THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE
Lesson 10: Chapter 12-13
The Journey to Jerusalem Continues

Heavenly Father,
Help us to have the courage to come to You humbly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to make a complete confession of our all of our sins. We know that there is no reason to attempt to hide our sins from You, for You know all things "all things in heaven and all things on earth, including the true intent of each individual for good and for evil. Nothing is hidden from You. In trusting You to be merciful and to forgive us our sins, we declare our love and obedience to You. We know that the confession of a repentant sinner is precious to You and that You hate the hypocrisy of pretended righteousness. Give us the true heart of an Apostle that we may avoid the false heart of a self-righteous Pharisee. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Therefore, the wisdom of God said, I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute' 50 in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the Temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Luke 11:49-51

Luke chapters 12-13 are divided into three sections:

  1. Luke 12:1-13:9 ~ Jesus teaching the disciples and the crowd in a continuous discourse immediately after His dinner at the home of the Pharisee in chapter 11.
  2. Luke 13:10-21 ~ Jesus teaching on the Sabbath about the mercy of God and the growth of the coming Kingdom.
  3. Luke 13:22-35 ~ Jesus' teaching the crowds as He continues His journey to Jerusalem.

In the last chapter, Jesus was invited to dine at the home of a Pharisee. Knowing the critical thoughts of His host and the other Pharisees and Scribes who were present, Jesus used the occasion to deliver a scathing six part indictment on the spiritual condition of the Pharisees and scribes. In His sixth "woe" judgment against His dinner companions (11:49-51), He made a prophetic statement by citing "the Wisdom of God" (Himself) and tying the fate of God's messengers in the present (Jesus and His disciples and Apostles) to the fate of the prophets in the past, thereby anticipating His persecution and martyrdom and the persecution and martyrdom of God's messengers who will follow Him (see quote above). At the end of Jesus' scathing condemnation of the Pharisees and scribes at the banquet in chapter 11, the angry Pharisees and scribes were even more determined to find the evidence to condemn Jesus (11:52-53). Jesus leaves the home of the Pharisee and proceeds to speak to His disciples and the crowd that has gathered. This is the beginning of one continuous discourse delivered by Jesus in which the focus is on trust in God, courage when faced with crisis, and the inevitability of an eschatological judgment (Lk 12:1-13:9).

Luke 12:1 ~ The leaven of the Pharisees
1 Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. He began to speak, first to his disciples, "beware of the leaven "that is, the hypocrisy "of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret
The word translated "leaven" or "yeast" in some translations is the Greek word zyme, a lump of sour dough used as a leavening agent.

St. Luke begins chapter 12 by linking Jesus' next teaching to the events at the banquet and Jesus' judgment of the Pharisees and Scribes.

  1. St. Luke sets the time of the next event to show the association with the last event in the previous passage by opening with the word "meanwhile" (literally "at that time" in the Greek text).
  2. Jesus' characterization of the Pharisees and Scribes as "hypocrites" is a concise summary of His indictment against them at the banquet in the previous part of the narrative.

Notice how St. Luke heightens the drama of this next part of the narrative by describing the crowd. In the literal Greek translation the passage reads that there were "tens of thousands" in the crowd trampling one another underfoot. The size and condition of the crowd gives the impression of being threatening. Turning to His disciples, Jesus' summarizes the condition of the Pharisees and Scribes and the danger they pose to others.
Question:
To what does Jesus compare "leaven" in verse 1? What is the comparison in Mt 16:12.
Answer: In Matthew 16:12 the "leaven" of the Pharisees is identified as their false teaching. In Luke 12:1 the "leaven" is identified as their "hypocrisy."

There is no contradiction between the accounts in the two Gospels. Jesus has already condemned the Pharisees for the hypocrisy of their teaching versus their actions in 11:40-51.

Jesus' use of "leaven" is an interesting comparison to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The key is that leaven induces fermentation which is a form of corruption. In Scripture leaven is used as both a positive and a negative example. Leavened bread was permitted to be eaten in the communal meal of the Toda "thanksgiving offering" (Lev 7:13) and for the "first fruits" of the wheat harvest (Lev 23:17). Jesus uses leaven as a positive example in His teaching on the growth of the Kingdom (Mt 13:33; Lk 13:20-21). But it is used as a negative example in this passage and as it is used it in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 where St. Paul teaches that Christ, the true Pascal Lamb, destroys the old leaven of sin and makes possible a holy life of which unleavened bread is the symbol (also see Gal 5:9). It is the reason Latin Rite Catholics use unleavened bread in their offering for the Eucharist while the Eastern Rites use leavened bread. The rejection of leaven as a symbol for sin is also found in the Old Testament prohibitions and commands of the Law. For example leavened bread was prohibited in sacrifices that were burned on God's holy altar (Lev 2:4). It was also prohibited during the celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in which leaven was a viewed as a sign of the corrupting influence of evil on human nature and a symbol for sin which can easily multiply and spread through God's holy community.

Question: What was the command concerning leaven during the Feast of Unleavened Bread? See Ex 12:15, 18-20; 13:6-10.
Answer: During the seven days of the feast, all traces of leaven were to be removed from the houses of the covenant people.

All leaven, including any old bread containing leaven, was to be removed from the houses of the covenant people and no leaven products were to be consumed for a period from noon on the day of the Passover sacrifice until the completion of the feast of Unleavened Bread at the conclusion of the Sacred Assembly on the 21st of Nisan ( Mishnah: Pesahim, 1:3-1:4; 10:1A). Leaven, zyme in the Greek text, is an old piece of sour dough used for its fermenting properties that is in fact a form of corruption of the original piece of dough. Leaven in bread is good in itself, but it works by a process of fermentation that affects the whole batch of the new dough. When the sour zyme is added into a new batch of dough, it "corrupts" the entire batch in a process that produces a light and airy loaf of bread when baked. In Scripture leaven is a natural symbol for a source of corruption that becomes all pervasive. Jesus' point is that in the same way that leaven affects the entire batch of dough, the corrupt teaching and bad example of the Pharisees and scribes can affect the people "the disciples must guard against their bad example so that they too do not become corrupted.

