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Jesus: Shaking the Disciples by the Shoulders

Reflection Lk 12:2-12 (All that is dark will be revealed.)

Adding the tail end of yesterday’s reading for context, we have the hypocrisy of the scribes and

pharisees in mind as we enter today’s passage, when our Lord is exhorting the disciples to take courage and not be anxious about the dire things they are to expect when they go forth to proclaim the good news. Here’s how I was reading it: “...He began to say to his disciples first, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” Doesn’t it sound as if those things now covered up and hidden, which will nevertheless be revealed and become known, are those things the hypocrites are hiding? They are hypocrites because they pretend to be virtuous and religions while living proudly and taking advantage of the people, oppressing the widows and killing the prophets. What they think hidden, God surely knows, and makes public now that Jesus is speaking them for all to hear.

But no, He is going away from the place where he’d been confronting the scribes and Pharisees, but they’re coming along anyway and pressing Him hard with questions meant to entrap Him, and many thousands of the multitude were crowded together, and today’s passage begins right them, and at this moment He is not speaking to the scribes and pharisees any longer, nor to the crowds, but now “He began to say to his disciples, first, ‘Beware of the leaven... which is hypocrisy...or hidden that will not be known,” and continuing He says, to his disciples, “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” And only then does He launch into his encouragement, exhorting them not to deny Him before men, reminding them of the Holy Spirit who will be at work among them in power, and promising that even should they be killed, they won’t go to hell but to heaven and glory, and so they’re not to fear being killed, and not to worry what to say when hauled before authorities.

He could have warned the scribes and pharisees that what they had been speaking in private, would be made known; but no, He’s talking to his own disciples. In context, I am driven to suppose the disciples would be speaking in private about the good news, the Kingdom of Heaven, forgiveness of sins for the repentant. What? Hadn’t they done that before, when being sent out two by two to preach? So I think our Lord is foretelling the time just after His Passion and death on the Cross, when his disciples were indeed fearful, and stayed in hiding, and could speak only in private; and foretelling, too, that they would afterwards be proclaiming these good things for all the world to hear – and suffer persecution for their trouble, which He’s now telling them they are not to fear.

For me, I get used to the Beatitudes, the whole Sermon on the Mount, our Lord explaining things

and healing people: it’s quite a shock when He starts publicly slamming the pharisees, and when the

scribes protest, begin slamming them just as hard, emphasizing his points all the more severely! Now He’s talking to his disciples, and talking hard, too. Seems to me a splash of cold water, as if shaking them by the shoulders. He’s trying to wake them up! I don’t think it worked, judging by their behavior at the Passion, though. But at least He’s planting the seeds, giving them memories to fall back on. He’s basically preparing for his Passion. He’s preparing the scribes and Pharisees – they will refuse to be jarred from their present course, and instead feel all the more goaded to catch and kill Him; He’s preparing the disciples – they’re not waking up just yet, for the Passion is not in their repertoire till afterwards, but at least He’s bucking them up some, giving them the foundation they will need so they can wake up and know what to do after the Resurrection. Even then, He has to return and teach them some more!

Lessons? We humans are, as a rule, awfully slow to change, and we can find this when we discover some bad habit that fights back when we want to change it. We’re not to pretend virtue but to work towards acquiring it. We’re to trust our Lord more and more, and ever more, and hardships are not a good reason to doubt Him.

I’m sorry, Lord, that we can be so very slow to change. I’m glad and thankful, Lord, that you are

so forbearing and long suffering, putting up with us, chiding us yes sometimes, but never giving up on us.

Fill us with your Holy Spirit to overflowing!

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1 Comment

James Vaughn, OFS
James Vaughn, OFS
Nov 03, 2023

Good to hear from you! We love your “holy page”, so much in line with how I would see the Orthodox Elders and your monks minister inside and outside of the walls of your monastery. God Bless and peace be with you.

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