In the Gospel for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus tells the parable of the Lost Son.  Overjoyed by the return of his wayward son, the father throws a big party for him.  The older brother resents it.  The father explains.  “But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15: 32).  Jesus compares our merciful God to this foolish father who welcomes home his good for nothing son.  God’s loving mercy goes beyond what we can imagine.  God loves us even though we have sinned.  God wants us to share the joy of this mercy with everyone, especially with those who have sinned against us.  With whom do you need to share God’s mercy?

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In the Gospel for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus teaches about the demands of being his disciple.  “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14: 26-27).  Jesus does not want us to hate our family.  Rather he wants us to put God first.  No other relationship must be more important than our relationship with Jesus.  My love for God, or rather God’s love for me, enables me to love my family with generosity and forgiveness.  God has blessed me with family to love even when difficult.  How has God’s love helped you love others even when difficult?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus teaches a lesson about generosity to his dinner party host.  “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.  Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.  For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14: 12-14).  Christians share what they have with the disadvantaged.  They share without expectation of payback.  They share food with the unemployed neighbor trying to make ends meet.  They visit a relative hospitalized for a debilitating illness.  They console a mean customer blinded by anger.  They advocate for justice for those confined in prison, at the border, to life on the streets.  How do you share with those who are poor, crippled, lame, and blind?

In the Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus speaks a hard truth.  “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; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12: 51-53).  Jesus preached the good news of God’s kingdom without compromise.  He did not want to cause division.  Yet some believed and some did not.  Facing the truth is still difficult whether whether confronting an addict, announcing the death of a loved one, challenging discriminatory government policies, acknowledging personal sinfulness, or facing other conflicts.  How do you remain faithful to God’s love when dealing with conflict?

In the Gospel for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus tells the parable of the watchful servants.  “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.   Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them” (Luke 12: 35-37).  Jesus challenges his disciples then and now to remain steadfast in loving service to others.  God wants us to always be as generous in our love as we can.  Steadfast love is accompanying a sibling in recovery from leukemia, a friend in grief over the death of a son or daughter killed in a mass shooting, an unemployed neighbor in financial trouble, and others in need of God’s loving care.  How do you faithfully serve others?

In the Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool.  The rich fool builds larger barns to keep for himself all of his abundant harvest.  His abrupt death foils his plans for a long life of leisure.   Jesus uses the parable to warn against greed.  “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Luke 12: 15).  Jesus warns us against using our possessions only for ourselves.  God wants us to use our possessions to care for those in need.  For whom do you use your possessions?

In the Gospel for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus visits Martha and Mary.  Mary sits and listens to Jesus.  Martha is in the kitchen preparing dinner.  She complains that her sister is not helping.  “The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’ ” (Luke 10: 41-42).  Jesus is not giving Martha party planning advice.  He does not care whether she is making a seven course meal or a casserole.  He is teaching her and all his disciples that our priority must be listening to him.  I can relate to Martha.  I am anxious about many things.  When I can pray in one of my anxious moods, Jesus challenges my priorities.  He reminds me that love must motivate whatever I do.  Then making the perfect fettuccine alfredo is not as important as loving those for whom I am making it.  How does prayer help you keep your priorities straight?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer a lawyer’s question about neighbors.  The lawyer wants to be a neighbor, but only with God’s chosen people.  Jesus challenges him to think about how God’s people should act.  He offers a Samaritan, considered an outcast by Jews, as an example of God’s loving mercy.  ” ‘Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’  He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise’ ” (Luke 10: 36-37).  Jesus wants us to act like the Samaritan.  Christians care with God’s loving mercy for anyone in need.  Christians love migrants, addicts, homeless people, mean relatives, old neighbors and more.  How do you imitate the compassionate mercy of the Good Samaritan?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus instructs the disciples for their mission.  “At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit” (Luke 10: 1).  Jesus sent his disciples in pairs (two by two) for mutual support.   Sharing faith with my family, friends, and church community empowers me me to live a Christian life.  Parents who have survived the death of a newborn with trust in God help me trust in God.  Recovering addicts who rely on a higher power help me accept the things I cannot change.  Peacemakers like Dorothy Day inspire me to work for justice for the homeless, immigrants, and people different from me.  How do others help you live a Christian life?  How do you help others?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches about the cost of discipleship.  On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples made plans to stay in a Samaritan village.  They were not welcome.  “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’  Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village” (Luke 9: 54-56).  I can relate to James and John.  When I am hurt by someone, I want to hurt them back.  Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to retaliate.  He wants us to respond in a loving way to those who hurt us.  Retaliation creates more hurt.  Extended family members have refused to talk to me anymore.  I am falsely accused of disrespect at their loved one’s funeral.  I am struggling to forgive them.  Those who follow Jesus forgive others.  How has Jesus helped you forgive someone who hurt you?

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