Luke 12:2-9 ~Jesus' call for courage in proclaiming Christ and courage under persecution
2"There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. 4 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. 5 I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after [the] killing has the power to cast you into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. 7 Even the hairs of your head have been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. 8 I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God."
[..] =
literal translation IBGE vol. IV, page 201 = "the killing").

In a series of sayings, Jesus offers both warnings and encouragement. In the first series of sayings, each saying is a doublet (verses 2-3) that contains a warning:

concealed --> revealed
secret --> will be known
said in the darkness --> heard in the light
whispered behind closed doors --> proclaimed on the housetops

Question: What is Jesus' point?
Answer: Nothing can be hidden from God and in the "end" (divine judgment) what was attempted to be kept hidden will come to light.

Question: How should what Jesus teaches in verses 2-3 be applied to our confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Answer: We should be fearless and forthcoming in our confessions because, since nothing can be hidden from God, we might as well reveal all our sins without reservation.

In the next section of sayings (verses 4-8), Jesus addresses His disciples as "friends" and counsels them to be fearless in conduct when faced with persecution, even if their persecution leads to martyrdom (verses 4-5).

Question: Who is "the one" of whom the disciples should be more afraid than the ones who can inflict physical harm or death? Also see Mt 10:28.
Answer: Physical death cannot separate us from the love of God, but spiritual death "being cast into the Hell of the eternally damned (Gehenna) "will separate us from God forever. Rather than fearing man they should fear offending God who has the power over eternal life and death.

Verse 5 does not refer to Satan or to Christ but to God. We are not told to fear Satan but to resist him. Scripture, however, counsels us to fear God (Fitzmyer, page 959). In the Pentateuch Moses repeatedly warned the people to fear offending God (i.e., Lev 25:17, 36, 43; Dt 4:10; 6:13, 6:24; 10:12, 20; 13:4; 14:23; 31:12-13), and the same warning is found in the New Testament concerning fear of God and His impartial divine judgment (Acts 9:31; Rom 11:20 ("awe" can also be translated "fear"); 2 Cor 7:1; Phil 2:12; 1 Pt 1:17 ("reverence" can also be translated "fear"); 2:17; Rev 14:7). The Psalmist advises us: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it ... (Ps 111:10; repeated in Prov 9:10), and the angel announcing the everlasting good news to those who dwell on earth in Revelation 14:7 warns: Fear God and give him glory, for his time has come to sit in judgment. Worship him who made heaven and earth and sea and springs of water.

Question: What is eternal death called in Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8 and why?
Answer: It is called the "second death." The first death is our physical death.

Question: The two kinds of death stand in contrast to what two kinds of birth? See Jn 3:3, 5.
Answer: The first is our physical birth and the second is our birth in water and the Spirit in the Sacrament of Christian baptism.

Jesus uses the word "Gehenna" for the Hell of the damned "the abode of Satan and his fallen angels. This is not to be confused with Hades in the Greek which is Sheol in the Hebrew, the abode of the dead before the Resurrection of Christ.(1)

Jesus continues His discourse by giving two examples to encourage the disciples followed by a promise and a warning:

Question: What are the two examples?
Answer: Example #1: even the lives of lowly sparrows, sold in the marketplace as very inexpensive food, does not escape the notice of God (verses 6)

Example #2 : God's knowledge of us is so intimate that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads (verse 7).

Question: What is the promise and what is the warning in verses 7b-9 and what will be the role of the angels? See Mt 24:31, CCC 333.
Answer: The promise: We are more precious to God than sparrows, so we do not be afraid. The warning: If we do not acknowledge our allegiance to Christ before other men and women but deny Him, then He will also deny us when we face our individual judgments before God's heavenly throne in the presence of the angels who are members of the heavenly court and who will serve at the Last Judgment.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of eternal life with the full right to pass judgment on the works and hearts of those who belong to Him by their professed belief in Him as their personal Redeemer and Redeemer of the world. In His First Advent He did not come to judge but to save (Jn 3:17; 5:26). However, in His Second Advent He will return to judge the world. Those who rejected God's divine grace in this life have already condemned themselves by rejecting Christ and God's spirit of love (see Mt 3:12; 13:41-43; Lk 3:17; CCC 678-79).

Luke 12:10-12 ~ Concerning the Holy Spirit and the unforgivable sin
10 "Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."

Jesus assures the disciples that there is no limit to His mercy, but anyone who stubbornly refuses to accept His mercy by repenting his sins rejects His forgiveness and God's gift of grace offered by the call of the Holy Spirit. This demonstration of the deliberate rejection of God's gift of salvation up to and including the end of one's earthly life can lead to the loss of eternal salvation (see CCC 1287, 1864 and John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 46).

Luke 12:13-21 ~ A warning against the sin of greed (The Parable of the Rich Fool)
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." 14 He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" 15 Then he said to the crowd, Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." 16 Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. 17 He asked himself, What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?' 18 And he said, This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods 19 and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!" 20 But God said to him, You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?' 21 Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God."

A man seeks Jesus' intervention in a family dispute over inheritance, but Jesus denies his request because that is not His mission. There were courts of law set up to deal with such issues. Instead, He offers a teaching on the dangers of greed and a warning that material possessions do not define what is really important in life. The contrast in His teaching is between those like the rich man in the parable who only defines "riches" in the material sense with no thought to his eternal condition as opposed the others who focus on pleasing God and the promise of an eternal reward. The parable is related to Jesus' earlier teaching on the importance of fearing God "the One who will deliver one's final judgment. The rich fool does not fear God.

Question: What kind of "life" is Jesus referring to?
Answer: The essence of a person cannot be defined by his material goods but rather by the person's words and deeds.

