Jesus teaches his listeners the parable of the unjust judge in order to affirm for them the efficacy of prayer. If even this unrighteous judge will grant the widow’s request, he tells us, how much more will God vindicate his elect, and speedily. We are called upon by Jesus to live a life of prayer – to express and to strengthen our faith through prayer and to channel our ever enriched faith into further prayer. This is the way to orient our lives to God [ … ]
Christ offers himself to the people as the good shepherd, recalling a favourite theme of Old Testament prophecy. Priests and kings are so described, and indeed God is spoken of as a shepherd, as we hear, for example, in Psalm 23:
THE Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake [ … ]
The publicans (tax collectors) and other sinners are drawn to hear Jesus’ teaching. Perhaps they feel Jesus offers hope to them especially. While the scribes and Pharisees, despising sinners, find Jesus behaviour as he mixes with such people to be utterly objectionable, Jesus receives all humanity with love, understanding and, where there is faith and repentance, forgiveness. It is as if the people know that they are not condemned but can be accepted by Jesus. He offers them hope [ … ]
Jesus links the symbolic imagery of the sheep, the shepherd and the sheepfold with the Temple and the Jewish authorities, and with their abuse of the Jewish people. In Bible times, it was the custom [ … ]
The Jews of Christ’s time thought of the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of Israel in terms of a great banquet, where poverty would give way to plenty and conflict to fellowship. Jesus has told two parables, while he dines at the house of the leader of the Pharisees, one of the choice of places at a feast and one of inviting the sick and the poor. In the light of the parables, a guest at the meal is moved to express the hope of the coming of the Messiah [ … ]
Jesus tells us to be vigilant. In Christ’s time, when the Jews would usually wear long, flowing garments, it was the practice to hitch them up, to gird oneself, in order to be ready to perform certain kinds of work. To gird oneself, therefore, and to keep lights burning, meant to be ready for action. Before the flight from Egypt, at the moment of the Passover, the Israelites had to gird themselves, to be ready to be able to leave immediately (Exodus 12:11) [ … ]
The parable teaches us that we must be ready, because we do not know when Christ will come to us, for the final account of our lives. This is a warning, edging our lives with the unpredictable. One positive effect of this parable is that it helps us to remain alert to the present moment. While it is easy to allow our thoughts to drift from where we are here and now, to recall the past, to worry or hope for the future, or to slip into daydreams and fantasy altogether, it is when we bring our attention to this very moment of time that we find sharpness, significance, and vibrancy in our life. We may realise just how extraordinary this great gift of life truly is, and feel empowered to live well and offer ourselves wholly to God. When we are attentive to this moment in time we may walk with Jesus [ … ]
The Galileans Herod has had killed have not behaved any better or worse than other people; they were not worse sinners than whose to whom Jesus addresses his words. God does not always punish sinners in this life. Accidents and acts of brutality may constitute no particular moral judgement. We are sinners. We stand in need of God’s mercy. We must repent [ … ]
The two parables make it clear that Christ intended the newly inaugurated phase of the history of our salvation to be the work of ages. His second coming was not to be an apocalyptic end of the world as we know it in weeks, months or just a few years after that first Easter. The world’s faith would grow with time. Christ’s Church would grow, to encompass the whole world. Christ intended the Gospel be preached to everyone the world over and through all subsequent history [ … ]
In the clamour of people crowding to be near to Jesus, one man comes to Jesus with a problem which is entirely his own and has nothing to do with his or anyone’s spiritual life. He asks Jesus to use his influence to solve a family dispute about material possessions, the family inheritance, by telling his brother to divide the inheritance fairly [ … ]