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Plain-Speaking

Plain-Speaking

Friday, October 3, 2014 – Proper 21, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalms 102 (morning) // 107:1-32 (evening)

Hosea 10:1-15

Acts 21:37-22:16

Luke 6:12-26

As someone born in Montana, I’d much rather search for God on a hilltop than on a plain, but today’s readings are all about moving from high places onto level ground. The geography of God’s domain seeks to eliminate the vast inequalities that lift some of us up high, but leave others in the dust.

In today’s gospel, we find Jesus going “out to the mountain to pray.” But after calling his twelve apostles to him, he “came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people.” It seems that God beckons us to a mountain only to send us down to a plain. From there, Jesus preached his famous Sermon on the Plain.

In doing so, Jesus joins the many voices throughout Luke’s gospel that describe the reign of God as a place where all imbalances of money, food, happiness, and love are reversed. Mary proclaims the fall of the powerful and the rise of the lowly, fulfillment for the hungry and emptiness for the full. The spirit of Abraham tells the rich man that because he received good things in this life, he would be in agony after death, whereas the impoverished Lazarus would receive comforts in the afterlife since he did not enjoy them in his earthly life.

And Jesus tells the poor that they will possess the kingdom, and the hungry that they will be filled, and the weeping that they will laugh, and the hated and excluded that they will have a great reward. As for the rich, “you have received your consolation.” People who enjoy satiety, laughter, and admiration had better enjoy these things while they can. Someday, the situation will be reversed.

The gospel of Luke takes a rather threatening tone with those of us who take any comfort or consolation from the good things of this earth. The gospel uses this tone to make this very strong point: vast discrepancies in wealth can pull human beings so far apart that we lose the kingdom. Our task in this life is to cross the gulf between the haves and have-nots however we can, wherever we can, while we still can.

Jesus can’t put his message any more plainly than that.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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