Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

It’s Never Too Late

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

“Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’  They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’”  Matthew 20:6-7

This passage reveals the fifth time in one day that the owner of the vineyard went out and hired more workers.  Each time he found people idle and hired them on the spot, sending them to the vineyard.  We know the end of the story.  Those who were hired late in the day, at five o’clock, were paid the same wage as those who worked all day long.

One lesson we can take from this parable is that God is exceptionally generous and it is never too late to turn to Him in our need.  Too often, when it comes to our life of faith, we sit around “idle all day.”  In other words, we can easily go through the motions of having a faith life but fail to actually embrace the daily work of building up our relationship with our Lord.  It’s much easier to have an idle faith life than one which is active and transforming.

We should hear, in this passage, an invitation from Jesus to get to work, so to speak.  One challenge that many face is that they have spent years living an idle faith and do not know how to change that.  If that is you, this passage is for you.  It reveals that God is merciful to the end.  He never shies away from bestowing His riches on us no matter how long we have been away from Him and no matter how far we have fallen.  

Reflect, today, upon the level of commitment with which you are living your faith.  Be honest and reflect upon whether you are more idle or hard at work.  If you are hard at work, be grateful and remain committed without hesitation.  If you are idle, today is the day our Lord invites you to make a change.  Make that change, get to work, and know that our Lord’s generosity is great.

Lord, help me to increase my commitment to living my life of faith.  Allow me to hear Your gentle invitation to enter into Your Vineyard of grace.  I thank You for Your generosity and seek to receive this freely given gift of Your mercy.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Loving Those in Need

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”  Mark 9:36-37

What is it about the image of a child that helps Jesus illustrate an important point?  The answer to this question must be understood as a contrast between one who is like a child and one who holds a worldly view of greatness.

A child is one who is poor, dependent, humble and in need.  A child cannot take care of his/her own needs.  Rather, a child needs the care of parents.  So it is with us in our relationship with God.  

We are not considered great by being independent, powerful, well respected, successful, etc.  This is a worldly view of greatness.  The Apostles, in this passage, were arguing about who was the greatest.  Jesus, in pointing to a child, shows them that greatness is not about what you accomplish or the like; rather, greatness is found in becoming dependent upon Christ.  Additionally, it is found in seeking out those who are in need (as a child is in need of care) and offering the love and care others need.  It’s a call to compassion and concern for the poor and needy among us.

Reflect, today, upon whether you are ready and willing to reach out to those in need among you.  Who are they?  What is their need?  Do you seek them out and offer love and support?  Doing this is what will make you truly great in the eyes of God.

Lord, may I seek You in the poor, the brokenhearted, the sinner and all those in need.  Please fill my heart with compassion and concern for others.  Jesus, I trust in You.

God or Money?

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

“No servant can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and mammon.”  Luke 16:13

Many people dream of being rich.  Having a lot of money brings with it a certain amount of security and freedom to do many things that most people could not.  Money, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad.  If one is rich, that is fine.  If one is poor, that is fine.  From the perspective of God, the amount of money you have matters little.

With that said, the danger with money comes when you allow it to become your “master.”  Interestingly, even those who are poor can allow money to become their master when they allow the desire for more to dominate their lives.  The key is in the desire and the healthy detachment.

What are you attached to?  Are you attached to the money you have?  Are you attached to the desire for the money you wish you had?  The goal is to see money for what it is.  In the big picture, money has very little value.  It’s a means to the end of taking care of your daily needs but can never become the source of your joy and fulfillment in life.  Only God is the proper Master of our hearts and only He can fill you with true riches.

Reflect, today, upon any struggle you have with being overly attached to money, or the lack thereof.  God promises to provide for you in your need, so it’s essential that you trust Him.  And if your financial needs are more than met, be grateful and cultivate generosity as you seek to detach from money as a false source of happiness.  Let your heart only be filled with the rich grace of God as its source of fulfillment and you will be rich in the truest sense. 

Lord of all, help me to keep You as the one and only Master of my life.  Give me the grace I need to detach from all that is of this world, so as to live for You and in accord with Your will alone.  I love You, dear Lord.  Help me to love You above all else.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Shining Brightly

Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”  Luke 8:16

We all need to “see the light.”  One way that happens is when others act as shining lights of Christ for us.  And one way that others around us “see the light” is when we are shining examples of the light of Christ for them.

