of a Pharisee, therefore, in a morally elevated ambient. 

Why is he invited? Probably because the Pharisees consider him a just and wise teacher. They wish to converse with him on topics of high theology.

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The banquet of the word and the bread

Luke takes an episode from the life of Jesus—the multiplication of the loaves—and rereads it in view of the Eucharist. 

The deserted place (v.12) has a theological significance: remember the journey of the people of Israel who, having left the land of slavery, started their journey to freedom and were fed with manna. 

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The Spirit carrying out God’s project

The first reading narrates the project of the Father in creation. In the second reading it is explained that this project is carried out by the Son, but we do not yet know that the path to salvation will be not only strange, but even absurd. That is why the Spirit’s work is necessary. Only he can lead us to adhere to the project of the Father and the work of the Son.

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The Spirit— hope of a new world

We are at the Last Supper and Jesus promises not to leave the disciples alone, without protection and without guidance. 

He will pray to the Father, and he “will send another Paraclete” that will remain with them forever (v.16). It is the promise of the gift of that Spirit that Jesus possessed
in fullness (Luke 4:1,14,18) and that will be poured out on the disciples.

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The reasons for hope and joy

Luke’s Gospel ends with the story of the Ascension (vv. 50-53). Before entering the glory of the Father, Jesus blesses the disciples (v.51). 

At the end of the liturgical celebrations in the temple, the priest came out of the holy place and pronounced a solemn blessing on the faithful gathered for prayer (Sirach 50:20). After the blessing they returned to their jobs, confident that the Lord would bring to fruition all their efforts and all their hard work.