#1/8Turn is the reflection for February 21, 2016. How does the devil trick us? When are your friends your friends, and when are they your frienemies? Mark Kurowski reflects on a deeper Lent. Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Devil #Satan #Purpose #Mission #Prophet #SavingGodsPeople #Jesus #Priest #King
1/8 Turn: A Reflection on Luke 13:31-35
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/21/2016 The 2nd Sunday of Lent.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 13:31-35.
[Today, the Catholic readings are of the Transfiguration, which were the readings in the Protestant churches two weeks ago. We will be following the Protestant lectionary today because this passage from Luke is only found in Luke and only found on this Sunday in the lectionary.]
Beware! Beware of things that sound too good to be true. They probably are. It is not uncommon for the devil to knock you off your game when you lose focus on who you are, what your mission is, and the action you need to take.
In this 13th chapter of Luke it seems that the Pharisees have come to warn Jesus that Herod is after Jesus’ head. By this point in the Gospel of Luke, everyone is after Jesus’ head. Yet, the scene is such that Jesus is offered a warning so that he can protect himself from danger and death. The problem is that as we have seen through the whole Gospel, the Pharisees are not friends, they are frenemies in this instance. They are enemies posing as friends.
Satan often presents us with choices. They look like the logical choice, the good choice, even the choice we have always wanted. Yet, when we dig down in the details, we see that the choice is really the truth that has been turned about an 1/8 of a turn. [insert sound effect: eeet]. By appealing to our higher motives, our instincts, we can be tricked into not following the path that God wants for us.
The Pharisees, who would love to see Jesus get lost, come to him and let him know that Herod is trying to kill him. Listen to how they do it, “Get away from here! Herod wants to kill you.” Half of that statement is true. It is true that the Pharisees want Jesus to get out of there. It is also true that to most people the instinct of self-preservation would cause them to run away to save themselves. The difference between the prophets and others is that prophets don’t run away. Jonah, Jeremiah, Amos, and many other prophets have faced the music for the Lord. Jeremiah said it best,
“…within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”
Prophets have a message that must be delivered. They must fulfill their mission from God. This is why this passage is in the greater section that begins in Luke 9:51 where it says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, the city in the mountain that is the center of Jewish Worship. It is there that the sacrifices are made at the Temple and where the ultimate sacrifice will be made by Jesus himself. We often speak of Jesus as Prophet, Priest, and King. Here it is. This is the place where Jesus shows by his actions that he is a prophet.
There is no evidence that Herod is after him. There is evidence that the Pharisees want him to go. This is where Jesus then goes on the riff about Jerusalem being the place where the prophets are killed. It is true, usually the last place that wants to hear that God is calling for a new way, a faithful way, a way of renewal, is in the people who call themselves “God’s people”, “People of the Way.” So it is with the Pharisees. They want him gone. So, the answer of the Prophet Jesus to the people of the Church, the Pharisees, is this, “I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.”
The short answer: I am going to do my prophetic work. I am not leaving. I am not stopping.
Often times in life we are walking along a path that God has made for us. We are doing what we are supposed to do. We are cruising along and then, out of nowhere, our detractors, our helpers, our distractors give us a temptation to leave what it is that we were born and meant to do. When that happens, the best way to deal with Satan is for us to remember who we are and whose we are. What are the gifts that God has given us, that is, the talents we possess? What are the opportunities in our area that fit those talents? What is it that we were born to do? We should be doing it.
Some of us get way laid by the promise of money. Some of us get way laid by the promise of fame. Some of us get way laid by unfounded conviction of guilt. Some of us get way laid by the importance of being busy. There are many other ways to get way laid, but none of them have to do with our purpose. Jesus knows his purpose: he has set his face to Jerusalem. It is Jerusalem which is his destiny. It is at Jerusalem, the place of sacrifices, that he will offer himself as THE Sacrifice for all time.
Did a Pharisee offer you security of money, adulation in fame, guilty denial of your talent, or lots of work to do so that you would not do what God has given you as your path? Who are you? What is it that God is calling you to do? Follow the lead of your Prophet, Jesus. You will know that it is God’s will for you because your service will glorify God, like Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
With this, too, comes the message that “discernment” is not a landing place. It can be a place of distraction, too. Our life, lived in the flesh, calls for action. So, today, do you know your mission from God? Do you have the opportunities to do something for the advancement of the Kingdom before you? If so, then follow the lead of Jesus. Stay true to your purpose.
See your life in the context of God’s mission. Make the necessary changes so that you can follow that way. When you do, the mission of God will be completed and others will be saved. Amen.