Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom
Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
Text: Luke 13.10-17: "Counted in"
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
In pairs within the group, share stories of an occasion when you felt excluded by family, neighbours, work colleagues or some other group.
How does it feel to be ‘counted out’, ignored or excluded?
A Window on the Text
Sickness and deformity had a social effect as well as physical one in ancient times as it does now.
This stooped lady would been easy to ignore in the street because eye-to-eye contact would have been impossible. We might wonder how she had become so bent. Could it have been a consequence of a lack of self-esteem and a tendency to look at the ground to avoid contact with other humans. Whatever the reason, her healing required two actions; the physical straightening of her back and the acceptance of her healed state by her friends and neighbours.
Jesus carefully attends to both aspects. First he lays hands on her and straightens her. Then, when challenged by the leader of the synagogue, he names her as ‘a daughter of Abraham’, in other words, a full member of the community just as vital as anyone else.
It is easy to assume that this type of exclusive behaviour doesn’t happen today. However, the very title of the BBC radio programme for handicapped people, “Does he take sugar”, is testament to the continued tendency for healthy people to exclude or ignore unhealthy ones.
And today the healing process also requires both the physical mending and the acceptance of the healed state by the community. Doctors and nurses know that a person must be sufficiently healed to manage their life before they can leave hospital. And hospital chaplains, understanding their patients anxiety about whether the patients family will accept them home, know that acceptance back into society also has to be assured.
Responding as a community
- Think for a few minutes, in silence, of the people in your neighbourhood who are easy to ignore, the physically and mentally handicapped, the unemployed, those who lack self-esteem. Then name them, if you can, or describe them to each other.
- What might you do, as individuals or as a group, to enhance their acceptance in society and thereby to bring a new sense of wholeness (holiness) to their lives and to that of the community?
- Begin by starting to say the Lord’s Prayer – as far as “thy will be done”
- Pray, one by one, for all those people who you have identified. Perhaps light a candle for each one, then reflect quietly on what “thy will be done’might mean for them.
- Complete the Lord’s Prayer.
- Say the Grace