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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

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Lectionary Reflection

Year C, Proper 22 Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary Revised Common Lectionary (Gospel Theme Track) Gospel

Luke 17: 5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. "Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, `We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'

Reflection on Luke 17: 5-10 by John Gibbs, PhD

The contemporary quest for spirituality often hopes to receive “faith” passively without actively undertaking what the Presence does. As the apostles said to the Lord, so many contemplatives on retreat say ‘til this day: “Increase our faith!”

But the contemplative life is neither so passive nor so simple, as Jesus’ response insists. It’s a matter of doing (v. 10). It’s a matter of living in whatever circumstances the life of the kingdom of God 17:21). It’s a matter of some neighbor’s repentance receiving our forgiveness (17:1-4), time after time. It’s a matter of enacting all that we Christians were ordered to do, and doing so as faithful servants rather than as seekers for our own prizes and rewards (17:7-10).

As Eugene Peterson has insisted, Christian spirituality is not about us and our fulfillment, but about God and the fulfillment of God’s purposes. Words of faith are worked out in community action, and in deeds of faithfulness to our neighbors, all creaturely neighbors including the human ones.

Our contemplation leads to the making of “transparent lives” that faithfully make clear God’s redemptive purposes in this world.“Congruence” develops between what we do and how we do it, between our words and our deeds, between our inner life and the kind of world we build around us. [See Peterson, “Transparent lives: the contemplative Christian,” The Christian Century, Nov. 29, 2003; Vol. 120, #24, pp. 20-27.]

Copyright Statement

Reflections on other Readings [Standard (Episcopal) and Revised Common Lectionary] for Year C, Proper 22

Revised Common Lectionary

Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary

Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Lesson:
Lamentations 1:1-6
no reflection available
Lanentations 3: 19-26 or Psalm 137
no reflection available
New Testament Lesson:
Luke 17:5-10
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Luke 17:5-10
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John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attended Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2003. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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