In the Gospel for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus urges his disciples to patiently endure any suffering.  He knows they will face persecution for his sake.  He reassures them of God’s triumph over evil.  He promises his return in glory to claim God’s victory.  “They will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’  with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky” (Mark 13: 26-27).  God’s love is more powerful than sickness, death. or any human suffering.  Confident that God has the final say, Christians have hope.  Life is more than its troubles.  Our lives have purpose.  God wants us to live our lives in love of God, ourselves, and others.  Does your hope in God’s power over evil empower you to love?  How?

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In the Gospel for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus praises a poor widow for her trust in God’s providential care.  Observing how people put money into the treasury, he saw “a poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.  For they  have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood’ ” (Mark 12: 42-44).  The widow exemplifies complete trust in God.  She made a real sacrifice giving what she needed to buy food for the day.  Jesus wants me to trust in God in the same way.  Yet I can rely on myself, secure in my privilege of education, job, food, clothing, and shelter.  But Jesus wants me to rely completely on God’s providential care.  The poverty of trust in God frees me to love others more than myself.  How does your trust in God’s providential care help you love others?

In the Gospel for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches the Great Commandment.  “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ “ (Mark 12: 29b-31a).  Jesus teaches that love of God and of neighbor are essential to our relationship with God.  Christians glorify God by loving their neighbors.  Loving neighbors as ourselves means acknowledging others as beloved by God as we are.  Our prayers fall flat if we fail to respect the God-given dignity of others.  Even those with whom we would rather not associate: street beggar; mentally ill friend; demented parent; someone from a different race, religion, or ethnic group.  Treating anyone other than beloved by God violates their dignity.  Such violence can escalate to pipe bombings and synagogue shootings.  How do you love your neighbor as yourself?

In the Gospel for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus heals the blind Bartimaeus.  “Jesus said to him [blind man] in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’  The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see.’  Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.’  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10: 51b-52).  Bartimaeus recovers his physical sight.  He also clearly sees Jesus’ real identity.  He recognizes him as the Messiah.  Jesus fulfills God’s promises to bring sight to the blind.  Sometimes I am spiritually blind.  I fail to recognize Jesus in myself and others.  I have “turned a blind eye”.  I have resented my spouse when she hurts me.  I have avoided people with whom I did not want to talk.  I have ignored a street corner beggar.  Yet Jesus empowers us to see ourselves and others as beloved by God.  How is your Christian eyesight?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus teaches his disciples about true greatness.  “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.  For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 43-45).  Yesterday, my wife asked me to pour her another cup of coffee.  I playfully responded “at your service”.  For disciples of Jesus, service is serious.  Serving others is doing God’s will.  Rather than pursue prestige or glory, Jesus did the will of God.  He devoted his life to loving care of the sick, outcast, loser, criminal, divorced, and all unacceptable.  Christians follow the example of Jesus by living their lives for others: a spouse asking for help, a relative struggling in marriage, a neighbor recuperating in the hospital, a friend recovering from an addiction, a migrant seeking asylum, and others reaching out for help.  How do you serve others?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus invites a rich man to sell everything and follow him.  He refused the invitation.  Then the disciples want to know what they will earn from following him.  I can relate.  I sometimes think that my wife owes me for the good things I do.  If I pour her a cup of coffee, I expect the same.  Love doesn’t work that way.  I may not get my cup of coffee.  Yet I receive blessings I could never earn.  Our sons are gifts from God.  Jesus promises us blessings we can never earn.  He invites us to follow his example of reliance on God.  He assures us of the countless blessings in this life and the next that come from complete trust in God.  How much do you rely on God?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus affirms the sanctity of marriage.  “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh”.   Spouses love one another as children of God.  They respect one another’s God-given dignity.  Mutual respect and trust constitute genuine love.  As my wife and I respect and honor one another, our love matures.  Respect for human dignity is the bedrock of Catholic social teaching.  Disregard or dismissal of anyone violates them.  God created everyone in God’s image.  Each of us is a child of God.  Christian love demands fair and just treatment for all, especially those in need.  Whether spouse, child, friend, neighbor, victim of violence, someone of a different color, all deserve loving care.  Do you treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of God?  How?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the disciples complain to Jesus others are driving out demons in his name.  Jesus tells them they do not have a monopoly on God’s saving work.  “For whoever is not against us is for us.  Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward” (Mark 9: 40-41).  God wants us to be kind to ourselves, family, friends, neighbors, and others.  God also wants us to be kind to those we find hard to love.  When I am kind to my spouse, I anticipate kindness in return.  Loving difficult people is harder.  Whether a hurt friend, a mentally ill relative, a displaced person, they all belong to Christ.  How are you kind to those whom you find difficult to love?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches his disciples about greatness.  The disciples were arguing about who was the greatest.  Jesus points to a child nearby.  “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me” (Mark 9: 37).  Children at the time of Jesus had no legal status; they were completely dependent on others.  The disciples would gain no money, prestige, or power from helping a child.  A Bible study friend recounted that hobos often joined her family for dinner.  Her parents fed the hungry men from the nearby railroad tracks.  When her father died, they all came to his funeral.  They recognized true greatness when they saw it.  Service to the most  vulnerable is the way to Christian greatness.  How do you care for those most in need in your family, community, the world?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus predicts his passion.  “He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’  “(Mark 8: 34).  Jesus tells his disciples that fidelity to God entails suffering.  Christian today accept suffering that comes from loving God, loving oneself and loving one’s neighbor.  Christians are not masochists.   We do not deserve suffering.  Yet suffering comes.   Love risks suffering.   Spouses care for one another when ill.  The chronically ill struggle to care for themselves and those they love.  Relief workers endure harsh conditions to care for hurricane victims.  Blessed Oscar Romero lost his life in defense of the poor.  For whom are you carrying the cross?