This commentary focuses on the Sunday readings for Year C. It's the source of re-imaging that we turn to every third year, when the readings are based on the Gospel of Luke. A weekly commentary can help us to piece together the bits of a properly imaged new world! At the heart of this project is the assumption that the world we take for granted - in almost every sphere of our lives - is an imaginative construct. If God, world, neighbour relations, and our own selves are part of such a constructed reality, it is possible to enrich our imagery - to have our awareness changed - and to apply our new awareness, to our living-cultural context!
     Our liturgical-faith tradition, provides us with the materials from which we can image a different world. As Walter Brueggeman says, "When we can imagine differently, we can act differently!" Jesus' required His disciples to withdraw regularly from their social and economic preoccupations. Liturgical worship makes the same demand on us, as Jesus' modern disciples. To paraphrase the evangelist when Jesus prayed His Supper Prayer for His disciples that He was leaving, "in the world;" He said, we are, "in the system but we are not of the system"(Jn.17:14-16)! Being faithful means gathering regularly and listening to fresh announcements of God's subversive Word, and experiencing afresh, God's unseen but intimate Presence in the Eucharistic action; and finally being sent back from wherever we have come, with a awareness - so that we can be the agents of transformation of the people whose lives we touch!
     This adventure in liturgy, is parallel to the experience of the disciples who meet the Risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke (Lk.24:13-35). The disciples' hearts, "burned within them," when they heard the strange rabbi explain the scriptures. They recognised Jesus' presence, at "the breaking of bread!" They had to return so they could, "tell Jerusalem" the good news of their meeting the Risen Jesus (Lk.24:33)! We too, are sent to extend a new understanding of God to our world, to our neighbour, and to our own self-life, through our passionate doing the practice of Jesus!
     As we listen to the Sunday scripture readings, a different world begins to emerge. It differs from that to which we are accustomed. The world offered in the Lukan texts, runs contrary to our presumed world - at the very time our presumed world seems to function less and less effectively! We get upset, awed, angry, forlorn and maybe attracted in turn, by this alternative world and its values! We experience more than one world.
     If leaders of Liturgy respect us and give us the room to think for ourselves - not at the expense of accommodating or compromising - these texts will not fit comfortably with our assumed reality. They will reveal dreams that expose vested interests! That kind of leadership invites us to run beyond ourselves - beyond our "old selves!" Then we begin to approach our Christian assembly with a mixture of hope and fear! We allow ourselves to be addressed to see if there are new resources and new possibilities here!!


Luke's Good News:


     Year C of the Sunday reading cycle uses Luke the evangelist's account of the teaching and actions of Jesus of Nazareth. In our modern Christian assembly we create a space to hear the reading of the gospel alongside readings chosen from the Hebrew tradition and from the letters of the early Christian communities.
     These sources provide reference points for our modern Christian practice. In addition the Psalm passages that accompany and link the readings are an important guide to interpreting the mind of the modern assembly and help us to understand the relation of text to worship and practising the good life.
     Although the Sunday readings for Year C do not include among them the reading of Luke 24:13-43 (the road to Emmaus), this illustrates the dynamic of hearing the Gospel afresh today. Luke describes two of Jesus' disciples walking away from Jerusalem after the events of the first Good Friday. The disciples are confused, afraid and shattered in the hopes they had held for their dead leader. The stranger, or rabbi, they share their concerns with, then speaks:
  "You fools! So slow to believe
    all that the prophets have said.
    Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer
    before entering into His glory?"
    Then starting with Moses and going through all
    the prophets, He explained to them the passages
    throughout the scriptures
    that were about Himself.

     As would-be disciples ourselves, who want to understand our present, we have to understand the past. If we want to know the meaning of being a Christian disciples today, we have to reflect on the meaning of being a part of the earlier Moses-movement; of the meaning of being part of the prophets movement in the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah. If Jesus was the one to empower people in the past - "set the Hebrew people free:" (cf Lk.24:21) - and we are confused about that we can now pursue the matter systematically and with more background material. To "set free" means drawing people together and setting them on a new path, reconciling and healing, ushering in a new era of compassion, understanding and justice. We know the words and we have a clearer understanding of what is at stake.
     But it still is not enough. The reflection must turn to action. For would-be disciples the turning point is that rather than continue to talk about liberation they act it out. They invite the stranger to share a meal. Their action changes the rabbi from 'stranger' to 'companion'. The shift is from talking about the truth - to doing the truth; from reflection to action!   It is at this point when the disciples move from words to deeds, that clarity comes:
    Now shile He (Jesus) was with them at table,
    He took the bread and said the blessing;
    then He broke it and handed it to them.
    And their eyes were opened and they recognised Him;
    but He had vanished from their sight.
    They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem . . ,
    They told their story of what had happened on the road
    and how they had recognised Jesus
    at the breaking of bread.

