The Gospel according to Luke (11:37-41)
After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
The one word that seems to apply best to the Gospel today (and to the Saint whose memorial we remember today) is “expectations”. We all have expectations, don’t we? We expect that our bosses will treat us fairly and with respect. We expect that the roadways to work and home will be clear. We expect that we will sleep well, and wake with all the energy to face the new day. I’m not sure, but thinking of that list of expectations, it is fair to say that reality does not quite live up to them, does it?
Expectations abound for us in the Gospel, where we see that the Pharisee whose house Jesus visited clearly expected Jesus to abide by the ritual washing that was part of the Jewish practice, and was “amazed” that He did not do that. And, today, we recall St Ignatius of Antioch, who would have been expected to fear his impending death in Rome, but instead, he pleaded with his followers not to prevent his sacrifice.
What can we take from these two varied views of expectations? First, we are reminded of how we as followers of Jesus are to focus first of all on doing all we can to live Jesus’ example of love. Others will certainly be “amazed” when we face the world wanting to shine Jesus’ light, even in a world where there is such darkness. Looking to Jesus for His example is the only way we can possibly pray for peace, especially in the Middle East, when there is so much pain. We won’t necessarily understand why events unfold as they do, but we just trust. We trust that God is the one with the plan, and we trust that it is the plan that is right for each of us.
And, we can look to the example of St Ignatius, who knew that his earthly life was just a small step on the path to eternity in heaven. Everything he did reminded his followers that heaven is what we strive for. We long to share Jesus’ love as much as we can, and draw as many of our brothers and sisters into that love and light. And, ultimately, the path to this place of eternal rest and joy is not guaranteed to be restful or joyful for the short term. But, the glories of heaven are worth all the effort we make to get there, and to draw others with us into God’s amazing family of love.
Action for the Day:
Ask God today for one way that you can shine His light in your day today. Don’t worry if it’s some small action – truly, those are the ones that change the world in ways we can never fully know! St Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us!
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