Gospel according to St. Luke chapters 13-18 from a Paradigmatic Reader’s Point of View

Posted: January 20, 2012 in General

Luke 13: (1) Jesus and his interlocutors take ‘past’ events from Galilee and Jerusalem in order to correct their ‘present’ (vv. 1-5). Jesus’ ‘doublet/repetitive sayings’, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did” (vv. 3, 5), are rhetorical. A Paradigmatic Reader (PR) must consider the biblical narratives as ‘paradigms’ in order to correct her/his present. (2) A PR is one who bears fruits continually, well and good, and lively. A PR will never be reckoned in the ‘cut it down’ category (vv. 6-9). (3) Sabbaths/Sundays are not only set apart for the sake of dogmatization/liturgicalization of the congregations, but also for practicing the dogmas/liturgies in the public places. Theology is not merely a ‘smart guy’s play of words’; but, it is a ‘faith-constrained person’s outpouring of heart’. The activity of reading must lead a reader toward the resultant activity of ‘outpouring of positive power’. Narrator says: “…the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he (Jesus) was doing” (v. 17). Let our readings bring ‘joy’/’rejoicing’ to the people. Let our readings be resulted into liberation. ‎(4) A PR will never be a practitioner of “regionalism”, “racism” or “casteism”; but only “humanism”, “wholism” and “universalism”. Jesus says: “…people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the Kingdom of God” (v. 29). This is what “universalistic koinonia’, a replica for the Kingdom of God. A contrast: a PR is not one “who begins as ‘the first’ and ends as ‘the last’; but one who begins as ‘the last’ and ends as ‘the first'” (v. 30).

Luke 14: (1) While Pharisees and leaders of the law spend their Sabbath-times mostly within the temple/synagogues by way of dogmatization/liturgicalization, Jesus spends his Sabbath-days mostly outside the temple/synagogues. He asks: “Is it lawful to cure people on the Sabbath, or not?” (v. 3). Today’s churches are luxuriously adorned mansions; but, just in front/behind the church-buildings lie the needy, the last, the least, and the lost! Who will care them?A paradigmatic reader’s concern toward the church is only secondary to the “spiritually/materially starving ones”, about whom Jesus was much concerned of. (2) Jesus says: “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (v. 11). A PR is a practitioner of “humbleness” in her/his day-by-day life. (3) Jesus says: “…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”. A PR is a host of the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”. Her/his house is a rendezvous for the ostracized, dehumanized, and downtrodden (cf. vv. 12-14). (4) Master of the Dinner says: “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame”. He says again: “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled” (vv. 21-23). A PR will be persuaded by her/his reading of this passage. By her/his reading, s/he becomes a concerned person toward the poor and the needy. A PR will always attempt to realize the persuasive power of the text. (5) A PR will be a Christo-centric person, one who is a disciple, one who initiates and finishes, one who is just like “tasty salt”, and one who reads, hears, and listens.

Luke 15: (1) Narrator delineates: “…all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him (Jesus)”. Pharisees and scribes grumble: “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them”. For a Paradigmatic Reader (PR), Jesus is the paradigm. S/he finds in Jesus, ‘actions’ are inseparably intertwined to ‘words’. (2) First rhetorical question: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” A PR may take up ‘leaving’ and ‘going’ as important duties in order to be accomplished with immediate effect. S/he anticipates moments of ‘joy’/’rejoicing’ ahead. (3) Second rhetorical question: “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds?” A PR may consider ‘lighting’, ‘sweeping’ and ‘searching’ as important tasks to be fulfilled. Again ‘joy’/’rejoicing’. (4) Rhetorical utterance: “we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found”. A PR takes up the transference: “death to life” and “lost to found”. (5) It is not the concern for one to think, “whether it is only 1% or 10% or 50%”; but the concern is that one must ‘leave’, ‘go’, ‘light’, ‘sweep’, ‘search’, and ‘sacrifice’ in order to find the lost!