This passage reveals our duty to be the light of Christ to a world in need.  It is clear from this passage that when we enkindle the flame of Christ in our hearts, the effect is that Christ shines forth through us for others to see.  Jesus says that “No one who lights a lamp conceals it…”  In other words, if you are not shining with the light of Christ, it’s not because you are hiding Him, it’s because He is not burning in your soul.  When He is burning in your soul, the light cannot be contained.  

This basic truth is a great source of discernment for us in regard to our relationship with Christ.  Basically, if Jesus is alive in our lives, if we are living a true relationship of love with Him, then we will be able to see the effect in the lives of those around us.  We will be able to see that light shining forth on others. The effect of Christ shining through us will be like a mirror to our own souls.

Reflect, today, upon those around you and ponder the question of what effect your love of Christ has on their lives.  Do you see others being drawn into a love of Christ through you?  If not, look within your own heart and seek to rekindle the fire of God’s love.

Lord, come burn within me, setting my heart on fire with Your love.  I desire that my heart becomes a blazing fire through which many are drawn to You.  Use me, dear Lord, as You will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Jesus’ Family

Tuesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”  Luke 8:21

Perhaps you’ve wondered what it would be like to have a powerful and famous family member.  What would it be like if your sibling or a parent were the President of the United States?  Or a famous athlete?  Or some other famous person?  It probably would be the source of a certain joy and pride in a good way.

At the time Jesus walked on the Earth, He was becoming quite “famous,” so to speak.  He was admired and loved and followed by many.  And as He was speaking, His mother and brothers (which would have most likely been cousins) showed up outside.  No doubt people looked at them with a certain respect and admiration and perhaps even a bit of jealousy.  How nice it would be to be Jesus’ actual relative.

Jesus is quite aware of the blessing of being His own kin, part of His own family.  For that reason He makes this statement as a way of inviting everyone present to see themselves as an intimate member of His family.  Sure, our Blessed Mother will always retain her unique relationship with Jesus, but Jesus wants to invite all people to share His familial bond.  

How does this happen?  It happens when we “hear the Word of God and act on it.”  It’s that simple.  You are invited to enter the family of Jesus in a deep, personal and profound way if you but listen to all God says and then act on it.  

Though this is simple on one level, it’s also true that it’s a very radical move.  It’s radical in the sense that it requires a total commitment to the will of God.  That’s because when God speaks, His words are powerful and transforming.  And acting on His words will change our lives.

Reflect, today, upon the invitation of Jesus to be a member of His intimate family.  Hear that invitation and say “Yes” to it.  And as you say “Yes” to this invitation, be ready and willing to let His voice and His divine will change your life.

Lord, I accept Your invitation to become a member of Your intimate family.  May I hear Your voice speak and act upon all that You say.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Dealing With Rejection

Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”  Luke 9:5

This is a bold statement from Jesus.  It’s also a statement that should bolden us in the face of opposition.

Jesus had just finished telling His disciples to go from town to town preaching the Gospel.  He instructed them not to bring extra food or clothing on the journey but, rather, to rely upon the generosity of those to whom they preach.  And He acknowledged that some will not accept them.  As for those who do in fact reject them and their message, they are to “shake the dust “ from their feet as they leave the town.

What does this mean?  It especially tells us two things.  First, when we are rejected it can hurt.  As a result, it’s easy for us to sulk and stew over the rejection and hurt.  It’s easy to sit and be angry and, as a result, to allow the rejection to do us even more damage.

Shaking the dust from our feet is a way of saying that we ought not allow the hurt we receive to affect us.  It’s a way of making a clear statement that we will not be controlled by the opinions and malice of others.  This is an important choice to make in life when facing rejection.

Secondly, it’s a way of saying that we must keep moving on.  Not only do we have to get over any hurt we have, but we need to then move on to seek out those who will receive our love and our message of the Gospel.  So, in a sense, this exhortation from Jesus is not first about dealing with the rejection of others; rather, it’s primarily about seeking out those who will receive us and will receive the message of the Gospel we are called to give. 

Reflect, today, upon any hurt you still carry in your heart because of the rejection of others.  Try to let go of it and know that God is calling you to seek out others in love so that you can share the love of Christ with them.

Lord, when I experience rejection and hurt, help me to let go of any anger I have.  Help me to continue with my mission of love and to keep sharing Your Gospel with those who will receive it.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Holy Curiosity

Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. Luke 9:9

Herod teaches us both some bad qualities as well as some good ones.  The bad ones are quite obvious.  Herod was living a very sinful life and, ultimately, his disordered life led him to have St. John the Baptist beheaded.  But the Scripture above does reveal one interesting quality which we should try to imitate.