Then too, temporal life is fleeting "it is the works of righteousness that are written in the Book of Deeds and count toward eternal life that really matters. It is on the richness of those acts that one's life will be judged (Rev 20:11-12).

Question: In the parable, why does God call the rich man a fool?
Answer: In his selfishness and greed the man amassed a material abundance that was of no value to him when he died. If he had used his abundance of material wealth to help the poor, his good deeds would have followed him into eternity and would have advanced the cause of his salvation.

Luke 12:22-34 ~ Trusting in the providence of God
22 He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! 25 Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? 26 If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toll or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. 28 If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 29 As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. 30 All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. 32 Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. 34 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Jesus continues with a commentary on the Parable of the Rich Fool urging the disciples not to worry excessively about earthly things.

Question: Jesus tells His disciples to be free of worries using what three examples?
Answer: God takes care of the ravens, the lilies, and grasses of the field, yet the disciples are more important than these.

He uses the example of ravens (verse 24); they were unclean birds which the Jews were not allowed to eat (Lev 11:15; Dt 14:14), but God still cares about them. Just as the birds and other parts of nature exist by God's providence, we should trust God in the same way. His point is that the disciples need a priority of values, which is made clear in verses 30-34. They are not to behave like the pagans who run after the material "their focus must be on the spiritual. That is not to say that Jesus is telling the disciples that they shouldn't continue to work and care for their families "He says in verse 30 that "your Father knows that you need" these material things. His teaching is that excessive worry about what will happen tomorrow shows lack of faith in God's providence. He does not mean that we should ignore our earthly responsibilities to earn a living and care for those who depend on us.

Question: How do we know this is what Jesus did not mean? See 2 Thes 3:10-16.
Answer: The leaders of the church at Thessalonica were having a problem with people within the community who were not doing their fair share of the work. When Paul was there, he issued the order that if someone didn't work that person couldn't eat the community's food, and he urged the church leaders to continue to be firm in admonishing those who were neglectful of their duties.

Earlier Jesus referred to the disciples as His "friends" and now He calls them His "little flock" (verse 32). They are the heirs of the Kingdom and the faithful remnant of Israel that will become the seed from which the Kingdom will grow to claim dominion over the earth. He challenges them in verses 33-34 to make a radical choice and to cast their lives completely into God's hands by selling all they have in order to store up an "inexhaustible treasure in heaven." In Matthew 19:29 He told them that if they were willing to give up everything to follow Him, their reward would be greater than what they gave up and now in Luke's Gospel He offers them that choice. There is probably an echo in verse 32 of the Prophet Daniel's prophecy in Daniel 7:27: Then the kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, whose kingdom shall be everlasting: all dominions shall serve and obey him.

Luke 12:35-40 ~ Parables on being ready for the Master's return
35 "Gird your loins and light your lamps 36 and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. 38 And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. 39 Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."

Still addressing the disciples, Jesus changes the topic from concern about earthy possessions to a warning to the disciples about being watchful and faithful servants.

Question: How are watchfulness and fidelity related to the previous teaching?
Answer: The previous teaching was about not concentrating the focus of one's life on the material. Now He says that the focus in this life should be on fidelity to Jesus and being ready for His return.

To "gird" one's self expresses the condition of wearing a sash or belt to tuck up the long tunic so as to be ready for action. It can also mean readiness for service (Fitzmyer, page 987).

Question: Jesus' instruction to the disciples is similar to what instruction Moses was told to give the Israelites at the first Passover? See Ex 12:11, 22-23.
Answer: It is similar to the instruction given the Israelites at the first Passover to be in readiness for a hasty departure from Egypt.

Question: To what does Jesus compare Himself in the first parable?
Answer: He compares Himself to a master returning at an unknown hour from a wedding.

Luke 12:38 And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. In Jesus' time the daytime was divided into 12 seasonal hours (Jn 11:9) and the night into 4 night watches. The 2nd Watch was from 9 PM to midnight and the 3rd Watch was from midnight to 3 AM. The trumpet that announced the change of the watch at 3 AM was called "the cockcrow" (Mk 13:35 lists the names of the four Watches).

Question: If they are vigilant what is their blessing? What about the Master's return to the vigilant servants is a contradiction?
Answer: Instead of the servants waiting on the Master, the Master waits on the servants at a banquet in His house as a reward for their vigilance.

Jesus will identify Himself at the Last Supper as the one who serves: "Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves" (Lk 22:26-27, underlining added).

Question: What are the symbolic elements of the parable? Who is the master, the servants, the house, the wedding and the banquet? See Rev 19:6-9.
Answer:

The master Jesus
The servants The disciples
The master's house The Church
The wedding The wedding supper of the Lamb prepared in heaven
The banquet the master prepares for the servants The eschatological banquet in the heavenly kingdom in which all of the Master's servants of every age will take part

There are several eschatological overtones to this parable. For the first time Jesus gives a shadowy allusion to His departure from the earth and His delay in returning. Later, at the Last Supper in the Gospel of St. John, the disciples will learn that He must return to the Father for a time (Jn 13:33-14:3), and at His Ascension the angels promise His return at an unknown time (Mt 24:36-44; Acts 1:11).

In the second very short parable (verse 39) Jesus speaks of the suddenness of a burglar breaking into an unguarded house and compares that event to the sudden return of the Son of Man at the end of the age. When the Son of Man suddenly returns in His glory it will be to gather all people of all nations of the earth for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Last Judgment "some will be prepared like the faithful and vigilant servants of the Masters house (the Church), but many people of the world will be unaware and unprepared (CCC 366, 998, 1001, 1038, 1038-1041, Mt 25:31-46; Jn 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; 1 Thes 4:16; 2 Thes 1:5-10

Luke 12:41-48 ~ A warning for Peter, the Apostles, and the future leaders of the Church
41 Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone? 42 And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 45 But if that servant says to himself, "My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 47 That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; 48 and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

A steward was the Master's chief servant and exercised the Master's power and authority over the other servants. He was responsible for everything in the Master's house and kept the keys to every door. In the description of the authority of Eliakim, the steward of the King of Judah, Isaiah writes: I shall place the key of David's palace on his shoulder; when he opens, no one will close, when he closes, no one will open. I shall drive him like a nail into a firm place; and he will become a throne of glory for his family (Is 22:22-23). When Simon-Peter was invested as Jesus' chief Steward/Vicar Jesus told him: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16:19-20).

