ISSL Reflections May 5 2024 Romans 3:21–30 Post 2

IV.
Returning to our focus passage today, notice the comment, “Through what kind of law?

What kinds of “law” does Paul put before us?

V.
Romans 3:21-30 (NRSVue)

But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed and is attested by the Law and the Prophets, the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to demonstrate at the present time his own righteousness, so that he is righteous and he justifies the one who has the faith of Jesus.

Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. Through what kind of law? That of works? No, rather through the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of gentiles also? Yes, of gentiles also, since God is one, and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

VII.
Do you agree that Paul wants us to consider the law of works and the law of faith?

How would you contrast these two kinds of law?

For that matter, does it make sense to you to speak of “the law of faith”?

For you, what characteristic of the “law of faith” stands out to you as the most important contrast to the “law of works”?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections May 5 2024 Romans 3:21–30 Post 1

I.
As you read this passage (a couple to times at least), what word or phrase captures your attention.

Once you have a word or phase in mind that holds you attention, notice if it bothers you or reassures you.

II.
Romans 3:21-30 (NRSVue)

But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed and is attested by the Law and the Prophets, the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to demonstrate at the present time his own righteousness, so that he is righteous and he justifies the one who has the faith of Jesus.

Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. Through what kind of law? That of works? No, rather through the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of gentiles also? Yes, of gentiles also, since God is one, and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

III.
He mentions “law” 5 times, “righteousness” 4 times, and “faith” 7 times.

Initially the phrase, “the righteousness of God,” grabs my attention. He writes that “[God] did this to demonstrate his righteousness …

What demonstrates “the righteousness of God”?

How do you see “law” or “faith” or both involved in that demonstration?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 28 2024 Matthew 15:21–28 Post 3

VII.
What have you come to think of the conversation between the Canaanite woman and Jesus (and the disciples perspective and comment)?

Let’s slowly read this passage once again and try to see the entire scene as it unfolds before you.

VIII.
Matthew 15:21-28 (NRSVue)

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.

IX.
Have there been times you were on your way someplace and did not want to be delayed?

What happens when you are delayed?

How do you respond?

Do you look for a way around the delay? Do you become impatient? Very impatient? Do you sense you are in more of a rush and might even not pay attention to what is going on? Not fully notice the cause for the delay?

How often are we so preoccupied by our own thoughts or plans that we fail to pay attention to what is “right in front of us”?

Jesus’ disciples give me the impression they did not have time or interest in encountering this shouting woman. And I guess that means they were not interested in what need and what pain might have brought her to confront Jesus.

She and Jesus do have a conversation. Jesus recognized the depth of her need and her faith and responded to both.

Do we have time, patience, and energy to pay attention to what happens around us and who we encounter on our journeys?

Do we listen? Do we see? Are we present?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 28 2024 Matthew 15:21–28 Post 2

IV.
What have you made of the exchange between the Canaanite woman and Jesus?

As you read and meditate on these words, do you notice anything in the face of the Canaanite woman or Jesus that helps you understand what is going on between them.

V.
Matthew 15:21-28 (NRSVue)

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.

VI.
Over time I have heard of several ways to understand this exchange. Try reading the passage through the lens of these differing understandings.

  • (1) At this time and place in Jesus’ teaching and ministry he was convinced that his mission was only to the “house of Israel” and he did not want this Canaanite woman interfering and taking his time away from his real work. The Canaanite woman challenges him to expand his understanding of his work and the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • (2) Jesus knew his disciples did not yet understand that the Kingdom of Heaven which he announced was for all people regardless of race or nationality. They could not see the universal scope of the Kingdom, so Jesus pushed this exchange to teach the disciples that all peoples could enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • (3) Jesus was aware of the Canaanite woman’s limited faith and initiated this harsh exchange to help her connect more fully with the depths of her faith. He was calling her to expand and enlarge her faith in God and him.

I suspect there are several more ways the exchange can be viewed.

Do any of these (or others you know of) help you understand what is happening between the two?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 28 2024 Matthew 15:21–28 Post 1

I.
Once again we take note of an individual who is recognized to have great faith. But on the way to that recognition we have a conversation between a woman and Jesus which presents a number of questions for us to deal with.

Take time to read our focus passage and especially notice the exchange between the woman and Jesus.

How would you characterize their conversation?

II.
Matthew 15:21-28 (NRSVue)

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.

III.
The woman is described as a Canaanite woman from the “district of Tyre and Sidon.” These cities are in an area known as Phoenicia. All of which serves to emphasize the woman is very truly a Gentile, and from an area that is known for ancient hostilities to the “house of Israel.”

What kind of barriers might that suggest exist between Jesus (and his disciples) and the woman and her daughter?

Jesus ignores the woman’s initial request and the disciples seem offended by her “shouting” and ask Jesus to “send her away.”

What do you make of how Jesus (and the disciples) act here?

Why would he treat her in such a disrespectful way?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 21 2024 Luke 7:36–39, 44–50 Post 3

VII.
What comes first? No this is not a chicken or an egg joke.

… her many sins are forgiven; hence she has shown great love.”

VIII.
Luke 7:36–39, 44–50 (NRSVue)

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.”

IX.
What’s the relationship between forgiveness, love, faith, salvation and peace?

Did Jesus mean since he forgave her, she showed great love?

But wait, she washed his feet, dried them, kissed his feet and anointed him before he said that.

Were those acts of love or was she “earning” forgiveness?

Was there some source of or kind of “faith” that prompted her to those actions?

And while we are thinking about love, how well did the Pharisee display love?

What comes first?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections April 21 2024 Luke 7:36–39, 44–50 Post 2

IV.
Why did the Pharisee invite Jesus to dinner?

V.
Luke 7:36–39, 44–50 (NRSVue)

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.”

VI.
Another question about the Pharisee – why did he fail to show hospitality to Jesus?

Jesus mentions several things the host did not do for him that was probably expected in that culture.

It seems Jesus might be no more an honored guest than the “woman … who was a sinner.”

If that is accurate, why was Jesus invited?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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}