Fifth Sunday (Luke 5:1-11)
Luke sometimes presents the gospel stories in a different order from Mark and Matthew. This is the case with this story of the call of the first disciples, which he places after the visits to Nazareth and Capernaum. The story is also fuller than the short accounts in Mark and Matthew. Jesus is preaching ‘the word of God’ when he gets into Simon’s boat in order to teach the crowds from there. The miracle of the enormous catch of fish gives further background to the call of Simon Peter.
Luke makes clear that the disciples had already heard the preaching of Jesus and witnessed his miracles when they left everything to follow him. They respond ‘at the Lord’s word’. They ‘hear the word and put it into practice’.
Simon Peter is deeply aware of his unworthiness, an echo of the call of the prophet Isaiah in the first reading. Jesus responds, ‘Do not be afraid.’ These words are heard repeatedly in the Scriptures when a person is called to take up a mission for God.
Does hearing the word of God make a difference in my life?
Am I able to trust the words of Christ ‘Do not be afraid’?
Let us pray for the courage needed to respond to our vocation.
We ask for the wisdom, courage and love to be ‘fishers of men’.
Sixth Sunday (Luke 6:17, 20-26)
Luke’s ‘Sermon on the Plain’ is much shorter than the more famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Matthew’s gospel. Both these collections of Jesus’ teaching begin with beatitudes, introduced by ‘blesses’ or ‘happy’. In Luke there are four, and they are followed by four ‘woes’, speeches which begin in our translation with ‘alas’.
It is quite clear from the beatitudes that Jesus challenges the opinions of his own day, and indeed of ours. We encounter here the mystery which lies at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of life: that suffering, and loss are an extraordinary channel of blessing. How difficult it is for Christians to fathom this truth? The loving self-sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the best aid to reflecting on this mystery.
Jesus was sent to bring ’good news to the poor’. He will show repeatedly in Luke’s gospel that lack of attachment to the good things of the world leaves a person free to discover the values of God. At the same time, to bring assistance to those in material poverty is a gospel imperative. When he speaks of the persecution of the prophets, and foresees the sufferings of Christians, Jesus points to his own fate.
In what sense is poverty a channel of blessing in my life?
How do I view the abuse people suffer for being Christian?
Let us pray for a profound detachment from material things.
Let us ask for courage and love in our dealings with those who deride us. Fr Adrian Graffy