Here at the end of Luke’s “Woes” section Jesus appears to be a threat to the scribes and Pharisee’s as evidenced by their reaction to him. With their hostile planning to catch him we can sense a foreshadowing of his death—in the same way of the prophets.
We hear Jesus challenge us to strive to be authentic in our lives—to live what we believe, to operate out of what we profess. The tension ever present in our lives between our external observance and our inner life needs to be kept in balance and harmony. Why does this matter? We find a clue in v.52: “Woe to you scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” No doubt, we would abhor the very idea of stopping anyone from coming to Jesus, to be a barrier, an obstacle—never! Yet, the truth of the matter is that our actions can and do inadvertently prevent others from coming to Jesus. A healthy inner life, helps us discover this reality and be led to repentance. Jesus may have an uncomfortable message for us at times just like the scribes and the Pharisees. Perhaps he invites us to change something and we may feel like walking away from those words; this is when it can be easier to live out of our external observances. Though this is not wrong, we are only half alive. We need to recognize the truth; that we are fatally flawed—beloved sinners.
In our first reading we are treated to glorious truths “…… blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing…..” every –not just one or two—spiritual blessing. He lavished upon us the riches of his grace… he chose us before the foundation of the world. My brothers and sisters, we block others from understanding these great and wonderful truths whenever we refuse to live out of the reality of abundance. God’s providence, poured out, emptied for us—for you and for me on the cross. We are called to be a mirror of this reality as Christians—we are called to be a channel of God’s love and peace to all. To live—fully alive, gloriously alive!
There is a world of hurt out there; pain and suffering, confusion and fear, isolation and sorrow and it needs our message of love, hope, joy and peace. We are the ones charged with unlocking the gift of knowledge, internalizing it, and proclaiming wherever we go the lavishness with which our God loves us. Justice—God’s justice—must be our posture; this is a new day. Let us break down the barriers of hate and hostility in whatever ways we can. Let us never attempt to trip each other up, rather, let us lift each other up in the most holy and blessed name of Jesus Christ. As the psalm says, “The Lord has made his salvation known…sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands.” Alleluia!
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.