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?