Question: What is the answer to Peter's question to Jesus in verse 41? Who is the steward Jesus refers to in verse 42? See Mt 16:13-20.
Answer: The teaching is meant for them. Peter is the steward.

Question: What is Jesus' question to Peter in verse 42 and what is the answer? When have the apostles distributed food? See Mt 14:13-21; 15:32-38; Mk 6:32-44; Lk 9:10-17.
Answer: Jesus asked Peter who is the faithful and prudent steward put in charge of distributing the food allowance at the proper time? The answer is Peter, the Apostles and the future chief stewards (the Popes) and the other servants/priests of the Church who will be responsible for distributing the holy food of the Eucharist in the celebration of the Mass just as the Apostes distributed the food in the miracle feedings of the 5 thousand and 4 thousand which prefigured the miracle feeding of the Eucharist.

45 But if that servant says to himself, "My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. Drunkenness is one of the signs of the O.T. prophets symbolizing rebellion against God and the abuse of His blessings (see the Appendix at the end of the lesson or handout #2). These unfaithful servants in this verse are abusing the gift of the Eucharist - the food allowance that is given at the "proper time" of worship in verse 42.

In describing the fate of Jesus' servants who abuse their authority in verse 45, Jesus is using a common example of the times. His point is if it is expected that an earthly master should punish his servants for bad behavior then one should also expect that the divine Master will also punish His servants who fail in their mission by abusing their authority. Those professed servants, however, who were not fully instructed and failed in their service, will be punished less severely than those who knew better "but they will still be punished.

Question: What does that warning mean put in the context of the modern Church?
Answer: The judgment will be more severe for the servants/leaders of the Church who fail because they have knowledge of the fullness of faith and know what is expected by the divine Master.

The presupposition in these sayings in verses 47-48 is that those who are instructed by the Master with tasks in His household will also be given the ability to carry them out, so no excuse will be tolerated.

Luke 12:49-53 ~ Jesus: His mission a cause of division
49 "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! 50 There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, rather division. 52 From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 a father will be divided against his son and a son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her daughter-in-law."

In a series of teachings on His ministry in verses 36-40, 43 and 45-46, Jesus made symbolic references to the "coming of the master," a "burglar" and the "Son of Man." Now He speaks openly about His own coming in verses 49 and 51.

In verse 49 Jesus tells the disciples that He has come to set the earth on fire! In the Old Testament, fire is sometimes used as a means or symbol of purification (Lev 13:52; Num 31:23; Mal 3:2-3;), of discernment (Jer 23:29; Is 33:14), as a symbol of judgment (Gen 19:24; Ex 9:24; Ps 66:12; Is 43:2; Is 66:15-16; Lk 3:9; 9:54) and a manifestation of the presence of God (Ex 3:2; 13:21-22). St. John the Baptist told the Jews that the Messiah was coming with the Holy Spirit and fire (Lk 3:16). In Scripture, fire is one of the most expressive symbols of the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit (CCC 696; Acts 2:1-4). In this case the fire Jesus speaks of can either be the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, or it is the refining and purifying fire that Jesus will light in His death and Resurrection that will ignite and transform the New Covenant people of God and bring about the Kingdom of heaven on earth.

Question: However, what warning does He give concerning His coming in verse 51?
Answer: His Gospel message will not unify. His message that is met with either acceptance or rejection will be a source of conflict and division for the Old Covenant people even within families.

Question: What is the baptism by which Jesus must be baptized in verse 50?
Answer: His death on the Cross for the sins of mankind.

Luke 50b... and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! The Greek word can also be translated "fulfilled," "finished," or "completed."

Question: When will Jesus announce that "it is accomplished/fulfilled"? See Mt 5:17-18; Jn 19:28-30.
Answer: Just before He gives up His life on the altar of the Cross.

The word "baptism" in verse 50 means "immersion" and was a part of Old Covenant ritual purification. When St. John baptized people in the Jordan River, he immersed them in the water as they symbolically died to their sins and then arose from the water restored and purified.

Question: How is "immersion/baptism" symbolically demonstrated in His death on the Cross?
Answer: Jesus calls His death on the Cross a "baptism" because He will fall into physical death, but He will arise victorious never to die again!

Question: What is the comparison to Christian baptism? See Rom 6:4.
Answer: In the Sacrament of Christian baptism we are immersed in Christ's death as we die to sin and are raised up to a new life of victorious grace.

Christ opened the fountain of Baptism to all men and women in His self-sacrificial offering on the altar of the Cross. "The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist" and become "the sacraments of new life" in which Christians are "born from water and the Spirit" in order to be purified to become sons and daughters of God and citizens of the Kingdom of God (CCC 1225; Jn 3:3-5; 19:34).

Luke 12:54-59 ~ On recognizing the signs of the times
54 He also said to the crowds, "when you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain "and so it does; 55 and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot "and so it is. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

57 Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. 59 I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

For the first time in His discourse, Jesus turns His attention to the crowds. He upbraids them for their attention to insignificant things like the weather. They know the signs in the sky that mean rain is coming or predict the coming of the hot desert winds, but they ignore the signs written in the books of the prophets that predict the coming of the Messianic Era "signs that are being preached and fulfilled by Jesus. They should recognize these signs and realize that judgment is near but they have closed their minds and hearts to the light of the Gospel.

