Beautiful are the Feet
A Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 17 26-37
Today’s Gospel Reading is found at https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111122.cfm
Today we celebrate Veteran’s Day and remember those who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom. They persisted in their task. They endured to the end. We also celebrate the Memorial of St Martin of Tours. St Martin began his adult life as a Soldier. After encountering Christ as a beggar alongside the road, giving Him half his cloak to keep warm, Martin renounced earthly battles and diligently served God. He too, endured to the end in proclaiming the Gospel in a hostile world. How beautiful are their feet!
Beautiful Feet are Essential
St Paul writes in his letter to the Romans,
But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” (Romans 10:14–15 NABRE)
For everyone who has ever lost a good friend, seemingly alienated someone in your family, faced ostracism, or had doors slammed in your face because you have persisted in proclaiming the Gospel, don’t stop! Beautiful are your feet!
Internet Image from https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/the-biblical-significance-of-feet.html
In the first century the streets were the typical dumping ground for every type of refuse. Keeping your feet clean and beautiful as you travel around was impossible. This is why, people who could afford it, were carried through the streets. It follows then, that if your feet are clean and beautiful, so is the rest of your body. Jesus tells Peter at the Last Supper,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over...” (John 13:10 NABRE)
The Ark and the Church
In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that bringing the good news will be counter-cultural and difficult work. People are complacent about the future, even when they are being told that disaster is around the corner. Just look at compliance with disaster evacuation orders today. If you tell someone the good news of salvation, they may tend to laugh and ask: “What do I need to be saved from”? That is what happened in the time of Noah.
The Ark as it was being built stood as a sign of the judgement to come upon the world. It had to have taken a significant amount of time to build, provision, and then load the various animals. Yet, we do not hear of anyone wishing to be added to the ship’s crew. People were complacent and saw no immediate need for salvation. At best, they ignored Noah. At worst, they abused and derided him. They saw no need for a change of heart. In a sense, the building of the Ark itself was a kind of preaching. Noah was erecting a huge billboard calling those around him to repent and be saved. Yet, those who looked upon the Ark chose instead to shut themselves up in the darkness of ignorance. They are imprisoned by their own thinking.
Is it any different today? The Ark has always been seen as an image, a “type”, for the Church. Throughout the centuries the Church was, and is, being built as a call to repentance and salvation. Yet, the world sits apathetically by, not realizing that judgment threatens them, as did the great flood in the time of Noah. Just consider all who delay or refuse the reception of the Sacraments, especially Baptism. It is like offering someone a life jacket as they sink into the abyss and he or she politely refuse.
Endure in Proclaiming the Gospel!
Like St Martin of Tours, we cannot stop proclaiming the Gospel though we may never see the fruit. Whether we see the fruit of our labor is unimportant. We are co-workers with God in the saving of lives. We must keep trying. We must endure. Again,
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, ‘Your God is King!’” (Isaiah 52:7 NABRE)
Jesus tells us today that,
So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, someone who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise one in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. (Luke 17:30–33)
If you are on the roof-top spiritually, don’t be lured down the steps by the world or in frustration for seeming lack of success. Yours is a labor of love for the Lord and your neighbor. Stay on the roof top! If you are in the field, laboring for the Lord, keep at it and do not turn back out of self-interest or lack of success.
The Lord tells us, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 NABRE)
Do not look back! Lot’s wife looked back to her old life. She represents the flesh which always looks to its own interest and not of the kingdom. We must keep our eyes fixed on heaven.
Do not Gather around the Dead, but Amongst the Living
Love calls upon us to leave no one among the dead around which the vultures wait. St Peter writes,
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NABRE)
The gathering place of the kingdom is the living body of Christ, not amongst the dead. It is where His saints gather. Strengthened by the living Christ, we must remain at work in the field, even when our call to conversion goes unheeded. For through our Baptism, the Lord has washed us, and we have been placed on mission. We cannot allow the world and frustration to muddy our feet and drag us down. Keep your feet beautiful, bear the Gospel into the world.
The Lord promises, “’Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20 NABRE)