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The Bible In A Year: Day 83

Deuteronomy 18-19
Psalm 82
Luke 8:16-56

Deuteronomy 18-19

The people are again warned against following the “abominable practices” of the nations around them. They’re told that these very practices are the reason why they’ve been selected by God to be dispossessed, and their land given to his holy and set apart people.

In the middle of this warning against soothsayers and necromancies (among others) the people are promised a prophet like Moses will arrive to lead them. This prophecy of the prophet to come had taken on messianic tones by the time of Christ, and is who the people were referring to when John was asked “are you the prophet.” The prophecy is partially fulfilled in Joshua, but it’s ultimate fulfillment is Jesus Christ.

See the prophecy through its messianic lens, we see why Matthew (who wrote for a Jewish Christian audience) framed his gospel after Moses’ discourses in Deuteronomy and constantly painted a picture that would remind his readers of the great lawgiver.

Luke 8:16-56

Anyone who’s ever sung “this little light of mine” in Sunday school knows this saying of Jesus. He asks rhetorically if a lamp is lit to be hidden and of course the answer is no. Jesus is the light of the world, and in our baptism we are commissioned to allow his light to shine through us to enlighten this world darkened by sin. We are the candles that are burning with the light of Christ and we can’t hide that away, we need to display it so others can find their way in the darkness.

The apostles and Jesus get into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee and a big storm blows in while Jesus sleeps. The apostles panic and think that they’re all going to die, but Jesus reprimanded their lack of faith, he commanded the storm to calm down and the waves to stop, and this made them marvel because only God had such authority over nature.

The wave-tossed boat signifies the struggles of the Christian life. Endangered by the wind and fierce waves, God’s people are awakened by spiritual assaults and become aware of their helplessness. They call upon the Lord for salvation and inner peace. The near presence of Christ assures their deliverance, and his swiftness strengthens their wavering faith.

Saint John Chrysostom

Jesus then goes on to heal a man possessed by demon, and tormented so badly that he lived out among the tombs. When asked the name of the demon, it replied with “legion” signifying a great many demons because a Roman legion consisted of approximately 5000 men. Jesus commands these 5000 demons to leave and they have no power to resist him. This leaves the people of the area to fear him, because even though exorcists did exist back then they were not as powerful as this traveling Jew from across the sea.

As he was leaving, the man whom he had freed begged him to go with them. Jesus told him to go home and tell what happened to him. This is a departure from the usual ‘don’t make a big deal out if this’ approach, and the reason is that this was a non-Jewish area and so didn’t have to be concerned about stirring up the Jewish authorities sooner than need be.

When he arrives at the other side of the sea, back by where he has set up his base of operations during his ministry, he performs two miracles that are linked by both being healings brought on by great acts of faith, and by a link in time. 

In the first miracle, a man named Jairus approached him and begs him to come heal his daughter, and Jesus begins to leave with him when the second miracle takes place. A woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years comes up and touches Jesus’ robe as he passed. Because she was ceremonially unclean according to Levitical Law (and had been for 12 years), her touching him would normally make him unclean, but Jesus came to heal, cleanse and restore all things. Her faith in reaching out to Jesus healed her and cleansed her. 

When they arrive at Jairus’s house they’re informed that the girl has died, but Jesus reassured him and entered with just his closest disciples, Peter, James and John. These three made up his inner circle so to speak, and were with him on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the garden before his passion. 

After telling her to rise, she comes back to life and walks from her bed like Lazarus did. We then learn that she was twelve years old, so as long as she had been alive the woman with the hemorrhage had been bleeding.

Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.” St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”

CCC 2616

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 20
Psalm 83
Luke 9

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