Question: What warning does Jesus give the people?
Answer: They need to settle their earthly affairs because divine judgment is coming and an accounting will be made in which no one will be exempt.

It is interesting that Jesus is not speaking of Gehenna where there is no release but of Sheol "usually referred to as "prison" (see 1 Pt 3:19). The warning appears to be to those who will die between the time of His discourse and His descent to Sheol after He is placed in His tomb. Those souls will suffer punishment for their sins but will be "released" (verse 59) when Jesus, having paid the price of their redemption on the Cross, preaches the Gospel of salvation to them (CCC 632, 634-35).

Luke 13:1-5 ~ A call to repentance
1 At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. 2 He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? 3 By no means! I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! 4 Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them "do you thing they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? 5 By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

There is no historical record of the two incidents mentioned in verses 1 and 4 outside of the Gospel of St. Luke. The "Pilate" mentioned in verse 1 is Pontus Pilate the Roman governor of Samaria and Judea (26-36 AD). That he was the cause of the massacre suggests the Galileans had come to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices at the Temple and were perhaps involved in some protest against Roman rule. The second tragedy also took place in Jerusalem at a tower near the ritual purification pool of Siloam.(2) However, Jesus' teaching is clear: the personal sins of the victims were not the immediate cause of either of the tragedies (also see Jesus' teaching in John 9:3). Jesus asks the crowd to view such tragedies as providential invitations for continual conversion by examining one's own life and relationship to God and responding with humble repentance for one's own sins. One never knows when a similar tragedy can claim one's life. In that case, there is no longer the opportunity to repent and make one's life right with God before one has to face God's divine judgment and give a final accounting for one's sins.

Luke 13:6-9 ~ The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
6 And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard [ampelon = vineyard], and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, 7 he said to the gardener [ampelourgos = vinedresser/pruner], For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?" 8 He said to him in reply, Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; 9 it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"

Jesus continues with His message on the importance of repentance in verses 1-5 with a story about God's patience with those who have not yet given evidence of repentance (verses 3 and 8) together with a warning about the inevitability of divine judgment in His parable about the barren fig tree. The vine or fig tree was one of the reoccurring symbolic images of the prophets and represented God's covenant people Israel.

Question: What is the symbolism in this parable? See the appendix at the end of the lesson and the chart on the "Symbolic Images of the Old Testament Prophets."
Answer: In the symbolic images of the Old Testament prophets, a fruitful fig tree represents Israel in covenant unity and fidelity with God, but an unfruitful fig tree represents Israel's covenant failure in her mission to serve God and to produce the "good fruit" of her service.

The fig tree God's Old Covenant people "the Jews
the orchard The holy land of Israel
The owner of the orchard God
The vinedresser Jesus

The fig tree is the only fruit bearing tree named in Eden (Gen 3:7). The fruitful fig tree was a sign of the good things promised the covenant people in the Promised Land (Dt 8:8). Proverbs 27:18 advises that the person who produces good "fruit" in his life will be blessed by God: He who tends a fig tree eats its fruit, and he who is attentive to his Master will be enriched. And the prophet Jeremiah compared an Israel under the curse of divine judgment to a fruitless fig tree: I shall put an end to them, Yahweh declares, no more grapes on the vine, no more figs on the fig tree only withered leaves ... (Jer 8:13 NJB)

In Jesus' parable the owner of an orchard complains to his vinedresser that for three years the tree has failed to produce fruit and tells the vinedresser to cut it down. The vinedresser urges the owner to leave it for just a little while longer so he can fertilize it in hope that it will begin producing fruit. However, if it still failed to bear fruit, then he will cut it down (Lk 13:6-9). A parable is a symbolic story that presents a teaching using familiar events or circumstances. Symbolically, God is the owner of the orchard in the parable. The orchard is the holy land God gave His covenant people and can be compared to the garden in Eden that God gave Adam and Eve, which was also an orchard (Gen 2:8-9). The fig tree is Israel/the covenant people, and Jesus is the vinedresser who asks for a little longer to bring the tree to bear "fruit." You may recall that the children of Israel were not owners of the holy land but were tenants on God's land (Lev 25:23) who could be dispossessed of the land if they were disobedient to God's covenant and followed the ways of their pagan neighbors (Dt 8:18-20).

The reference to the three years the vinedresser has worked with the tree may refer to three as a number of importance, usually signifying some significant event in salvation history, or it may be a reference to the three years Jesus has spent calling the covenant people to bear the good fruit of repentance and to recognize Him as the promised Messiah. They have failed to bear "good fruit" but the vinedresser (Jesus) asks the Master (God) for a little more time.

In this episode, during His final journey to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51), Jesus is making His last attempts to call the covenant people to repentance and for them to acknowledge Him as the promised Messiah. If they do not bear the "fruit" of repentance and accept their mission to carry the Gospel message of salvation to the Gentiles (Is 66:18-21), it will be time to cut down the barren fig tree that is Old Covenant Israel (see Jesus curse judgment on the "fig tree" on Monday of His last week in Jerusalem in Mt 21:18-19 and Mk 11:12-14). It will then be time for the New Covenant prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah to be established (Jer 31:31-34; Lk 22:20; Heb 10:16).(3)

Just prior to His Ascension, Jesus will command a faithful remnant of the new Israel (Apostles and disciples) to take the New Covenant Gospel message of salvation in Christ Jesus to the "ends of the earth" "to the Gentile nations of the world (Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). The Old Covenant came to a final end 40 years after Jesus' Ascension in 70 AD when the Jews revolted against Rome and the Roman army destroyed the Jerusalem Temple. From that time forward, the commands and ordinances of the Old Covenant for liturgical sacrifices and worship could no longer be observed. It was only the New Covenant universal Church that continued to offer priests, altars, sacrifice, incense and the sacred meal of communion that unites the people of God.

