“If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent” (Luke 16:30).
A visit to “Operation Uplift” in Kansas City, a ministry that takes food, clothing and hygiene items to the homeless in Kansas City, was a quick reminder just how poverty and wealth live side by side in most of our large American cities. Street survivors living under bridges and in other out of the way places beneath the safety net get help without conditions or judgment,
"Who do you say that I am?" (Luke 9:20).
How we answer this questions so central to the gospels will determine everything else. The scene in which Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" is repeated in all three synoptic gospels, and in the fourth gospel, the crucial "I AM" in the question becomes the answer, that Jesus is somehow linked to the divine name revealed to Moses in the burning bush story in the Book of Exodus.
"Herod kept trying to see Jesus" (Luke 9:9),
Today's gospel reading gives us a glimpse of one of the more malevolent actors in the drama of Jesus' life and ministry. Herod Antipas was son of Herod the Great, who ordered the deaths of children in Bethlehem around the time of Jesus' birth. As brutal as his father, Antipas had John the Baptist executed for criticizing his marriage. Deeply paranoid and superstitious, he wondered if Jesus was John risen from the dead.
“Jesus said to Matthew, ‘Follow me,’ and he got up and followed him” (Matt 9:9).
Pope Francis once described the importance to his own conversion of a painting by the Italian artist Carivaggio of Jesus pointing at Matthew in a tavern surrounded by his fellow tax collectors. The scene conveys the power of Jesus looking at someone, seeing what they were but also seeing who they were to become by God’s mercy. The pope chose a Latin phrase describing this merciful look as his papal motto: Miserando atque eligendo (“mercied and chosen”).
"Your mother and your brothers are standing outside" (Luke 8:20).
When Pope Francis visited Korea in 2014, he was writing a page in a long and complicated history of Christian expansion into Asia. Today's commemoration of 19th century Koreans martyrs (canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1984) is a reminder of how European missionary efforts were perceived as foreign intervention. Over 10,000 Korean Christians were killed at the time during stare-sponsored persecution.
"There is nothing secret that will not be made known and come to light" (Luke 6:17).
Much has been made in the current U.S. presidential campaign about transparency. Candidates are expected to disclose tax returns and health records, and any hint of relevant information being withheld raises suspicion. Under the glare of the intense media scrutiny and an insatiable public appetite to know everything, no one can survive politically without appearing to be honest and forthcoming.
“Prepare a full account of your stewardship” (Luke 16:2).
Jesus knew that people worried about money, and so he used the theme of finances and employment in many of his parables. As a financial adviser, he would not last very long in this world, but this was because his message went beyond this world to transcendent truths.
“Accompanying Jesus were the Twelve and some women…” (Luke 8:2).
The New Testament accounts of the growth of the early church are part of an evolving tradition that reveals many other influences. The place of women in the ministry of Jesus or in the emerging institutional church is a case in point. The Gospels contain references to a group of women who traveled with the disciples of Jesus and, even more dramatically, say that women were the principal witnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection when the men disciples had fled in fear.
“From that hour the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:27).
Devotion to Mary has long been integral to Catholic piety. She is seen as the most intimate witness to the mystery of Christ, having conceived and carried him in her womb, given birth to him and nurtured him in his human development. Mary is the preeminent disciple, the model for all of us in how to give our lives over to the same intimate relationship she had with Jesus, conceiving, carrying and giving birth to him in the world by our Christian lives.