Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Background: In contemporary America this Sunday’s set of readings is profoundly countercultural since only two decades ago we had a head of the Federal Reserve consistently assuring us that “Greed is good!” At this stage in his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus is once again calling our attention to the need to get rid of the excess baggage in our lives as we make the journey with him. There is nothing wrong with having adequate financial resources; but, in the end only spiritual things endure: love, joy, peace, patience, etc.
- What “things” am I clinging to since I see them as necessary to create the right image in society?
- Be honest with yourself! What things are you stingy about? And what things are you generous with? Why the difference?
- Which people in your life would you need to imitate if you really wanted to “put on a new self…in Christ’s image”?
- How is our society stacking the deck again the poor?
Practice: Panhandlers are annoying, but they are still our sisters and brothers. As a friend of mine says, it is our job to be generous with them, not to judge them—no matter how we suspect that our gift will be used.
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: After last Sunday’s warning about greed for earthly things, Jesus this Sunday calls us again to be aware of where our true treasure is—his kingdom of justice and love, generosity, and peace. And that call is scary, yet like Abraham and Sarah we must follow in faith that call to journey to a land we may not even know. In the end we do not really own things, we are merely the stewards of God’s blessings to us.
Note: we have ended our reading of Colossians and will now spend several weeks reading from the Letter to the Hebrews which tries to show how, just as the Jesus is one who makes sense of the Old Testament, so he is the one who makes sense of our lives
- What have you had to leave behind in order to get to this stage in your life’s journey?
- What do you treasure most in your heart?
- Who have been your best companions on your journey of faith? Why?
- What does our church or our society need to leave behind in order to move on to the next stage in our journey to God’s kingdom?
Practice: In mobile America a great number of people live far away from the elders in their families, from those people for whom age has hopefully brought deep wisdom. Yet we are surrounded by such people in our neighborhoods and parishes. Ponder which one you would really like to have a conversation with, and ask them to share with you what life has taught them. Don’t forget to thank them!
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: Jesus knows from personal experience how divisive the good news of the kingdom can be; we should not be surprised if we too are misunderstood. But it is not ours to judge those who disagree with us; that is God’s business. Fortunately, we are not alone but are surrounded by that “great cloud of witnesses” who have run and are running the race with us.
- Who has misunderstood your dedication to Jesus and his message? Why?
- Have you ever hidden or compromised that dedication? Why?
- For whom are you a witness and a support for living the good news?
- What is getting in the way of our church’s proclamation of the good news in our society today? What can we do about that situation?
Practice: The saints give us the witness of their lives and, in the communion of saints, the ongoing support of their care and prayers. As part of your spiritual practice this week, find out who the “Saint of the Day” is, ponder what their witness means to you, and ask for their help.
Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time
Background: The acceptance of the good news by the Gentiles does not mean the rejection of the Jews. Instead, anyone who wishes to follow Jesus on the narrow way is welcome. Yet that following must be a radical reorientation of the way we think about life. Trials and losses and disappointments can be God’s way of teaching us deep lessons about faith and hope and love. For the only key to unlock the door blocking the narrow way is the cross.
- Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem was constantly praying: “Thy will be done.” When have you been able to say those words and mean them?
- And when do you still struggle to say them? (It’s ok to get mad at God; just don’t give up on the conversation.)
- What burdens is God asking you to give up so that you can fit through the narrow way?
- “Hate the sin but love the sinner” too often becomes a way to avoid encountering the truth that another person is living while being blind to our own sinfulness. Which people has our society or church taught you that God is going to keep out of the feast of the kingdom?
Practice: Pope Francis had to answer “Who am I to judge?” because he had not encountered the people under discussion. How can you truly encounter a greater diversity of people? Once again ponder this week which person, whose life experience is different from yours, you might encounter in conversation. Be honest with them but not pushy!
See also these related articles:
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The 26th-31st Sundays in Ordinary Time
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The 22nd-25th Sundays in Ordinary Time
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The 18th-21st Sundays in Ordinary Time
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – The 13th-17th Sundays in Ordinary Time
- Reflection Questions for RCIA Seekers: Year C – Pentecost through the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time