Sunday Bible Reflections
A foreign leper is cleansed and in thanksgiving returns to offer homage to the God of Israel. We hear this same story in both the First Reading and Gospel today.
There were many lepers in Israel in Elisha’s time, but only Naaman the Syrian trusted in God’s Word and was cleansed (see Luke 5:12–14). Today’s Gospel likewise implies that most of the ten lepers healed by Jesus were Israelites—but only a foreigner, the Samaritan, returned.
Our commitment to Christ will be put to the test.
We will hear whispered warnings and denunciations, as Jeremiah does in today’s First Reading. Even so-called friends will try to trap us and trip us up.
For His sake we will bear insults and be made outcasts—even in our own homes, we hear in today’s Psalm.
As Jeremiah tells us, we must expect that God will challenge our faith in Him, and probe our minds and hearts, to test the depths of our love.
“Do not be afraid,” Jesus assures us three times in today’s Gospel.
The Eucharist is given to us as a challenge and a promise. That’s how Jesus presents it in today’s Gospel.
He doesn’t make it easy for those who hear Him. They are repulsed and offended at His words. Even when they begin to quarrel, He insists on describing the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood in starkly literal terms.
We often begin Mass with the prayer from today’s Epistle: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” We praise the God who has revealed Himself as a Trinity, a communion of persons.
Communion with the Trinity is the goal of our worship—and the purpose of the salvation history that begins in the Bible and continues in the Eucharist and sacraments of the Church.
The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.
The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15–21; Deuteronomy 16:9–11).
In today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and He has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.
The truth of this feast shines forth from the Letter to the Hebrews, where we read of the great high priest’s passing through the heavens, the sinless intercessor’s sacrifice on our behalf (see Hebrews 4:14–15).
Jesus has been taken up into heaven as we begin today’s First Reading. His disciples—including the Apostles and Mary—return to the upper room where He celebrated the Last Supper (see Luke 22:12).
There, they devote themselves with one accord to prayer, awaiting the Spirit that He promised would come upon them (see Acts 1:8).