Jesus' teaching to the disciples and the crowd is concluded with the parable of the fruitless fig tree. These next series of events in 13:12-21 take place on the Sabbath.

Luke 13:10-17 ~ The cure of a crippled woman
10 He was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. 11 And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity." 13 He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. 14 But the leader of the Synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, "There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the Sabbath day." 15 The Lord said to him in reply, "Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? 16 This daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?" 17 When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

Jesus again gives His authoritative teaching on the interpretation of the Law in which mercy and compassion take precedence over a rigid interpretation that was never part of the Law. Jesus sees a woman crippled by a demon, and in His compassion He heals her on the Sabbath. Apparently demons can affect a person spiritually, mentally and physically, and the Bible presents affliction and disease as evidence of Satan's hold on humanity. Jesus' act of mercy is condemned by the president of the Synagogue as an act that breaks the commandment to "rest" from all labor on the Sabbath. He forbids the people to seek out healing on the Sabbath.

Question: What example does Jesus give to show that the statement of the president of the Synagogue is ridiculous?
Answer: It was the common practice to untie domesticated animals and to water them on the Sabbath. Animals can quickly become ill if deprived of water for too long a time. Jesus condemns men like the leader of the Synagogue as hypocrites for saying is it allowable under the Law to show mercy to animals and not to humans.

Jesus' healing of this "daughter of Abraham" is also symbolic of His desire to heal the children of Israel who are Abraham's descendants from the power of Satan and to restore the Jews to a healthy spiritual relationship with God. It is only through the rebirth of the new Israel of the Church that the descendants of Abraham will become the heirs of the covenant promises God made to their ancestor (Gal 3:29).

The next two parables illustrate the promised future growth of the Kingdom of God that will result from its small beginnings.

Luke 13:18-19 ~ The Parable of the Mustard Seed
18Then he said, What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.'"

Jesus compares the tiny mustard seed with its plant in full growth. A mustard tree could only grow as high as 8-12 feet.

Question: What contrast is Jesus making between the mustard seed and the Kingdom He has come to establish?
Answer: The contrast is between the small beginnings of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and its future expansion when it will encompass the whole earth.

When the Kingdom has grown to spread to every corner of the earth, it will shelter all who come to dwell in the household of Jesus that is the Church (Mt 28:19; Acts 1:8). The allusion to the kingdom becoming so large that "birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches" is a reference to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in which he saw a huge tree that sheltered "birds of the sky" and other animals (Dan 4:7). Daniel interpreted the tree and the animals to represent Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom and the many different peoples over whom he ruled. The comparison is that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ will be even greater than the Kingdom of the Babylonians (also see Dan 9:17-19).

Luke 13:20-21 ~ The Parable of the Yeast
20 Again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like yeast [leaven] that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

This is one of the two times Jesus uses leaven as a positive symbol. In Luke 12:1 He used it as a negative image as leaven is often used in Scripture to represent sin (i.e., Ex 12:15, 19; 13:7; Mt 16:6; 1 Cor 5:6-8). As mentioned previously, leaven is a fermenting agent that, when mixed with flour into a dough, causes the dough to rise and expand.

Question: What is the comparison Jesus is making in the parable?
Answer: Just as a little bit of leaven can cause an amount to dough to expand to a much greater size, so will the teaching of the Gospel of salvation cause the kingdom to expand from its small beginning to become much greater in size.

... with three measures of wheat flour
Three is always a significant number in Scripture, symbolizing perfection, completeness, and often an important event in salvation history. Three measures of wheat flour is a huge amount of flour and could produce enough bread to feed over a hundred people (Jeremias, Parables of Jesus, page 147). This parable, like the Parable of the Mustard Seed, illustrates the same point "the promised amazing growth of the Kingdom from its small beginnings.

This is the beginning of part two of St. Luke's travel account of Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem (Lk 13:22-17:10).

Luke 13:22-30 ~ Jesus' teaching on following the narrow gate/door
22 He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. 25 After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, I do not know where you are from.' 26 And you will say, We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' 27 Then he will say to you, I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' 28 And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

From the beginning of God's relationship with man, through the gift of free will, man has always had the choice between two paths or two gates/doors: to travel the way of obedience to God or to go one's own way. Moses spoke of the two ways in his last homily to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:15-20 in choosing the path of life in obedience to the commandments of the Lord or the path that leads to death, and the Psalmist wrote: The LORD watches over the Way of the Just, but the Way of the wicked leads to ruin (Ps 1:6). In fact, in the early Church, before the name "Christian" was applied to believers at the Church of Antioch in Syria, the followers of Jesus were referred to as the followers of "The Way" (Acts 9:2) and the same name was applied to Christians in the Church's early Catechism, called the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, also known as the Didache (see articles 1-6).

In this teaching there are 2 definite, inescapable choices each of us must make. The choice between:

Question: Who or what is the narrow gate/door/way? See John 10:7-9 and John 14:6.
Answer: Jesus the Messiah.

Question: How "narrow" is the way that leads to the narrow, less entered door or way? See Mt 19:24; Mk 10:25; Lk 18:25 and Jn 14:6. What does Jesus tell us about this narrow door in Luke 13:24?
Answer: For some of us it can be as narrow as the eye of a needle! In Luke 13:24 Jesus says: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough." We cannot force our way into heaven for Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6).

Question: What contrast is Jesus making in this passage? How does free will enter into our decision? What is the inescapable choice each of us must make?
Answer: Everyone must choose between two gates/doors in life; the choice is entirely ours. The wide path is the way of sin. It seems appealing at first and calls for no standard of conduct. It is the easier, and therefore the more traveled path, but it leads to eternal punishment. The other choice is the narrow gate/door and a less traveled, harder path that requires spiritual strength, but this path leads to eternal salvation.

Question: What makes the narrow gate/door only for the "strong" in verse 24? What is the faithful Christian carrying across the threshold of the narrow door that requires strength? See Mt 10:38; 16:24; Mk 8:34; 10:21; Lk 9:23 and 14:27.
Answer: He carries the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth.

