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?
In the Gospel for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus restores to life the son of the widow of Nain. When the dead man sits up in his coffin and begins to speak, the crowd is amazed. “Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, crying out ‘A great prophet has arisen in our midst,’ and ‘God has visited his people’ ” (Luke 7: 16). In Jesus and through his mission, God visits his people. God cares for those in need. Like the widow’s son, God liberates us from the prison of death. God promises us life after death. In this life God frees us by grace from things that hurt our bodies and kill our spirits. With our help God heals the cancer survivor, grieving widow, PTSD patient; feeds the hungry; and frees others burdened by life’s hardships. How is God restoring you to life? How do you help God restore others?
In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus feeds five thousand. The disciples want Jesus to send the hungry crowd away. ” ‘Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.’ He said to them, ‘Give them some food yourselves’ ” (Luke 9: 12b-13a). Jesus instructs them to collect the little food available and feeds everyone with leftovers. God continues to satisfy a hungry world with our help. God blesses us with children whom we feed. God blesses us with sunlight and rich soil to grow our food. God blesses us with an abundance to share with others. How do you help God satisfy hungry people?