Sunday School and Sunday Worship
This Week’s Readings
21 January 2018
Reading: Luke 7.1-10, 7.47, 17.11-19, 19.1-10.
GOD HAS NO FAVOURITES
A ROMAN OFFICER
Jesus was in Capernaum; a detachment of Roman soldiers was stationed there. One of the captain’s slaves, a man of whom he was very fond, was dangerously ill. The captain heard that Jesus was in town, and he sent a message to him by some Jewish Leaders, who were friends of his, to ask him to come and cure his slave. They found Jesus; they were very keen to get him to help the captain. “He deserves help like this,” they said. “He’s a friend of all Jewish people. It was he who built our Meeting House for us.” Jesus went along with them. He had almost reached the house, when the captain again sent some of his friends to meet him. “Sir,” he sent word, “Don’t go to any more trouble. It wouldn’t be fitting for you to come inside my house; that’s why I didn’t think it was right for me to come to meet you myself. Give the word of command, and my boy will be well. I am an officer in the army; there are generals over me and soldiers under me, and I know what orders are. I tell this soldier to go, and he goes; I tell that soldier to come, and he comes; I tell my slave to do this, and he does it.” Jesus was filled with admiration for this Roman captain. He turned to the crowd. “Believe me, I haven’t found a Jew who trusted me like this.” The captain’s friends went back to the house, and they found the slave fit and well.
A WIDOW, A WOMAN WHO WAS A ‘BAD LOT’
“Listen: because of her great love, all the wrong things she’s done and they are many – are forgiven. You don’t show much love for me, do you? But then, you don’t feel the need to be forgiven.”
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He was passing through the border country of Samaria and Galilee, and he went into one of the villages. On the road into the village, ten men met him – all lepers. But they kept their distance.
“Jesus! Sir!” they shouted to him. “Take pity on us!” Jesus saw them. “You know the law for lepers who are cured,” he called back. “Go and show yourself to the priest.” Off the lepers went; and as they walked along the road they found they were lepers no longer – they were cured. One of the men turned back to say “Thank you”. “Praise be to God!” he kept shouting loudly. He fell down on his face at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was the only who wasn’t a Jew; he was a “foreigner” from Samaria.
Reflexion of the week
THE STRATEGY OF JESUS
Jesus first called “his own people” to respond to the Way of God. He appealed to his own nation to be the People of God – just as the prophets had done before him. But Jesus was preparing a strategy which would involve the whole of
humankind. His nation would be the spearhead into the new world, but the Good News was never to be confined to them. They were to be the first agents of the call to serve God’s Way, but the ministry was not confined to them. The
strategy was “The Jew first and also for the Greek. For God has no favourites.” (Paul). “God so loved the world.” (John). Luke is possibly the only non-Jew to write in the New Testament. He describes how Jesus revealed the
love of God to the most unexpected people – and how the most unexpected people were the ones who responded most generously and willingly to the love of God. People were full of surprises. God was full of surprises.
JESUS CREATES FRIENDS
When Jesus was about 10 years old, Judea was brought under direct Roman rule, and Galilee brought under the jurisdiction of a procurator. The Romans were hated as occupying forces. Yet Luke tells us of an incident in which
Jesus heals the slave of a centurion. Even more surprising are the words of Jesus: “Believe me, I haven’t found a Jew who trusted me like this.”In another incident, Jesus has a meal with Simon the Pharisee, and while he is there, a woman ‘who was a bad lot’ wiped his feet with her hair and poured ointment on them again and again. Jesus tells the religious Simon that the ‘irreligious’ woman is accepted in the sight of God because of her great love.
A third incident takes place in the border country. On the road, ten lepers call for healing, Jesus heals them all but only one returns to say ‘Thank you.’ He was a foreigner from Samaria.
A fourth incident relates to a rich man called Zacchaeus – rich, unpopular and seen as traitor to his people because he collected taxes for the Roman state. Yet Jesus invites himself to a meal at the home of Zacchaeus and states unequivocally, “God himself has come to this home today. This man belongs to God’s family too.” The Gospel is centred on God’s compassionate power which evokes a response of gratitude and social action. What is also surprising is that those who respond most graciously are those we least expect: sometimes at the head of the “social pyramid”; also outcasts as far as the respectable are concerned. What is certain is that a Christian can expect many surprises.
Prayer of the week
A prayer to Christ
Christ our God, who at all times and in every hour are worshipped and glorified in heaven and on earth; long-suffering, generous in mercy, and rich in compassion; loving to the righteous and merciful to the sinner; you call all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come: Lord, in this hour accept our prayers and direct our lives in the way of your commandments. Sanctify our souls, purify our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds, and deliver us from all affliction, evil, and distress. Encompass us with your holy angels, so that guided and guarded by their company we may reach the unity of faith and in the knowledge your unapproachable glory, for you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.