Faith Daily | 12 October 2021
PRAYER of the DAY - PENTECOST APBA p591
in your wisdom you have so ordered our earthly life
that we must walk by faith and not by sight:
give such trust in your fatherly care
that in the face of all perplexities
we may give proof of our faith by the courage of our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Luke 11: 37-41 (Contemporary English Version)
When Jesus finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him home for a meal. Jesus went and sat down to eat. The Pharisee was surprised that he did not wash his hands before eating. So the Lord said to him: “You Pharisees clean the outside of cups and dishes, but on the inside you are greedy and evil. You fools! Didn’t God make both the outside and the inside? If you would only give what you have to the poor, everything you do would please God.”
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: Rachel McFadyen
Jesus is continuing his teaching on what matters in life, and what matters to God. In this passage, he’s been invited for dinner in the home of one of the Pharisees. Maybe the man wanted to listen to Jesus, but he couldn’t resist a chance to catch him out and criticise him. So his first comment was surprise that Jesus had not first washed his hands, as was the rule for observant Jews.
Now, we don’t know why Jesus did not wash his hands; presumably water and a cloth were there for him, as would have been normal. But Jesus’ reply was quite aggressive, calling the Pharisees “greedy and evil” – not how you would normally talk to your host! I think Jesus was actually saying “You invited me here to listen to me, but all you care about is the superficial. I have the words of power, and you have seen me cast out demons and heal the sick, yet you cannot see that because your minds are closed.” Jesus goes on to say that appearances, the outsides, don’t matter; what matters to God is how we treat those around us.
There are lessons for us in this brief passage: don’t judge on appearances, don’t obsess about rules, but remember that what matters to God is our treatment of the powerless in our society. Today (Oct 12) is the commemoration of Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker in the early 1800s who went with great courage into the dreadful prisons of England, to take comfort, clothing, and food to the prisoners. Society at the time called itself Christian, but left prisoners living in appalling conditions, exposed to abuse by gaolers and other prisoners, children in with adults, written off as the scum of society. Elizabeth Fry took Jesus’ words seriously, and worked tirelessly to improve conditions for prisoners.
What is the equivalent for us today, where the outside is polished and clean, but the inside is rotten?
O God, enlarge my heart that it may be big enough to receive the greatness of your love.
Stretch my heart that it may take into it all those who do not know him, but who are my responsibility because I know him.
And stretch it that it may take in all those who are not lovely in my eyes, and whose hands I do not want to touch; through Jesus Christ, my saviour, Amen