Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 8, 2013

the-martyr-1970Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 16:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus provides an example of how people in the world calculate to gain an advantage over the future. When the Lord draws a distinction between these kind of people, “the children of this world,” and, “the children of light,” he is acknowledging that the behavior of the dishonest steward is not the behavior of people who live kingdom values. Yet Jesus presents the dishonest steward up as an example–as someone who deals shrewdly with his predicaments and makes plans to secure his future. In the gospel passage we read two days ago, Luke 14:25-33, Jesus offers the example of the builder of the tower who figures out before he starts, how he will finish his project. In the same passage, he describes the king marching into battle who realizes he is outnumbered and sues for peace while his enemy is at a distance. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us that he sends us out as sheep among wolves and counsels us to be a wily as serpents even as we maintain the innocence of doves. Jesus in Luke 16:1-8 invites the children of light to be pragmatic in how they advance the kingdom. The gospel passage we read today, invites us to engage in a certain holy calculation to advance the kingdom’s agenda.

Saint of the day: Blessed John Duns Scotus was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname “the Subtle Doctor,” left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom. This essay first lays out what is known about Scotus’s life and the dating of his works. It then offers an overview of some of his key positions in scotusfour main areas of philosophy: natural theology, metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, and ethics and moral psychology. Scotus taught that God so loved the world that if humanity had not fallen, God would have gone ahead and figured out another reason to become part of God’s creation.

Scotus is a nickname: it identifies Scotus as a Scot. His family name was Duns, which was also the name of the Scottish village in which he was born, just a few miles from the English border. We do not know the precise date of his birth, but we do know that Scotus was ordained to the priesthood in the Franciscan Order at Saint Andrew’s Priory in Northampton, England, on March 17, 1291. 2635589_f520The minimum age for ordination was twenty-five, so we can conclude that Scotus was born before March 17, 1266. But how much before? The conjecture, plausible but by no means certain, is that Scotus would have been ordained as early as canonically permitted. Since the Bishop of Lincoln (the diocese that included Oxford, where Scotus was studying, as well as St Andrew’s Priory) had ordained priests in Wycombe on December 23, 1290, we can place Scotus’s birth between December 23, 1265 and March 17, 1266.

It appears that Scotus began his formal studies at Oxford in October 1288 and concluded them in June 1301. In the academic year 1298–99 he commented on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. We know that by the fall of 1302 Scotus was lecturing on the Sentences in Paris. In June 1303 Scotus was expelled from France along with eighty other friars for taking the Pope’s side in a dispute with the king. They were allowed to return in April 1304; it appears that Scotus completed his lectures on the Sentences not long thereafter. On November 18, 1304 Scotus was appointed the Franciscan regent master in theology at Paris. For reasons no one quite understands, Scotus was transferred to the Franciscan studium at Cologne, probably beginning his duties as lector in October 1307. He died there in 1308; the date of his death is traditionally given as November 8. He is buried in a Franciscan church in Cologne. Scotus was officially named a “blessed” of the Church in 1991.

Spiritual reading: We must be careful with our lives, for Christ’s sake, because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious and what we do with them matters enormously. (Frederick Buechner)


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