Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 96; 148, Jeremiah 31:15-22, Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 7:1-17
Today in Luke we read two short healing stories with particular lessons. Unlike the stories where a faithful woman touches Jesus’ garment or a blind beggar calls out to him, characters in today’s story are healed because of Jesus’ work through others.
A Roman centurion, whose beloved servant lay dying, was too humble to ask Jesus to travel out of his way. Instead, he sent Jewish elders and then friends to say he had faith that if Jesus willed it, the servant would be healed. When we pray or intercede for others, are we as wise and humble as the centurion? When we see an ailing co-worker, or a friend in a bad marriage, do we believe we need to pray or work hard enough to “convince” God to act, as though we are the deciding factor? The truth is none of us can fix anyone else, and God will act as God will. Like the centurion and his friends, often the best we can do is to stand ready to let God use us. This is not a passive state – it is a decision to trust and to be open to possibility.
On his travels, Jesus had compassion for a widow grieving her only son, and he commanded the son to rise from his funeral bier. Compassion is a powerful tool for God to use. Even in our greatest grief, God’s presence can spark new life. Consider John and Revé Walsh who, after the murder of their son Adam, founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Compassion both for and from the Walshes made such an endeavor possible.
We learn from the centurion and the widow that we may – intentionally or unintentionally – become God’s instruments. God may use us even when we are unwilling or uncaring, but remaining alert to the needs around us gives God one more avenue for healing to reach the broken, one more vessel for pouring love into the world. Faith is always about more than our own salvation; it is also about learning to care about the things God cares about.
Comfort: God’s compassion is boundless.
Challenge: Pray for God to open your eyes to needs you might address.
Prayer: God of Freedom, thank you for the opportunity to serve. Amen.
Discussion: How difficult do you find it to let God be in charge?
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