The Gospel of Luke: a commentary & meditation 
 "Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"

Scripture:  Luke 12:54-59

54 He also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming'; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57 "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper."

Meditation: How good are you at reading signs?  Jesus expects his disciples to read the signs of the times accurately! While modern technology gives us greater accuracy for pinpointing troublesome tempests and quakes, our ability for discerning spiritual trouble and averting spiritual disaster seems to be in need of desperate repair or at least improvement.  How good are you at reading signs?  The people of Jesus' time expected that the coming of the Messiah would be accompanied by extraordinary signs and wonders. False messiahs had made great claims to attract followers, such as cleaving the Jordan River in two or causing the walls of Jerusalem to fall. Jesus knew the hearts of those who came to test him. They were more interested in signs and supernatural phenomena than they were in the word of God. Simeon had prophesied at Jesus' birth that he was "destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus gave them no sign except himself and the ultimate proof of his divinity when he rose from the dead. The Lord reveals himself to us in many ways -- in his word and in the "breaking of the bread" in the Lord's supper or eucharist, in his Church -- the body of Christ, in his creation, and even in the everyday circumstances of our lives. If we seek the Lord, we can be confident that he will give us everything we need to do his will. Most of all the Lord assures us of his presence and the promise that he will never leave us.  Theresa of Avila's prayer book was found to contain a bookmark inscribed:  Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes.  Patience achieves all it strives for.  Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices. Is God enough for you?
 
Jesus used a vivid illustration to point out the urgency of getting right with God.  If you were up against a bad cause and were likely to get severely penalized, would you not try to settle the case out-of-court to avoid a worse penalty?  Each of us stands in constant need of God's love and mercy.   His light reveals what is in our hearts and his grace frees us from the tyranny of sin. God's call is urgent and his grace is available for complete transformation in Christ.  Are you ready for his grace and action in your life?

"Lord, change my heart and my life that I may fully live for you.  Help me to choose what is right and to turn away from every sin and from every attachment to worldliness which keeps me from loving and serving you wholeheartedly."


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 (c)1999 Don Schwager