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notre dame montreal

 

Ordinary 21

Ordinary 21 Year C 2016

The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman

Making Real the Kingdom

The Gospel reading has Jesus in a SynagogueMaking Real the Kingdom

The Gospel reading has Jesus in a Synagogue.  It’s not the first time we read of Him in a Synagogue in Luke.  The first time was back in Chapter 4 where He goes into he Synagogue in Nazareth, where he had been brought up and announces that he is here to:

  • Bring good news to the afflicted
  • Proclaim liberty to the captives
  • Give sight to the blind
  • Let the oppressed go free
  • Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (when all that was rightfully God’s was returned to Him)

 

Everyone was enraged by this, including the synagogue rulers and the hustled Him out of town.  So Jesus ‘has previous’ with the Synagogue authorities.

He also ‘has previous’ with the Sabbath rules as the disciples picked ears of corn and rubbed them in their hands and eating.  He told the Pharisees then that the Son of man was Lord of the Sabbath.

Now He’s on the way to Jerusalem and is teaching the disciples may things about the nature of discipleship and preparing them for what is to come and He is in a Synagogue teaching.

And as He’s teaching He sees a woman before Him who is unable to stand upright (hold her head up).  As we’re told she’s been in this condition for 18 years is logical to assume she is well known to everyone in the Synagogue. 

Luke gives her a status, she’s referred to as ‘a daughter of Abraham’ indicating she’s probably a Jewess.  It doesn’t look like she came to be healed or demanded to see Jesus but it would seem that in all this anonymity Jesus sees her and is filled with compassion.

For 18 years it might appear that no-one has done anything to help her, we can’t tell from the text.  But whatever has happened in the past, Jesus changes the situation.  He addresses her, lays hands on her, and says she is freed from her disability.  (He has said He has come to bring freedom!).

She stands up, for the first time in 18 years, and praises God.

You might expect the Ruler of the Synagogue to be pleased at this, a bit of fame for His Synagogue.  Not a bit of it.

He castigates Jesus for ‘working’ on the Sabbath and tries to whip up everyone present to support him in his outrage.

The definition of what constitutes work on a Sabbath can be complex.  Generally its something connected (however loosely or indirectly) with production or trade.  Exceptions would generally be anything that could be seen, however remotely as a matter of life and death.

Jesus simply states to the people there that what He is doing is not work.  Bringing about the restoration and salvation of God’s Kingdom is not work, it’s simply an outworking of who He is and why He has come.  It is an outworking of reconciling the world to God.

Jesus’ heart was touched when He say the crippled woman and He reacted spontaneously to what He saw because of who He is and His love for the world and its people and reconciliation being part of His very being.

He didn’t have to think about what was the right thing to do, it just flowed out of Him because of who He was.

Similarly for us, when we see need, it shouldn’t just be a case of working out what we should be doing, trying to work out how we should react to a particular situation, our actions should flow out of our love for Jesus and for His people.

For those in the Synagogue, and for all who followed the law, Jesus tries to shake them out of the belief that if they followed the law, the processes and procedures, the observances that had been build up by people, they were doing the right thing and that which God expected. 
Their actions should be born out of love for God and come as a response to His love for them.

It’s as if both the woman and the Synagogue ruler and those in the Synagogue were tied up and needed releasing from the things that held them captive.  Things that stopped them being what God wanted them to be.

Jesus wanted people to see that knowing God was about knowing the person of the Father, not just the laws that people had written to define Him.

And doing God’s work is not a matter of working out what we should be doing, making sure we follow the rules of religious observance, some of which we might even make up ourselves, but a natural outworking of our relationship with God and our care and concern for His creation and His people.  Our desire to be part of the work of reconciliation. 

Of helping people being untied from the things that bind them so they can be what God intends them to be.

That’s partly what the writer of the book of Hebrews is pointing out in our epistle reading.  We come before God in a relationship which has been forged by Jesus, the mediator of the new Covenant.

God is no less God, but He is a God who can be approached.  His Kingdom is not just about mere rules and regulations, not solely about the law, but a new and living Kingdom which is open to all who chose to be part of it.

This is the Kingdom that Jesus was inviting everyone to be part of. 

Interestingly, it would seem that the woman had been known, at least to some people, for 18 years.

Sometimes the people God wants us to show His care and compassion to are right there in front of us, and have been for years, we just need to see things from Jesus’ perspective.

Now it may not be that Jesus calls us to perform miracles such as we’ve just read about in the gospel.  The passages that follow our reading today are the parables of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast.

