Thursday, October 15, 2015

Reflection: Luke 11:47-54

Thursday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time: Luke 11:47-54

Today Jesus continues his tongue lashing of the Jews.  He says: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed!  By doing this, you bear witness and give consent to these deeds of your ancestors.  Your ancestors did the killing but you do the building!”  Jesus continues berating them throughout today’s Gospel reading.  And Jesus tells it as he sees it.  
Jesus primarily is outraged by the Pharisees’ interpretation of the law.  In the time of Jesus, the law placed extremely heavy burdens on the people.  The Pharisees had no compassion or concern for the people who were carrying these burdens.  Now, put yourself into the shoes of the Pharisees.  How would you react to such a tongue-lashing? Most likely, we would not like it and we might not tolerate it.  We might even want to retaliate!
Jesus was concerned for the people: the ones who daily carried these heavy burdens of laws and requirements.  The Pharisees were concerned only for the “letter of the law” and for the money they might make through the law.  Jesus was appalled at all the Pharisees expected from the people.  Naturally, the Pharisees took great offense at Jesus’ words and condemnation.  After this embarrassing encounter with Jesus, the Pharisees began to plot against Jesus.  They had had enough of him.  Also, Jesus had a great deal of influence with the people.
Law is important and necessary.  However, the law is developed to protect and help people, not to enslave them.  How do you view the law, be that the law of God or the law of the land?  Are you a literalist in regard to the law?  Or do you take into consideration the people and the situation?  
Jesus wants us to judge rightly.  This requires that we pause and seriously consider each situation.  The danger may be that we do not understand the nuances of the situation.  We only may see the surface of what is happening.  And if we are not involved personally, it may be best just to “let it be” and allow the individuals involved to work it out with one another.  However, there will be exceptions to this, especially if someone is in danger physically or emotionally. 
Jesus primarily desires that we pause and take a breath before we automatically judge another person.  And who knows, if we do this, a person who is ready to judge us also might take a breath and let their judgment go.  Our gift may be returned to us!

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