     Jesus vanishes. It is not the biology but the theology of that claim that tells us that once the moment of clarity has been achieved around the table, the action is no longer there around a table. The action is somewhere else. Disciples return from Emmaus to Jerusalem - from the scene of the action, through reflection, to a new kind of action. Now they act in the midst of the fear, anxiety and danger they had left just a few hours earlier. But their action is now backed by a new understanding that can deal with the fear, anxiety and danger
     This account of the first Christian community coping with the absence of Jesus, reveals the dynamic that characterises the methodology of Christian education in faith through the lectionary:

     The process begins all over again as disciples leave Jerusalem to go, "to all nations"(Lk.24:47) and have new shattering experiences. So too when new shattering experiences strike fear and confusion into the modern Christian community. The community returns to those bits of Jesus' teaching, held in the community's memory. That memory helps to bring new understandings to the action required - action focused around the sharing of the Word and Eucharist.


a modern reading:


     While the final section of Luke characterises the general dynamic by which modern listeners to the Gospel can adopt the same process - there are qualities in the gospel itself that speak directly about discipleship in the modern world. There is a powerful image of, "exile and home-coming," suggested by Jesus' search for His Father's house. The link between Jesus and the temple in Jerusalem, provides the focus for Jesus' journey from Galilee to Jerusalem - and from Jerusalem to the rest of the world (cf Luke's Acts of the Apostles).
     There is also a fierce denunciation of riches in Luke. Much of Luke's account focuses on a disciple's use of and attitude towards wealth. This may indicate the community for which Luke wrote, had a problem with property and goods. But the result is - today we have a body of teaching by Jesus, about attitudes and values for insecure, yet affluent, disciples.
     A modern 'reading' of Luke becomes the way for a new generation of disciples to begin to follow Jesus' practice. In the words of the final instruction of the Risen Lord in Luke's account:
  "This is what I meant when I said,
    while I was still with you
    that everything written about Me
    in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets
    and in the Psalms
    was destined to be fulfilled."
    He then opened their minds
    to understand the scriptures
    and He said to them,
  "So it is written that the Christ
    would suffer and on the third day
    rise from the dead and that in His name,
    repentence for the forgiveness of sins
    would be preached to all the nations,
    beginning from Jerusalem.
    You are witnesses to this."

     Jesus of Nazareth's 'resurrection' makes no sense - except in relation to all the rest of His story. To affirm the resurrection of the dead, Jesus re-opened the scriptures that had been closed by the priestly class. He read His own story as a continuation of the movement of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah. For Jesus, it was the same power of God at work in each of these people. For Jesus the Hebrew scriptures had earlier borne witness to this power of God. Jesus affirmed, "the God of the living" animated His practise. The same, "Power-for-Life," that raised a descendant of aged Abraham would be able to raise up other bodies! Luke's story of Jesus of Nazareth links the totality of the practice of Jesus to resurrection. Jesus' power was attributed to God - just as Moses' and the Prophets' power was - only more so!


Summing Up:


     The dynamic of the Gospel of Luke is not closed. It remains open to the addition of stories (the Acts of Apostles and the acts of modern disciples) of new encounters with the God of Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms and the bits in the Good News about Jesus, that will reinforce the practice of its modern readers and hearers. New and powerful practices stem from an awareness of the, God of the Living who continues to set bodies free!
     That's saying that the problem of God and the problem of resurrection have no meaning aside from the practice of faith, hope and love. It is only at the heart of a practice aiming at the raising of bodies that the question can be posed validly of their re-surrection. The tradition of Luke offers a critique of authoritarian, anti-life idolatries that might dominates our present society. A lively embrace of the tradition can influence and shape new forms of authority that permit newness and justice. The culture of death almost stifled the forward movement of liberation in Luke's time. It provoked Luke's interpretation of Jesus' message.
     Understanding the original context that produced the scriptural texts, helps us to apply the texts to our lives and woship. Individuals and groups committed to regular relfection on the lectionary readings, can use a commentary on the scriptures in the following ways. Before Sunday, become familiar with the text itself; perhaps refering to a commentary for clarification if that is required. Then listen to reading and its interpretation in the Sunday assembly. AT any meetings during the following wseek, use opportunities to return to the material for further reflection and sharing. (For example: a meeting for the communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation - especially during the Advent or Lenten season). If a parish group meets for whatever reason during the week after the reading was heard in the assembly, then part of the meeting might well focus on the previous Sunday's text to gauge individual performance on, "doing the Word" in the light of what was heard!
     I think this is especially relevant to a catechumenate-type group, where a weekly review becomes an experience of reconciliation of Word and response to that Word. Whatever the group, regular review of performance in the light of the previous Sunday's texts would help to build trust as the members in the group address together the tasks that discipleship of Jesus demands. The task of re-interpreting Jesus' message is as urgent and as necessary, at the beginning of the twenty-first century as it ever has been during the last 2,000 years of Christian history.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional