|Reading 1||Response||Reading 2||Gospel|
| Sir 27:4-7
RCL: Is 55:10-13
|Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16|| 1 Cor 15:54-58
RCL: 1 Cor 15:51-58
| Lk 6:39-45
RCL: Lk 6:39-49
Discipleship: how we are known
During Ordinary time the Lectionary readings present stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. This week’s readings invite us to judge the fruits of our own discipleship.
The first reading, from the book of Sirach, is part of Hebrew scripture’s wisdom writings. Sirach draws a parallel between something known from nature (a well-cared for tree produces good fruit) and something true about the human experience (a well-cared for inner life produces good and wise words). The Lectionary editors chose this reading because Jesus uses a similar saying about trees and fruit in today’s gospel.
The second reading concludes the Lectionary’s reading cycle from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian ekklesia. Paul continues to correct Corinthian ideas about the resurrection. The Corinthian gnostics thought baptism initiated them into the resurrected life; therefore they didn’t needs a physical resurrection after death. Paul quotes Hosea’s metaphor (Hos 13:14) that compares death to a scorpion: a scorpion kills with a sting (“sin”) from its tail. Paul teaches that “death has lost its sting” because God has given us victory through Christ, who has defeated sin, the cause of death. Paul also says that “sin’s power comes from the Law.” That is, God gave humans the Law to help us become holy. Ironically, the Law gave humans more opportunities to fail, which increased sin’s power (more rules = more failings). However, because Christ removed the threat of death, the believing community can now focus on living lives (“labor”) aligned with Christ as part of Christ’s finished work.
Luke’s gospel concludes Jesus’ “sermon on the plain.” Addressing those who have chosen discipleship, Jesus uses three parables and a saying to teach about community living:
- The parables. Continuing his theme of compassion and non-judgement, Jesus presents his disciples with three parabolic sayings about how to live in the kingdom’s community: leaders can be blind, teachers can be limited, and correction can easily turn into hypocrisy. Jesus warns those who set themselves up as moral leaders, teachers, or advisors (condemning or correcting others) have their own moral blind spots, incomplete understanding, and obscured vision. To condemn or correct others without such self-awareness makes a leader, teacher, or advisor a hypocrite.
- The saying. In the ancient world, people believed that character preceded action; that is, a person’s deeds (“fruit”) reveal the state of one’s heart. Only a hypocrite could camouflage his natural inclinations. In this saying that summarizes his parables, Jesus gives would-be judges of others a measure of their own worthiness or unworthiness: one’s mouth (what you say) must agree with one’s heart (what or who you are).
This week’s readings ask every believing community member to consider his or her relationships with others. In his “sermon on the plain,” Jesus calls his disciples to a higher standard of behavior. A disciple is blessed to be invited into the kingdom. A disciple loves his enemies. A disciple shows God-like love and mercy. A disciple’s actions flow from her character or “heart.” A disciple produces good words and actions. The sermon on the plain challenges us to measure our discipleship. Am I blind to my own personal failings? Have I failed to learn important moral lessons? What beam in my own eye am I purposely ignoring? What are my words and actions saying to the community?