Saturday, April 2, 2011

To Be Like Jesus: Inspiration from the Gospel of Luke

By Sister Ann Shields, 130 pages, Servant Books.

Sister Shields interprets for faithful modern living various passages about Jesus from Luke's Gospel. She keeps the reader focused on the larger meaning behind the Lord's words and deeds. Clear explanations of the passage are made relevant to readers' lives, as she applies the meaning to today's busy, secular world.

Her interesting discussion on Jesus among his own people, proclaiming the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, offers a step-by-step interpretation of the passage. At first, Jesus' audience is happy and amazed, for this is Joseph's son. As Sister Shields explains, their acceptance turns to shock then disappointment and hatred, as Jesus challenges their beliefs about the Chosen People and the work of the Messiah for whom they are so eagerly waiting.

Sister Shields shows how we too act like this when someone threatens our belief system. This passage speaks to us today; we are the audience listening to Jesus, and the Messiah, who we already know has come, is challenging us as deeply as he did his original audience.

Behind gentle Biblical interpretation and spiritual teaching lie a few challenges for the reader. Shields shows that the Gospel challenges us deeply, because faith does not come as easily as we think it does.

She applies Gospel imagery to her spiritual teaching for the reader: "Your faith might really feel like a mustard seed, so small that it looks as if it can't be the source of life for anything. But water it with God's grace in frequent confession and reception of the Eucharist. Lay your heart bare before God. Decide to obey his command to forgive."

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