God’s Kingdom, it would seem can start from very small beginnings.  Very small steps and actions that are taken as we step out in faith, allow ourselves to be interrupted from our own routine, and see people and needs and Jesus sees them.

.  It’s not the first time we read of Him in a Synagogue in Luke.  The first time was back in Chapter 4 where He goes into he Synagogue in Nazareth, where he had been brought up and announces that he is here to:

  • Bring good news to the afflicted
  • Proclaim liberty to the captives
  • Give sight to the blind
  • Let the oppressed go free
  • Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (when all that was rightfully God’s was returned to Him)

 

Everyone was enraged by this, including the synagogue rulers and the hustled Him out of town.  So Jesus ‘has previous’ with the Synagogue authorities.

He also ‘has previous’ with the Sabbath rules as the disciples picked ears of corn and rubbed them in their hands and eating.  He told the Pharisees then that the Son of man was Lord of the Sabbath.

Now He’s on the way to Jerusalem and is teaching the disciples may things about the nature of discipleship and preparing them for what is to come and He is in a Synagogue teaching.

And as He’s teaching He sees a woman before Him who is unable to stand upright (hold her head up).  As we’re told she’s been in this condition for 18 years is logical to assume she is well known to everyone in the Synagogue. 

Luke gives her a status, she’s referred to as ‘a daughter of Abraham’ indicating she’s probably a Jewess.  It doesn’t look like she came to be healed or demanded to see Jesus but it would seem that in all this anonymity Jesus sees her and is filled with compassion.

For 18 years it might appear that no-one has done anything to help her, we can’t tell from the text.  But whatever has happened in the past, Jesus changes the situation.  He addresses her, lays hands on her, and says she is freed from her disability.  (He has said He has come to bring freedom!).

She stands up, for the first time in 18 years, and praises God.

You might expect the Ruler of the Synagogue to be pleased at this, a bit of fame for His Synagogue.  Not a bit of it.

He castigates Jesus for ‘working’ on the Sabbath and tries to whip up everyone present to support him in his outrage.

The definition of what constitutes work on a Sabbath can be complex.  Generally its something connected (however loosely or indirectly) with production or trade.  Exceptions would generally be anything that could be seen, however remotely as a matter of life and death.

Jesus simply states to the people there that what He is doing is not work.  Bringing about the restoration and salvation of God’s Kingdom is not work, it’s simply an outworking of who He is and why He has come.  It is an outworking of reconciling the world to God.

Jesus’ heart was touched when He say the crippled woman and He reacted spontaneously to what He saw because of who He is and His love for the world and its people and reconciliation being part of His very being.

He didn’t have to think about what was the right thing to do, it just flowed out of Him because of who He was.

Similarly for us, when we see need, it shouldn’t just be a case of working out what we should be doing, trying to work out how we should react to a particular situation, our actions should flow out of our love for Jesus and for His people.

For those in the Synagogue, and for all who followed the law, Jesus tries to shake them out of the belief that if they followed the law, the processes and procedures, the observances that had been build up by people, they were doing the right thing and that which God expected. 
Their actions should be born out of love for God and come as a response to His love for them.

It’s as if both the woman and the Synagogue ruler and those in the Synagogue were tied up and needed releasing from the things that held them captive.  Things that stopped them being what God wanted them to be.

Jesus wanted people to see that knowing God was about knowing the person of the Father, not just the laws that people had written to define Him.

And doing God’s work is not a matter of working out what we should be doing, making sure we follow the rules of religious observance, some of which we might even make up ourselves, but a natural outworking of our relationship with God and our care and concern for His creation and His people.  Our desire to be part of the work of reconciliation. 

Of helping people being untied from the things that bind them so they can be what God intends them to be.

That’s partly what the writer of the book of Hebrews is pointing out in our epistle reading.  We come before God in a relationship which has been forged by Jesus, the mediator of the new Covenant.

God is no less God, but He is a God who can be approached.  His Kingdom is not just about mere rules and regulations, not solely about the law, but a new and living Kingdom which is open to all who chose to be part of it.

This is the Kingdom that Jesus was inviting everyone to be part of. 

Interestingly, it would seem that the woman had been known, at least to some people, for 18 years.

Sometimes the people God wants us to show His care and compassion to are right there in front of us, and have been for years, we just need to see things from Jesus’ perspective.

Now it may not be that Jesus calls us to perform miracles such as we’ve just read about in the gospel.  The passages that follow our reading today are the parables of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast.

God’s Kingdom, it would seem can start from very small beginnings.  Very small steps and actions that are taken as we step out in faith, allow ourselves to be interrupted from our own routine, and see people and needs and Jesus sees them.

 

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