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Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom


Second Sunday of Lent

Text:
Luke 13.31-35
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”(Gandhi)

Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Sharing Together:

Recall an occasion when you responded violently when provoked? What was the result? Were there any unforeseen consequences? How did you feel afterwards?

A Window on the Text

Chapter 13 of Luke’s gospel begins and ends with violence. Jesus learned that Pilate’s troops had murdered people from Galilee as they were sacrificing in the Temple in Jerusalem (v1); some Pharisees warn Jesus that Herod Antipas wants to kill him (v31).

These were violent times in Palestine. Herod Antipas was responsible for putting John the Baptist to death (Luke 3:1) and was involved in the trial and mocking of Jesus (23.11). Renowned historians Philo and Josephus describe Pilate as being a cruel, greedy and oppressive ruler with a disregard for Jewish religious beliefs (See ‘More Background 1, below). These leaders, Herod Antipas and Pilate, are locked into an uncomfortable political accommodation that makes them, in Luke’s words, enemies (23.12).

To Jesus, there is nothing surprising in this situation. It is the way the world is, and has been for a long time. Jerusalem had a reputation for killing its prophets. The Herodian dynasty and its Roman guardians used brutal methods of oppression to maintain their positions, status, and wealth over several generations.

However, none of that history was going to affect Jesus’ ministry. His reply to ‘that fox’, Herod, is that he will ‘keep on casting out demons and doing miracles of healing today, tomorrow and the next day’. And as he continues to teach about the building of a better kingdom than Herod's, the just and non-violent Kingdom of God (13.18 & 13.22) he will move towards his destiny in Jerusalem.
Responding as a community
  1. The reaction by the western world to the events of ‘9/11’, and the behaviour of the market economy, seem to have escalated patterns of aggression between communities and between individuals in our world over the past decade. In what ways do you seek to promote justice in your local community without resorting to ‘violent’ methods?

  2. Do the discussions within your group sometimes become heated, with strong disagreements that tend to violate each other’s points of view? If so, how do you resolve them in a peaceful way?
Praying Together

Opening:

In Jesus Christ, we hear the Good News
that God is like a mother hen
who shelters her chickens
under her warm wings.
We believe that God is love.

In Jesus, we see a God
who wept for the people of the world,
and weeps for our wounding.

In Jesus, we see a God
who reaches out with healing hands,
who sees our pain and makes us whole.

Confession:

Recall, in silence, the story that you told during the Sharing and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Then say together, and to each other:

Hear the word to us in Christ:
If we have faith as small as a mustard seed,
God’s power is released in us.
Our healing is a gracious gift.
Rise, take up your bed and walk
Amen.

Reading: Psalm 13

Intercession:

O God, we cry to you in our anger
that we hurt each other.
Be with us and heal us O God.

We feel the fear and pain
of an innocent child and trusting child.
Be with us and heal us O God.

We carry with us the things
that we have done to others
and that have been done to us
which hurt and destroy.
Be with us and heal us O God.

Lift us up on the wings of your spirit.
Set us free with your peace and your power.

For you are stronger
than all the forces that stand against us.
Set us free,
heal our wounds,
O God who never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Peace

The peace of God be with us all.

Share the peace with each other and bless each other.

(Adapted from A Service of Healing in Liturgies for the Journey of Life by Dorothy McRae-McMahon, SPCK, 2000.)
Going Deeper
  1. Raymond Banks’ recent book The Gospel of Luke, Introduction and Theology (2006 & 2009) has a concise and helpful chapter on the religious and political background to Luke’s Gospel.

  2. It may seem surprising that the Pharisees should be the people to warn Jesus of Herod’s threats to his life. Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh address this question in their Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, explaining it in terms of ‘In-group’ and ‘Out-group’ relationships. For most of the gospel, Jesus and his followers are an in-group opposed to the Pharisees, a hostile out-group. But, in the eyes of the Pharisees, when it comes to Herod Jesus can form part of their in-group.

  3. See also, Walter Wink’s critically acclaimed book, Engaging the Powers – Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (1992) for further thoughts on non-violent response to injustice.

 

 


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