In the Gospel for Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus heals a man on the way to a Sabbath dinner party at the home of a Pharisee. He wants the man included in the party. Since he was unclean with dropsy, the man would not be welcome. “Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees … , ‘Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?’ But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him” (Luke 14:3-4). Jesus demonstrates by this healing that God invites everyone into the banquet of God’s love. No one is excluded. The Pharisees should have invited needy people to their party. As disciples of Christ, we must witness to the all inclusive love of God. Christ wants us to care for the desirable and undesirable. As the holidays approach, consider inviting to your parties an estranged relative, a single mother with her children, a lonely young adult, a homeless person and others in need. How do you include the needy in God’s family?
In the Gospel for Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus expresses his loving care for the people of Jerusalem. He is moved with compassion for them. He compares himself to a mother hen. “How many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Luke 13: 34b). This image of loving care and warm protection reflects God’s care and protection of us. As God cares for us we care for others in Jesus’ name. Spouses care for one another, parents protect their children, neighbors watch out for the homebound, communities care for the indigent, and more. How do you experience God’s loving care?
In the Gospel for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Jesus selects the apostles. The day before “Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). Jesus seeks God’s help in discerning whom to choose. I imagine him in prayer going over the list with God. Jesus seeks God’s reassurance that he is making the right choices. Jesus then selects the apostles with confidence in God. Prayer helps me to discern what God desires. I relied on God to help me make the decision to marry. I often rely on God for guidance to resolve personal conflicts with my family, friends, and co workers. Jesus models prayerful reliance on God. How does prayer help you discern God’s will?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells a servant parable. “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: 37). The master returns home late from a wedding to find his servants waiting up for him. Filled with gratitude, the master serves them a late night snack. God is like this with those who remain faithful to Jesus. God lavishes love on those ready to serve others in Jesus’ name. One day God will welcome these faithful servants into the heavenly banquet. This parable reminds me of visiting my grandmother. Whenever I showed up at her door, she would feed me. I did nothing to deserve her kindness other than pay her a visit. Christian disciples help others just because they are children of God. How do you wait on others?
In the Reading for Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time, St. Paul reflects on the mercy of God. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7). Through Christ, God enriches our lives with mercy and love so abundant we cannot even measure it. These are the riches that matter to God. Overflowing with God’s mercy, we share it with others. In Jesus God loves us and we love others. God’s mercy begets mercy. How do you share the riches of God’s mercy?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Jesus encourages the disciples to remain faithful to God. He reassures them of God’s loving care even in the face of opposition. “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12: 6-7). If God orders the least expensive item (sparrows) on the menu and cares about how many hairs on a bald man’s head, surely God cares about us. How does God care for you?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus dines at the home of a Pharisee. His host notices that he does not participate in the ritual washing of the cup and dish before the meal. Jesus says that cleanliness inside is more important the cleanliness outside. “Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you” (Luke 11:40b-41). For Jesus almsgiving is more important than ritual. Almsgiving makes all things clean. Disciples of Jesus reach out to those in need. Christians raise money for hunger relief, care for a sick spouse, respect others’ differences, donate apples to a homeless shelter, encourage the downhearted, and give alms in other ways. Jesus wants us to give alms. How do you reach out to those in need?