In the Gospel for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. When the beggar, Lazarus, died, he enjoyed the company of Abraham in heaven. When the rich man died, he experienced torment in the netherworld. He failed to care for Lazarus. From the netherworld he pleaded with Abraham. ” ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them’ ” (Luke 16: 27-29). Lazarus had Moses and the Prophets. We have Jesus. Jesus wants his disciples and us to do loving acts of kindness to the Lazaruses in our lives. He wants us to give or ourselves to those starving for food, craving for mercy, thirsting for justice. What deed of loving kindness is Jesus asking from you today?
In the Gospel for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells the parable of the dishonest steward. About to be fired, a steward collects a reduced interest from the debtors of his master. He gets even with the master who makes less profit. He also insures good business relationships with the debtors from whom he may need help in his unemployment. “And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. ‘For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light’ ” (Luke 16: 10). Jesus seems to be holding up a dishonest manager as an example to follow. Jesus is commending him for his decisive action in a crisis rather than for his dishonesty. Jesus is challenging his listeners who are indecisive about following him. Jesus urges his disciples and us to give ourselves wholeheartedly to God every day. Doing God’s will obligate us to share everyday what we have in whatever way we can with those in want: food to the hungry, comfort to the sick, shelter for the homeless, companionship for the lonely, and more. What action did you take today on behalf of those who want?
In the Gospel for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells the parable of the Lost Sheep. He relates finding the lost sheep to the reign of God. “I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15: 7). Jesus’ God is unbelievably merciful. God is as foolish in mercy as the shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep to find one lost. Our wonderfully merciful God still loves us even when we sin. When we realize the wrong we have done, we can return to our God who abounds in mercy. With such a merciful God, we can find the courage to admit our wrongdoing, to help heal those whom we have hurt, and to try again to love better. How do you experience the mercy of God?
In the Gospel for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship. “In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14: 33). Jesus reminds his disciples and us to weigh the costs of following him. Loving friendship with Jesus demands a total commitment. As true friends of God, Christian discipleships are ready to offer whatever they have for God’s sake. Following the example of Jesus, his disciples willingly do whatever it takes to love others. When have you served someone in need without counting the cost?
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?