In the Gospel for the Twenty-second in Ordinary Time, Jesus told a parable about the guests at a wedding banquet choosing places of honor at the table. The host asked those who chose a place of honor to move when the real honored guests arrived. The host later invited those who chose a lower place to take an unoccupied place of honor. “Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14: 11). Jesus uses table manners to teach about the reign of God. God invites everyone into the kingdom. Those who recognize their need for God respond to the invitation. I realize how much I depend on God. I have done nothing to earn God’s blessing of life, family, job, and more. God is also responsible for the good I do. Despite my struggles as a husband and parent, God helps me love my spouse and my sons. How do you depend on God?
In the Gospel for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus answers a question about who will be saved. “ ‘Lord, will only a few people be saved?’ He answered them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will ot be strong enough’ ” (Luke 13: 24). Jesus warns his disciples and us about waiting until too late to seek the reign of God. He urges us to seek it now. Seeking the reign of God demands a change of heart. Jesus wants us to live each day for God. Living for God is living for others as Jesus taught us. How are you living today for God?
In the Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus warns his disciples of the trials to come. “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! … Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12: 49-52). How can Jesus, Prince of Peace, want division? Jesus wants committed, not lukewarm, disciples. He wants disciples on fire with the love of God. Disciples as metal become stronger when tested in fire. Jesus knows this level of commitment to God divides disciples from themselves. They will struggle to follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrificing love. He knows it divides disciples from friends and family who do not believe. He knows that his commitment to God divides him from those who will put him to death. Jesus wants a peace that comes from love tested true in life’s troubles and trials. How has your faith been strengthened in the fire of life’s trials?
In the Gospel for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus compares the coming of the final days to a thief in the night. “If the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Luke 12: 39-40). Jesus does not want to scare his disciples and us into anxious foreboding. He wants us to get serious about our daily commitment to God. He wants us to live everyday devoted to God’s work, not ours. The Spirit helps us remain vigilant. How are you vigilant in your devotion to the love of Jesus?
In the Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool. With an overflowing harvest, he decides to build bigger barns. “But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God” (Luke 12: 20-21). As a parent of young adults, I have been thinking a lot about my legacy to my sons. They will inherit whatever my wife and I own. We also bequeath them something more valuable. The love we have and do share with them will live on in their love for God, themselves, their friends, and their families. We strive to share the riches of the love Christ has for us. How are you rich in what matters to God?
In the Gospel for the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11-13) Jesus offers no guaranty that every thing we pray for will be answered. He urges trust in God’s continual loving care. My wife and I have prayed for God’s help throughout our married life. With God’s grace, we buried our parents, survived times of unemployment, and lived through other hardships. God’s love helps us through bad times and good. Trusting in God’s loving care, we are better able deal with life’s difficulties with love for ourselves and others? How do you pray?
In the Gospel for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus sends his disciples on a mission to announce the good news of reign of God. “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household’ ” (Luke 10: 3-4). He warns they will encounter hardships. Many will reject their message. Some will threaten their lives. Jesus promises to take loving care of them. I feel like a lamb among wolves sometimes. I am a faithful Christian who loves God and others. Yet bad things still happen to me. One sibling suffers a stroke. Another disowns me. So why do bad things happen to good people? I do not know. Yet I am confident God cares for me even though I do not know how. How does God help you through adversity?
In the Gospel for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches about the cost of discipleship. He knows not everyone is ready to follow him. “And another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.’ To him Jesus said, ‘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: 61-62). In Jesus’s time, the farmer kept the rows straight by one hand on the plow and the other on the oxen’s reins. Taking one’s eyes off the plow and the oxen could make crooked rows. So too disciples of Jesus. Following Jesus requires constant attention to his example. Christian discipleship requires the daily practice of the love of Jesus. How are you following Jesus?
In the Gospel for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches his disciples about the cross. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9: 23-24). Jesus challenges his disciples then and now to daily steadfast loyalty to his way of life. Taking up one’s cross is living one’s life day by day in selfless love for others. Christians offer their lives every day for God and others. Following the example of Jesus is not easy. I struggle to love a sibling from whom I am estranged. Sometimes I focus on my pain. Sometimes, by God’s grace, I pray for healing for my sibling and for our relationship. How can God help you remain steadfast in your love for others?
In the Gospel for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, a woman sinner washes and anoints the feet of Jesus. He is dining at the home of Simon. She welcomes Jesus by washing his feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, and anointing them with costly ointment. She responds with incredible generosity to Jesus for God’s generous forgiveness of her. ” ‘So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ ” (Luke 7: 47-48). God shows incredible mercy to sinners. How has God forgiven you. How have you forgiven others?