Category: Daniel Venzin

Luke 18:9-14

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 23rd, 2016.

The head of the Pharisee
The head of the Pharisee

In this parable, we see that Jesus is teaching about trust and humility.  The contrast that is set up is between a Pharisee, who we can assume is among the crowd who “were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else” and the tax collector who “would not even look up to heaven, but beat his bread and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”  What sticks out is that we have one character who the crowds may look to for spiritual direction when it comes to how we are to approach God in prayer, while the other is a character who is likely not regarded as a “great person” among the crowd but approaches God with a humble and honest heart.  Right away, we see areas for fruitful reflection on the differences in these two characters and the heart that Jesus is interested in for people that desire to be in fellowship with God.

It’s the Pharisee who has followed the rules and done everything that was asked of him.  He has established himself as an honest man and knows that society likely sees him as a good person.  Tax collectors, on the other hand, may likely be lumped into the category that the Pharisee says he is not – robber, evildoer.  He’s probably seen as a leech and traitor for working with Rome at the time and being a burden on the people who are barely scraping by to feed their families.  So with this parable, what do we learn about what God finds commendable in a person’s actions?  What sort of qualities might the world acclaim that establishes a person as “good” in the eyes of society?

Continue reading

Luke 18:1-8

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 16th, 2016.


widow3As a modern day reader, and considering our familiarity with the Bible and the general structure of parables, our first inclination might be to think that the author is describing how the judge and the Lord in this parable are similar.  In fact, this parable sets up a contrast between how the Lord administers justice to those in need and the judge who administers justice after being inconvenienced by constant pleas from the widow.  While the judge gives justice because of badgering, the Lord gives justice to someone who “always prays and [does] not lose heart.”

This parable is focused on prayer and plays on the contrast in status between a judge and a widow.  In those times, the role of a judge was to maintain peaceful community and resolve disputes among the Israelites.  Women, on the other hand, relied on the support given by their husband.  When their husband was not in the picture anymore, they did not inherit property from their husband; instead, it was passed on to either the husband’s male offspring or his brothers.  In some cases, these widows were taken in by the other family members of her late-husband or left to fend for themselves.  Since there was no jury to hear the case of the widow, the judge carried the sole responsibility of dealing with her complaint in a fair and impartial manner – as according to the law set out in Deuteronomy.  Additionally, they were required to show the same amount of respect to the small cases as the large.

Continue reading

Luke 17:11-19

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 9nd, 2016.

James Tissot“Seeing is believing.”  This phrase sounds rather contrary to the whole idea of Christian faith, doesn’t it?  Actually, earlier on in Luke, Jesus talks about the generation seeking a sign and categorizes them as “wicked.”  But this passage seems to have its center based upon this action of “seeing,” maybe even alluding to the idea that this is the most important action taking place in this story.

At the beginning of this passage, we encounter Jesus on the way to Jerusalem when he encounters a group of lepers calling out his name.  From the start, Jesus establishes himself as a curious character to a 21st-century reader because I cannot think of many road trips I have been on where I was willing to stop and attend care to someone calling out and asking me to help fix something of theirs.  If it was a single person and seemed to be stranded, I might be a little more sympathetic; but, seeing as there are 10 of them I can at least feel better about myself because they have each other for company.

Continue reading

Luke 17:5-10

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 2nd, 2016.

gratitudeI got married a little over a year ago and I have been doing the dishes, laundry, making the bed, and taking the dog out just as long.  My reasoning behind choosing to be in charge of these tasks in our house was, “I am going to do these things to make my wife’s life easier.  I am going to work hard for her and show her that I am the type of man who will serve his wife continuously.”  However, I would be lying if on the inside I didn’t somewhat expect my wife to put together a video compilation of my Top 10 Plays of My Husband – “There’s Dan cleaning the dishes he ate off of the night before!  There’s Dan washing his clothes along with his wife’s because he’s out of socks!  There’s Dan making the bed he slept in!  There’s Dan walking the dog that he wanted to get in the first place!”

My initial reasoning behind doing these tasks was to serve my wife, but over time I started to expect some sort of praise.  Over time, doing these tasks again and again became mundane, and without consistent gratitude it became easier and easier to neglect these duties.

Continue reading