ISSL Reflections April 21 2024 Luke 7:36–39, 44–50 Post 1

I.
It seems “faith” is on display again in this week’s reading as it was in the last few weeks.

Does this encounter help us understand faith any more deeply?

As you read the following you might spend time noticing how each person reacts to and treats the other.

II.
Luke 7:36–39, 44–50 (NVSVue)

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and when he went into the Pharisee’s house he reclined to dine. And a woman in the city who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair, kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

III.
I noticed the heading for this passage in one bible is “A Sinful Woman Forgiven.”

Do you think that is the best title for and description for this?

What about –

  • The dinner party crasher
  • Uninvited guests
  • The rude Pharisee
  • The inhospitable host
  • Where are tears coming from
  • But I didn’t ask for anything

Do any of these alternate titles for the passage draw you into understanding how “love” is present and absent from these encounters?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 14 2024 Luke 7:1–10 Post 3

VII.
Read the passage once again and keep firmly in your mind that Jesus said, “… not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Let that be your lens through which to view this encounter.

VIII.
Luke 7:1-10 (NRSVue)

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me, and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and, turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

IX.
What counts as “faith” in this reading?

What aspect or aspects of the Centurion words and actions and character lead Jesus to speak so highly of his faith?

How does faith show up in your life?

What or your words and actions and character would lead Jesus to speak of your faith?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 14 2024 Luke 7:1–10 Post 2

IV.
Returning to the encounter of the Centurion with Jesus, focus today on what you can learn or even guess about who the Centurion is and any insight you have as to his character.

V.
Luke 7:1-10 (NRSVue)

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me, and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and, turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

VII.
What do you think of the Centurion?

He is presented as a commander of a group of Roman soldiers who are there to occupy, police, and control a foreign territory.

What does it mean to you that he “had a slave whom he valued highly”? What do you think the slave’s value to the Centurion could have been?

Why would he “build [a] synagogue” for the Jews of Capernaum? So it was maybe easier for him to control the population? Was he just generous? Was he a “god-fearer,” one who believed in the God of Jews?

Why did he send Jewish elders to ask for Jesus’ help? He even admits he could have as easily sent any of his soldiers or slaves/servants?

Who is he?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Desu ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 14 2024 Luke 7:1–10 Post 1

I.
We begin this passage with a notice that Jesus had finished teaching a crowd of people.

I wonder if this is a clue to us? Keep your eyes and ears open for what comes next? When you think it is over, it isn’t?

In any case, it appears we might see here what Jesus taught when he finished teaching.

Open your eyes so you see all the folk identified in this reading. Open your ears so you hear what they say to one another.

II.
Luke 7:1-10 (NRSVue)

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me, and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and, turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

III.
Who takes center stage in this encounter?

The powerful (and maybe rich) Centurion? His slave who is at death’s door? The Jewish elders (ones in charge of the synagogue in Capernaum, rabbis, even Pharisees and scribes, maybe) who are begging Jesus to heal the Centurion’s slave? The sick slave (who as a slave might be counted worthless and certainly replaceable to many in that culture)? The crowd following Jesus to hear him teach or maybe some were following with the hope of being fed or healed? And then there is Jesus.

Maybe who takes center stage depends on one’s perspective?

Maybe you could read the passage several times and look at it from a different person’s perspective with each reading. Put a different person in the center with each reading.

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 7 2024 Luke 5:17–26 Post 3

VII.
What does the passage suggest to you about the nature of faith?

VIII.
Luke 5:17-26 (NRSVue)

One day while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem were sitting nearby, and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but, finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.

When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your stretcher and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen incredible things today.”

IX.
Make sure you notice –

“When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’

Did I get that right? “… their faith …” Not just the faith of the man that was healed but the faith of those who carried him to Jesus.

Have you ever considered how your faith affects others? And more to the point, how can your faith benefit others? Can your faith benefit others who might not have faith?

How far might your faith take you? How far are you willing to go and how much are you willing to carry?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 7 2024 Luke 5:17–26 Post 2

IV.
Let’s return to our focus passage and watch and consider the men who were carrying the paralyzed man.

V.
Luke 5:17-26 (NRSVue)

One day while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem were sitting nearby, and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but, finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.

When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your stretcher and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen incredible things today.”

VI.
Who are the men carrying the paralyzed man? What is their relationship to him? What provoked them to make the effort to carry him to Jesus?

Have you considered all the barriers these men had to overcome to place the paralyzed man “in front of Jesus”?

Why would they make such an effort?

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 7 2024 Luke 5:17–26 Post 1

I.
There is a lot to take in, so let’s begin by reading the passage slowly, pausing often (maybe after every phrase or sentence) so we can picture all the Gospel writer wants us to notice.

II.
Luke 5:17-26 (NRSVue)

One day while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem were sitting nearby, and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but, finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.

When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your stretcher and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen incredible things today.”

III.
Can you picture how these events unfold?

Who do you see? What are they doing?

Why is our attention called to the “Pharisees and the teachers of the law” before the “paralyzed man” is mentioned?

We even hear about some unnamed “men … carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher” before the paralyzed man is in view. Why?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections March 31 2024 Mark 16:1–8 – Post 3

VII.
Let’s return to this Gospel’s account of the women’s first experience of resurrection.

While the Gospel of Mark ends with a lot unsaid about resurrection, what does it say about resurrection?

VIII.
Mark 16:1-8 (NRSVue)

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.]]

IX.
Did you catch what the “young man” told them as he gave them instructions on what to tell “his disciples and Peter…”?

… you will see him, just as he told you.

Had they already forgotten what Jesus told them? Did grief and fear so hold them, they were already forgetting Jesus and his teachings?

What causes us or might cause us to lose sight of Jesus?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections March 31 2024 Mark 16:1–8 – Post 2

IV.
Returning to our focus passage for this week, notice all the words that describe what the women had done, were prepared to do and the emotions provoked by what they found and heard.

V.
Mark 16:1-8 (NRSVue)

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.]]

VII.
We are told they prepared themselves for an important burial rite for one they loved. Why?

Why were they concerned about “the stone”?

Walk with them into the tomb. What do you see? What concerns, even frightens you? What do you want to do? Do you want to run out of the tomb? Do you question what you think you see?

Even after the “young man” speaks to them they, “… fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them … they were afraid.”

Why did the flee?

Why do you think they are gripped by both “terror” and “amazement”?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections March 31 2024 Mark 16:1–8 – Post 1

I.
This post goes out on Monday of Holy Week. This week we will spend time with the Gospel of Mark’s account of the dawning of Resurrection Sunday.

Before we turn our attention to this passage, take a few moments to recall how Jesus’ followers were left devastated and fearful when he was crucified and died.

What did they expect when they went to the tomb that morning?

II.
Mark 16:1-8 (NRSVue)

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.]]

III.
Who was going to the tomb on that “first day of the week”?

What were they bringing to the tomb? What were they going to do?

Do you think that’s what they should have brought? Do you think that’s what they should have anticipated doing?

I seems to me hard for us to understand what emotions and spirit they took to the tomb that morning, given we have had many opportunities to read about and hear about what happened on that day and on the days that immediately followed, but take time to try to walk with these women to the tomb and stand before the tomb with them.

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}