Friday of Week 29 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 12:54-59

Here we have two inter-related pieces of advice from Jesus. It is striking how simple and down to earth are the examples which Jesus uses to illustrate his teaching.

Today, he takes the common phenomenon of the farmer reading the sky to forecast the weather. With experience, one can become very accurate, at least in short-term, forecasting from observing the colour and shape of the clouds, the direction and strength of the wind and so on. The wind from the west came from the Mediterranean and so brought rain. The south wind blew from the desert and so brought hot weather.

First, Jesus asks his listeners, if they are so good at reading the weather signs, why are they not equally good at reading the signs that are taking place before their very eyes? They were now in the messianic age. Jesus has been performing one sign after another through the power of his teaching and the authority that he brings, through the healing of the sick, the feeding of the hungry, the calming of storms, the liberating of people from evil forces…

Yet, they do not seem to be able to see the clear hand of God in what he does. They follow him with curiosity to see what they may be able to get for themselves, but very few commit themselves to following him as disciples.

Second, he asks them why they do not judge for themselves what is right? He urges them to solve issues here and now instead of dragging their opponents to court only to find they lose the case and end up in jail.

If that is wise advice in everyday life, how much more important to be ready when we come to face the Judge of judges? If we do not settle our affairs now, in the future it may be too late. Linking this with what has already been said, it is time for us to read the clear signs of God’s call coming through Jesus and to respond by a change of heart and behaviour (Greek, metanoia). Then, with no evidence to incriminate us, we will have nothing to fear from the Judge on that day of reckoning and accounting.

Bringing all this down to a more earthly level we might say that in our own time, we live in an age that is litigation-crazy. In many situations, both sides often end up the losers (but not their lawyers!). The bitter aftermath can last for years.

There may be times when recourse to a court is the only way to see justice done, but very often, disputes are best worked out between the parties involved. For many, the pain of marriage breakdowns can be vastly increased by litigation, and can be a source of long-lasting bitterness, especially where the arguments are over large – or even small – amounts of property.

As Christians, we need to develop a real sense of justice in the sense of wanting the best for all concerned. Forgiveness and reconciliation should be a high priority for us. There should be no place in our lives for sheer vindictiveness or, perhaps worse, simply a desire to make a lot of money.

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