Question: What is it that the righteous Christian must leave behind before passing through the narrow door? What is it that won't need or won't be helpful in crossing the threshold of the narrow door?
Answer: To cross the threshold of the narrow door, it is necessary to divest oneself of all unessential baggage. In this case divest yourself of materialism, pride, self-centeredness and hypocrisy.

Luke 13:25-27 After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, Lord, open the door for us.' [..] 27 Then he will say to you, I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!'

Question: What Old Testament event in which a closed and locked door led to divine judgment for those outside the door is recalled in this passage? Hint: see Gen 7:1, 4-5
Answer: The Great Flood judgment. The people of Noah's time heard from Noah about the coming flood and had all that time when the Ark was being built until the door was closed to repent. By the time the door was closed and locked, it was too late when the floor waters began to rise.

Question: How can the fate of those left outside the Ark in the Flood Judgment be compared to Jesus' warning?
Answer: Now is the time to repent and accept Jesus' invitation to enter the Kingdom, because the time will come when it will be too late to accept His Gospel message of salvation and pass through the narrow door, just as those who failed to believe in the time of Noah were doomed to judgment instead of grasping the gift of salvation.

Luke 13:29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. In this verse Jesus alludes to His rejection by many of the Jews and the invitation of salvation to the Gentiles who will replace them at the banquet table in the Kingdom of God.

Question: To "recline at table in the kingdom of God" suggests what banquet that the faithful will enjoy in the Kingdom?
Answer: The banquet of the Holy Eucharist in the Kingdom of heaven on earth (the Church) and at the end of the age at the heavenly banquet of the saints.

Luke 13:30 For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

Question: Who are the last who will replace those who were first?
Answer: The Gentiles, those called last, will precede those to whom the invitation to salvation was first extended, the Jews.

Luke 13:31-33 ~ Herod's animosity
31 t that time some Pharisees came to him and said, "Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you." 32 He replied, Go and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. 33 Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside Jerusalem.'

Question: What two territories did Herod Antipas control?
Answer: The Galilee in the north and Perea on the east side of the Jordan River.

Apparently Jesus is now teaching on the east side of the Jordan River in the territory of Perea. The Gospel of John records that Jesus attended the Jewish national feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in the winter of the last year of His ministry (Jn 10:22). After the festival, He crossed over into Perea (Jn 10:40). He returning to the western side of the river (to Bethany in Judea) to raise Lazarus from the dead (Jn chapter 11), and then He withdrew to a region near the Judean desert, a town called Ephraim, and remained there until the time of Passover in the early spring (11:54).

Not all the Pharisees were opposed to Jesus. Nicodemus is among those who came to believe Jesus was the Messiah (Jn 3:1; Acts 15:5). Some Pharisees may have warned Jesus that Herod Antipas, who killed John the Baptist, was a threat to Jesus' life, but Jesus' reference to Herod as the "fox" suggests that Herod sent the Pharisees to persuade Jesus to leave his territory.

In the message Jesus tells the Pharisees to give Herod Antipas, He indicates that His mission will be over soon but not yet. Jesus speaks of the "third day" and a three day period in verses 32 and 33. This is a reference that probably signifies a short period of time before Jesus' mission is completed, but it can also refer to the significant three days that will mark His Passion and the victorious climax of His mission in the city where God's prophets are destined to die.

Luke 13:34-35 ~ Jesus' lament over Jerusalem
34 Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times have I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! 35 Behold, your house will be abandoned. But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'

Jesus is speaking of God's relationship to the holy city in which He dwells as the God of Israel. Jesus speaks tenderly of how He has longed for Jerusalem's repentance and restored communion with Him but the city has resisted. The image of a mother hen gathering her young under her wings is reminiscing of those passages that refer to God in Psalms 36:8/7 (also see Dt 32:11; Ruth 2:12; Ps 57:2/1 and 61:5/4).

Question: What "house" in the "holy city" will be abandoned?
Answer: Jesus prophesies that God's house, the Jerusalem Temple, will no longer be the dwelling place of God among His people.

Jesus' prophecy was fulfilled when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and never rebuilt.(4))

Luke 13:35b But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'
In verse 35b Jesus quotes verse 26 from Psalms 118; a psalm that will be sung in the Temple at the festival of Passover:
19 Open the gates of victory; I will enter and thank the LORD. 20 This is the LORD's own gate, where the victors enter. 21 I thank you for you answered me; you have been my savior. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad. 25 LORD, grant salvation! [Hosanna!] LORD, grant good fortune! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the LORD's house. 27 The LORD is God and has given us light. Join in procession with leafy branches up to the horns of the altar (Psalm 11*:19-27, underlining added)

Question: How is this psalms fulfilled in Jesus? See Mt 21:9, 42-43; Jn 4:42; 8:12; Acts 4:10-12; Eph 2:19-22; 1 Pt 2:7; 2 Pt 1:1.
Answer: He is the "stone" the builders (Jews) rejected but He became the "cornerstone" of the new Temple of the New Covenant Church which is the Body of Christ. He was victorious in His mission "He is the "Light" of the world and the Savior of mankind. The verse Jesus' quoted will be shouted by the crowd when they see Jesus ride through the gate into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Questions for reflection or group discussion:

From the earliest years of the Church, Christians have spoken of the Eucharist as the Parousia ("coming") of Christ. Jesus speaks of His Parousia, His "coming" to His people in Luke 13:35. There is a conditional sense to this verse.

Question: Who are the "blessed" in our time that "see" Jesus when they hear verse 26 from Psalms 118? Notice that verses 26-27 in Psalms 118 have a liturgical context: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the LORD's house. The LORD is God and has given us light. Join in procession with leafy branches up to the horns of the altar (underlining added). In what liturgical context have you heard this verse?
Answer: In the celebration of Catholic Mass in the Lord's "house" that is the church, the faithful speak these same words prior to the Eucharistic procession to the altar. Then, the blessed "see"/perceive Christ who has "come" to us in the Eucharist and who is present among His people.