Herod was interested in Jesus.  “He kept trying to see him” the Scripture says.  Though this did not ultimately lead to Herod accepting John the Baptist’s original message and repenting, it was at least a first step.

For lack of better terminology, perhaps we can call this desire of Herod a “holy curiosity.”  He knew there was something unique about Jesus and he wanted to understand it.  He wanted to know who Jesus was and was intrigued by His message.

Though we are all called to go much further than Herod did in the pursuit of the truth, we can still recognize that Herod is a good representation of many within our society.  So many are intrigued by the Gospel and all that our faith presents. They listen with curiosity to what the pope says and how the Church reacts to injustices in the world.  Additionally, society as a whole often condemns and criticizes us and our faith.  But this still reveals a sign of its interest and desire to listen to what God has to say, especially through our Church.

Reflect, today, upon two things.  First, reflect upon your own desire to know more.  And when you discover this desire don’t stop there.  Allow it to draw you close to the message of our Lord.  Secondly, be attentive to the “holy curiosity” of those around you.  Perhaps a neighbor, family member or coworker has shown interest in what your faith and what our Church has to say.  When you see that, pray for them and ask God to use you as He did the Baptist to bring His message to all who seek it.

Lord, help me to seek You in all things and at all times.  When darkness closes in, help me to discover the light You have revealed.  Then help me to bring that light to a world in great need.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”  Luke 9:18c-20

Peter got it right.  Jesus was “the Christ of God.”  Many others spoke of Him as one who was only a great prophet, but Peter saw deeper.  He saw that Jesus was uniquely the Anointed One who is of God.  In other words, Jesus was God.

Though we know this to be true, we can sometimes fail to fully comprehend the depth of this “Mystery of Faith.”  Jesus is human, and He is God.  This is hard to comprehend.  It would have been hard for those of Jesus’ time to comprehend this great mystery, also.  Imagine sitting before Jesus listening to Him speak.  If you were there before Him, would you have concluded that He is also the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity?  Would you have concluded that He existed from all eternity and was the great I AM WHO AM?  Would you have concluded that He was perfect in every way and that He was also the Creator of all things and the one who keeps all things in being?

Most likely none of us fully would have comprehended the true depth of the meaning that Jesus was “the Christ of God.”  We most likely would have recognized something special about Him, but would have failed to see Him for who He is in His full essence.

The same is true today.  When we look at the Most Holy Eucharist, do we see God?  Do we see the Almighty, Omnipotent, All-loving God who existed for eternity is the source of all good and is the Creator of all things?  Perhaps the answer is both “Yes”  and “No.”  “Yes” in that we believe and “no” in that we do not fully understand.

Reflect, today, upon the divinity of Christ.  Reflect upon Him present in the Most Holy Eucharist as well as His presence all around us.  Do you see Him?  Do you believe?  How deep and complete is your faith in Him.  Recommit yourself to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is in His Godhead.  Try and take a step deeper in your faith.

Lord, I do believe.  I believe You are the Christ of God.  Help me to comprehend even more what that means.  Help me to see Your divinity more clearly and to believe in You more fully.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Meaning in Suffering

Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  Luke 9:44-45

So why was the meaning of this “hidden from them?”  Interesting.  Here Jesus tells them to “pay attention to what I am telling you.”  And then begins to explain He will suffer and die.  But they did not get it.  They did not understand what He meant and “they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.”

The truth is that Jesus was not offended by their lack of understanding.  He realized that they would not immediately understand.  But this did not stop Him from telling them anyway.  Why?  Because He knew that they would come to understand in time.  But, at first, the Apostles just listened in a bit of confusion.

When did the Apostles come to understand?  They understood once the Holy Spirit descended upon them leading them into all Truth.  It took the workings of the Holy Spirit to understand such deep mysteries.

The same is true with us.  When we face the mystery of Jesus’ sufferings, and when we face the reality of suffering in our own lives or the lives of those we love, we can often be confused at first.  It takes a gift from the Holy Spirit to open our minds to understand.  Suffering is most often inevitable.  We all endure it.  And if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, suffering will lead us to confusion and despair.  But if we allow the Holy Spirit to open our minds, we will begin to understand how God can work in us through our sufferings just as He brought salvation to the world through the sufferings of Christ.

Reflect, today, upon how well you understand both Jesus’ sufferings and your own.  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the meaning and even the value of suffering?  Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for this grace and let God lead you into this profound mystery of our faith.

Lord, I know You suffered and died for my salvation.  I know that my own suffering can take on new meaning in Your Cross.  Help me to more fully see and understand this great mystery and to find even greater value in Your Cross as well as mine.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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