Luke 16: (1) A Paradigmatic Reader (PR) will always endeavour to serve as a faithful/shrewd manager, not only to her/his worldly ‘boss’ but also to her/his Redeemer God. (2) Faithfulness, honesty, and trustworthiness are her/his hallmarks (cf. vv. 1-12). (3) S/he realizes that wealth is not the primary concern on the surface of the world, but devotion to God. A Christ-centered life and its reflection on a day-by-day basis are expected from her/him. (4) Jesus says: “…what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God” (v. 15b). A PR is neither a money-lover nor a money-hater; but always a “lover of God”. (5) Jesus says: “…it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped” (v. 17). A PR does not take this utterance in a mere literal sense; rather, from the very utterance of Jesus s/he understands the authoritative/infallible nature of the Scriptures. (6) Jesus says: “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (v. 18). A PR is a keeper of family-values, a loving husband/wife, and a caring/responsible father/mother. S/he places the attribute ‘love’ at the centre of her/his family-life. (7) A PR is one who always shows justice to the poor/slaves. S/he constantly works as a transformer, liberator, and emancipator in her/his socio-cultural and religio-political context. This s/he fulfils not merely through her/his intellectual reflections/writings/preaching/presentations but also through her/his Christ-like life and actions.

Luke 17: (1) A Paradigmatic Reader (PR) is not merely a ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ human; rather, s/he is ‘humanitarian’ and ‘theo-centric’. S/he is/will be always concerned of “these little one(s)” from her/his surroundings (cf. v. 2). S/he rebukes the offender, brings the offender to the level of repentance, and, finally, forgives. It is learned from the scripture that in the ecclesial and communal contexts ‘repentance’ and ‘forgiveness’ must go hand-in-hand. (2) A PR begins reading the Scripture by faith. Her/his faith constrains her/him to put the ‘message’ into ‘praxis’. S/he may begin with an assurance that her/his faith in Jesus would ultimately result into action. (3) Master-Slave relationship is pinpointed here (vv. 7-10). Colossians 4:1 has to be read aloud here: “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven”. A PR (either as a ‘Master’ or as a ‘Slave’) maintains relationships, performs duties and responsibilities fairly, and practices justice. (4) A PR will always be thankful to God. S/he is not like the nine lepers who received and forgot; but, like the Samaritan (i.e., leper-turned-clean person) who had shown ‘thankfulness’ to the healer. (5) A PR affirms the fact that ‘wherever Jesus is, there is the Kingdom of God’. S/he is, on the one hand, present-affirming, and, on the other, future-oriented in lifestyle (cf. vv. 20-21). (6) A PR will always be conscious and cautious. S/he considers the scriptural examples (like Noah and Lot) in order to learn from the past, transform the present, and hope for a better future.

Luke 18: (1) Jesus urges his interlocutors to grand justice to those who are in need. God is quick in justice; hence, a PR finds solace in God and becomes a practitioner of justice (cf. vv. 1-8). (2) Jesus says: “…for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted” (v. 14b). A PR’s prayer will always be similar to that of the tax collector’s prayer. S/he will never be hypocritical just like the Pharisee(s); rather s/he turns to be a true devotee of God. (3) A PR understands the value of a child-like heart before God and ultimately the importance of entering into the Kingdom of God. (4) Wealth and spirituality are two different things. The status of our spirituality must always be above wealth, not the other way around (cf. vv. 18-25). (5) Leaving everything behind and following Jesus is a Christian principle; but, a Christian cannot live/keep her/himself away from everything. A great irony!: a PR’s life is in the world, but s/he lives dynamically and distinctly. (6) A PR understands that before the time of resurrection/glorification/exaltation there is a time of ‘being handed over’, ‘mocked’, ‘insulted’, ‘spat upon’, ‘flogged’, and ‘killed’. Christian way is a way of struggles those lead the traveller ultimately to glory. (7) A PR’s repeated prayer will be asking for God’s mercy.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

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