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Scripture Reflection - September 8, 2019

Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York Scripture Reflection

A recipe for discipleship

Sometimes the Gospel for the day reads more like a cook book than an inspirational narrative or story that holds the power to stir our souls. Today’s gospel is a case in point. Luke is providing us with a long list of many disparate sayings of Jesus which at first glance do not appear to hang together very well. Why is this?

For many years, the disciples, witnesses, and early followers of Jesus, simply kept what became the Gospel story intact by telling it over and over again in the oral tradition. Eventually, these disparate stories and sayings were placed within contexts and episodes, and the evangelists arranged them in ways that gave the evolved stories particular emphasis to the communities for whom they were writing.

However, these Gospel writers often found themselves with sayings of Jesus that survived many decades in the oral tradition, but the context in which these sayings were presented were long forgotten. So, from time to time in one or another Gospel, we come across a place where the sayings, deemed important to the Christian community appear, but without a frame or context to help our understanding of them. Here is where the cook book metaphor can be of help to us as we make meaning of these sayings and strive to understand how they can become a recipe for our discipleship.

Within the Middle Eastern mind and culture then and now, the idea of abandoning one’s tribe or family is incomprehensible. Why then is Jesus using this stark and shocking image to communicate his message? What is he saying to us about discipleship and its call to love and create community beyond the boundaries of blood lines?

Furthermore, why does Jesus go into such detail about the right and wrong way to plan a project such as constructing a tower or planning a war? Is this his way of asking us to carefully consider what will be required of us as we collaborate with him in building the kin-dom of God? After all, what good to anyone is an abandoned and incomplete kin-dom? What good to anyone is a half-baked mission? What good to the world is our war-making when our peacemaking is always possible?

This Sunday, we’re being offered in the Gospel, elements of a recipe that promise to nurture in us a mission that will serve the building of the kin-dom of God. Now, let’s cook it up and see what happens!

Sister Arlene Flaherty, OP


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