31Oct 31st October. Friday of Week 30

First Reading: Philippians 1:1-11

(Paul longs and prays for the spiritual good of his converts)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God every time I remember you,constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you,because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insightto help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless,having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel: Luke 14:1-6

(While at dinner, Jesus ignored the Sabbath curfew and cured a man from dropsy, which scandalised some.)

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” And they could not reply to this.


The Loving Response

Loving responses are clear in these Scriptures: the warm affection of Paul for the Philippians and the loving mercy of Jesus for the ailing man, despite the spying tactics of his critics. Paul writes affectionately to the Christians at Philippi, certainly his favourite church. The words ramble on without restraint, an unusual style for a public letter. “I think of you constantly. I hold all of you dear. I long for each of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Paul was not just some Stoical ascetic, an argumentative theologian and administrator. He was much more, even if those traits do at times appear. As a warm-hearted person, he could not be phlegmatic to other people. But even in such a warm letter, he keeps up his concern for the spread of the gospel. These words express this relationship very well: “I give thanks to my God .. for the way you have all helped promote the gospel from the very first day.”

While today’s gospel ends as a “conflict story,” we should not overlook the love and confidence between the two people central to the scene: Jesus and the man with dropsy. What hope and prayer must have filled the sick man’s mind, as he sat there in silence. No words are recorded from him as Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” Luke adds, “At this they kept silent,” but the silence was loaded with feeling. Jesus was risking his reputation in the eyes of the most powerful people in Judaism, for the sake of an unnamed sick man, who is quickly lost to sight after he was cured. He healed him and sent him on his way. Jesus did not attempt to profit from his love or from his miracle. Like him we must always try to love, even when surrounded by confrontation.