Today’s readings speak to me of trust – especially the watchful, waiting, care-full listening and attentiveness that faith invites me to.
In the Gospel passage from Luke, after scathing criticism of the Pharisees in the previous verses, we read that Jesus turns his attention to his disciples. Perhaps they were expecting praise and encouragement, but what they receive is a word of admonishment, “don’t be misled by the double standards of the Pharisees”, something they have certainly heard before. “Be careful who you follow…. the Pharisees may look fine in their robes, may be eloquent in speech, knowledgeable of the law, and seem to be all about the things of God, but appearances can be deceiving.”
The disciples may have been puzzled; they were still learning about the One that Jesus knew so intimately. They may have wondered to each other… “What has he got against the Pharisees? Aren’t they dedicated religious, our spiritual leaders?” I doubt that the next few obscure declarations --that what is secret will be revealed and what is said in darkness will be heard in the light – would have helped them much. “What’s he talking about?”
But maybe later in the day, while cleansing and following ritual purity laws, or playing with their children, or conversation over a meal, Jesus’ words returned to them. “Ah, I wonder if that is what Jesus was referring to.” Maybe I need to be more careful about what I label as “good” or “holy” and more discerning of the qualities I admire in spiritual leaders. Maybe I need to take time to reflect on the impact my actions have on others – is it what I intend?
Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us also that what is important is sometimes elusive or even hidden. Abraham was “justified” …declared “good”... because of his faith. He was blessed because of his trust in the promise of God, not in his own accomplishments, however good they might be.
Autumn changes are wonderful images for reflecting on trust and goodness. As the leaves fall, we see the stark, naked beauty of tree limbs and trunks; as flowers die, skeleton shrubs remain; both reminders that what sustained and nourished life these past months of summer was hidden until now.
How does God sustain your life, and the lives of those you love, in ways that you cannot see? How does God nourish you and those you love in ways that aren’t dependent on what you “do”?
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