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Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom


Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Text:
Luke 12. 32-40:
"Who or what do you rely on? God, or the bank balance? "

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

If your house caught fire, what would be so important to you that you would want to take it with you as you make your escape … and why?

What is the one thing in your life from which you could not bear to be parted?
A Window on the Text

Jesus always showed a special concern for the poor and those who live on the ‘edge’ of society, who have few possessions, who somehow manage to survive in a world which treats them as nobodies (verses 32-34). It is these, he says, who already possess the ‘kingdom of God’. He warns would-be disciples that to belong to this kingdom they need to get rid of those things which prevent a true trust in God. Jesus does not condemn ownership of wealth as such, but warns that the very fact of possessing it can be an obstacle to living the life of faith, because then there is no actual need to trust God for daily needs. He later tells a wealthy young man, who might have followed him, to give away his possessions to the poor; but the cost was too great (Luke 18: 18-30). His possessions possessed him!

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,’ Jesus said (Matthew 19.24). True wealth was to be measured by generosity of spirit and practising the values of the kingdom. Paradoxically, it is the poor who materially have next to nothing who in fact may already have all that matters!

Jesus, having spoken about the right attitude to wealth, reminds us that material things have no lasting value, whereas God’s new order does. In the coming days of uncertainty and crisis there is an urgent need to be alert. Jesus urges his disciples to be ready for whatever happens to them. He may be referring to the shock of his coming arrest and execution; he may also be anticipating, in view of the rejection of his message, the coming catastrophe which culminated in the disastrous revolt of AD 66-70 which ended Jewish national life with such terrible destruction. Luke wrote his gospel probably not long after that period of great upheaval. Jesus’ challenge to his disciples was, then as now, to remain faithful, alert and ready to face whatever happens in all and every circumstance - still holding to the values of the kingdom … until the close of the age and the fulfilment of God’s universal new order. The reward for faithfulness is pictured as sharing in the messianic banquet where it is the Lord who serves those reclining at the table (v37) ... a heavenly repetition of the Last supper when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13.5-14). The world’s order is again reversed as the Servant King serves his disciples!
Responding as a community
  1. How can possession of money be an obstacle to trust in God, and what could we really do about it? How do we balance our wealth, the obligations of living in modern society, responsibility to our families, and to God?

  2. How can your community re-assess the values by which it operates, especially in a world of gross inequality? What practical steps can be taken?

  3. How can we escape the trap of having too much and not needing to trust God on a day-by-day basis? What obligation does possession of wealth place on us?

  4. Jesus had a special affection for the ‘little ones’, the poor nobodies. What do they teach us about wealth and poverty?
Praying Together

A single candle placed on a table is lit.

C: ‘The Lord is here.’ All: His Spirit is with us

Read slowly: Luke 12.33-34

All say: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven

5 minutes silent reflection

All say: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven

Prayers of silent intercession: For the poor …

All say: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven

For the wealthy …

All say: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven

Conclusion: The Lord’s Prayer

The Grace: (all together)
Going Deeper
  1. Read Malachi Ch 3.9-12.
    The prophet challenges the people to trust God, to put offerings to God before knowing the outcome rather than ensuring that they have enough first before giving to God! A basic principle for Christian stewardship.

  2. Read 2 Corinthians 9.6-14
    The poor churches of Macedonia knew the reality of God’s provision and trusted and first ‘gave’ before ensuring they had enough. God had already proved worthy of their trust: the point made by Jesus in the passage immediately preceding today’s gospel passage. See in particular 2Cor 9.10-1

 

 


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