Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Background:The journey to Jerusalem has begun; and, in Luke’s vision, it will not end until faithful believers have brought the good news of the kingdom/reign of God to the ends of the earth. This Sunday’s gospel selection makes that fact clear as it describes how early in that journey Jesus sent out not the twelve apostles but seventy-two disciples to share that message with others.
It is crucial to ponder his directions about what they are and are not to take on their journey. As Paul tells the Galatians, the only way to be a new creation in Christ is through sharing his cross. Some might be disturbed by the negative tone of some of today’s gospel, but the good news is a challenge and a choice, and choices have consequences. Yet that does not mean that God, like any parent, does not still love the children who make mistakes.
- Who first brought you to know the good news of God’s love for you? Did they do so more by words or by actions?
- Whom have you shared the good news with? With how many people have you really shared your relationship with Jesus?
- What baggage is weighing you down on your journey? How might you unburden yourself?
- When have you found joy in being a Christian?
Practice: Ponder in prayer the one person with whom you should share your relationship with Jesus. Then do so humbly, without preaching at them.
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: It is important to know the truth so that we can live our lives in right relationships. Yet knowing the truth of the good news will not save us; only active love of neighbor will. And, if we are not blinded by prejudices and stereotypes, there is always a neighbor in need. As Grandmother used to say, when you start feeling sorry for yourself, look around, and within three people you will be saying: Thank you, Jesus. Now how can I help?
With this Sunday we begin reading from the letter to the Colossians, one of the last letters in the Pauline canon. It is possible that it was not even written by Paul himself but by one or more of his disciples. Its themes will help us understand those of the journey section of Luke’s gospel. Even though Jesus has won the victory over sin and death for himself and his Body, the church, he did so “through the blood of his cross.” We should expect no less.
- What is the deepest love of your life? Honestly admit what it is that you value the most?
- How has that love brought you to know and to live your love of God?
- When has prejudice or stereotypes kept you from loving your neighbor? How is God calling you to open up your heart?
- How does or church or our society need to learn compassion?
Practice: What are you doing for others? Maybe it is time to join a service organization or to reach out to your neighbors? Or maybe in the midst of life’s busyness it is time to reconnect with your spouse or spend more time with your children? Look around, and within three people you will find somebody.
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: Last Sunday’s gospel selection taught us the importance of love expressed in action. That message is repeated in today’s story from Genesis where Abraham and Sarah spread an elaborate feast for three weary travelers and are rewarded with the promise of the child whom they had never had. Martha, one of Jesus’s dearest friends is involved in the same kind f hospitality; yet it is Mary whom Jesus praises and proposes to us as a model of discipleship. Again, in the midst of life’s busyness our actions must flow from our loving relationship with Jesus, and that relationship needs nourishment.
- What keeps you from seeing the needs of others, especially of those close to you?
- How can you help nourish not only not only other people’s bodies but their hearts?
- Where do you need nourishment? How will you find it in others? How will you find it in Jesus?
- How is Christ calling us, the church, the members of his Body, to carry on his mission of suffering in order to bring humanity to completion? What needs to change?
Practice: The word of God is a seed planted in the soil of our hearts over and over. If you do not read the scriptures regularly, you are missing the chance to bear more and more fruit. The daily readings are available online; make it a practice to ponder and pray over at least one of them a day. (Do not always skip the psalm!) Share this practice, if possible, with those whom you live with.
Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Background: The core of our Christian faith is that the Risen Lord Jesus is alive and active among us, the members of his Body, right now. Yet during his own life he too needed spiritual nourishment; and so, today we see him praying, trying to discern how this journey to Jerusalem will go. And his disciples ask him to teach them how to pray. Both his answer and the selection from Genesis show us that our persistent prayer can gain mercy and good things. Yet God is still God, and it is in the hallowing of God’s Name and in carrying out God’s will that we receive the best gift of all, the Holy Spirit within us.
Using the Genesis reading to preach against LGBTQ people would be both to misread the meaning of that passage and to practice the kind of exclusion that many of the gospels of the last few Sundays have warned us against.
- When have you had the courage to wrestle with God in persistent prayer?
- When have you found saying “Your will be done” to be liberating?
- What good thing do you refuse to share with others? Generosity is not only about money.
- Love of others is not only an individual endeavor; our common efforts can often be more effective. How could our society be more caring, even of those whom we tend to marginalize?
Practice: As you ponder and pray over your day, conclude each petition, worry, or care by repeating several times: “Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!”