Question: What warning does St. Paul give in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 concerning receiving the Eucharist?
Answer: One must not receive the Eucharist unless:

  1. One is free of sin and in a state of grace (11:27-28).
  2. One believes (discerns) the consecrated bread and wine truly have become the Body and Blood of Christ. Those who do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and receive without believing are bringing divine judgment upon themselves in their unbelief (11:29).

Endnotes:

1. The word Gehenna is derived from the Hebrew ge-hinnom, which means "valley of Hinnom," also known in the Old Testament as "the valley of the son(s) of Hinnom." The valley is located west and south of the city of Jerusalem and once formed the boundary between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (Josh 15:8; 18:16; Neh 11:30). During the era of the divided kingdom it became an infamous site where some of the kings of Judah practiced child sacrifice (2 Chr 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31; 32:35). The prophet Jeremiah cursed the site and spoke of it in terms of impending judgment and destruction (Jer 7:32; 19:6). During Jesus' time it was where trash was continually burned and therefore gave a good visual image of judgment and fiery destruction. It is the only term Jesus uses to refer to the Hell of the damned (i.e. Mt 5:22, 29-30; 13:42, 50; 23:33; 25:41; Mk 9:43, 45; Lk 12:5).

2. The foundation of a round tower that was constructed circa the 2nd century BC has been discovered near the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. It is believed to be the tower Jesus mentioned.

3. It is interesting in the Isaiah 66:19 passage that it will be Gentile converts (the "fugitives" elsewhere translated as "survivors") who will carry the message of God's salvation to the Gentile nations (also see Is 45:20-25) in the most distant parts of the world. This prophecy was meant for Israel but was fulfilled by the new Israel of the universal Church founded by Christ. Jesus' servants, the New Covenant priests and deacons (Is 66:21) who were the first Jewish-Christians and the generations of Christians to follow who were, like St. Luke, Gentile-Christian converts, proclaimed God's glory among the nations of the world, calling all men and women to salvation (Is 66:19-23; Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

4. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans on the 9th of Ab in 70 AD. It was the same day that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 587/6 BC. Like the Babylonian conquest, many Jews were either killed or sold into slavery and exiled into the Gentile nations "the same Gentile nations to whom the Gospel of salvation was carried by Jesus' Apostles and disciples.

Appendix:

THE SYMBOLIC IMAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS

The reoccurring images of the Old Testament prophets are marriage, domesticated animals, the vine or fig tree, and drinking wine. Each of the symbolic image groups consist of four parts that reflect God's relationship (for good or bad) with His covenant people:

It is significant that restoration is only promised in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. The restoration in Part IV does not take place until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and is accomplished by His self-sacrificial death and victorious Resurrection.

Marriage:
Part 1: God takes Israel/the Church as His bride.
Part II: God's bride chases after other "lovers" "false gods "and becomes an adulteress.
Part III: God's wayward bride is punished "she is abandoned by her lovers.
Part IV: God takes back His repentant bride.
Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church of the New Covenant His Bride ( Mt 9:15; 25:1, 5, 6, 10; Mk 2:19-20; Lk 5:34-35; Jn 3:19, 29, Rev 19:5-9).

Domesticated animals:
Part I: Israel is like domesticated oxen that are obedient to the Master's yoke, or the sheep of His flock that obediently follow their Shepherd.
Part II: Israel becomes disobedient like oxen that refuse to bend to the yoke or sheep that stray from the fold.
Part III: God's flock is ravaged by wild animals "the Gentile nations.
Part IV: God's flock returns to the Master and He takes them back.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who rescues His flock (Mt 11:29-30; 26:31 Jesus quotes Zec 13:7; Jn 10:1-16; Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25; 5:4).

The vine or fig tree:
Part I: Israel flourishes like a well-tended vine or fig tree, bearing much fruit.
Part II: Weeds begin to grow in the vineyard, the vines bear wild grapes and the tree fails to produce good fruit.
Part III: The vineyard/fig tree is diseased and rotting.
Part IV: The Master Gardener restores the vineyard/fig tree that begins to bear good fruit again.
Jesus is the True Vine and the Cross is His sacrifice becomes the New Covenant sign of the fruitful Tree of Life that promises eternal life (Jn 15:1-5; Mt 16:24; 1 Cor 1:17-18; Eph 2:16; Col 1:19-20; Rev 22:1-5).

Drinking wine:
Part I: God provides the wine of the covenant for Israel.
Part II: Israel abuses her blessings of the wine.
Part III: Israel grows drunk on the wine of her covenant and the wine becomes a curse.
Part IV: God restores to Israel the best of the new wine in a new covenant.
Jesus provides the new wine of the new and eternal covenant "His blood in the Eucharist (Mt 26:27-28; Mk 14:23-24; Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25-26).
(Also see the chart "The Symbolic Images of the Old Testament Prophets" in the Chart section and the short study on reoccurring prophetic images of the Old Testament Prophets).

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for this lesson (*indicates Scripture is quoted or paraphrased in the citation):

Lk 12:1-3

CCC 678*

Lk 12:49

CCC 696

Lk 12:6-7

CCC 342

Lk 12: 50

CCC 536*, 607*, 1225*, 2804*

Lk 12:8-9

CCC 333*

Lk 12:59

CCC 632-35

Lk 12:10

CCC 1864*

Lk 13:15-16

582*

Lk 12:12

CCC 1287*

Lk 13:20-21

2660*

Lk 12:13

549*

Lk 13:31

575*

Lk 12:14

CCC 549*

Lk 13:33

557

Lk 12:32

CCC 764

Lk 13:35

585*

Lk 12: 35-40

CCC 2849*