Monthly Archives: September 2013

27th Sunday of the Year – A Good Servant


Study:  How can I share the time, talents, and treasure that God has given me?

Pray:  Where do I hear the Lord’s voice calling me today?

Serve:  Who has the Lord put in my life?  Who can I help today?

27th Sunday Readings

What does it mean to be a good servant?  The Gospel parable offers a simple illustration for our reflection today.  Each of us has work to do; our vocation (whatever it is) leads us to particular tasks and duties.  Let’s break it down:

* What does it mean to be a good person?
* How am I called to live in the world?
* How does my faith direct me to live?
* Who are the people I care for in my life?
* What tasks are set before me to do?

The fact is, we all have a part to play in this life.  We all have people to serve, work to do, and examples to offer to those around us.  These tasks may vary with our age, gender, education, and resources – but they are all part of God’s call to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The point of the parable is that we should not think that the work we do has special merit.  Just because the Lord blesses us with unique resources or gifts does not entitle us to privilege.  We are called to do our work, mindful that it is our part in God’s plan.

This means that we do our work with care, attention, and purpose.  We do this not because we seek special treatment, but because the Lord invites us to share our talents for the greater good of all.  It is not enough to go through the motions; we offer the best of our lives that we might make a difference!

As servants of Jesus Christ we are commanded to follow the Lord throughout this life until we are called home.  And when we stand before the Lord we will discover both what we did with our lives and what we failed to do.  In all this we live that we might be good servants – willing to carry out the task at hand.

We turn to our faith in our moments of need.  We pray that God will assist us in our times of trial, that we will offer the best we have in our service.  We look to the Lord for guidance and strength.  We trust that the Christ will never leave us.

It is this faith that sustains us when doubt and fear surface in our hearts.  It is this faith that supports us when we feel alone.  And it is this faith that becomes the bedrock for our service – that we might be good servants, following the Master’s call.

26th Sunday of the Year – Road Signs

Road Signs

Study:  In your personal life, what have been some of the best “signs” that have pointed you in the right direction?  Is it a person, an experience, or perhaps an activity?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the spiritual sight to recognize God’s signs within our daily lives.

Serve:  How might you be a source of direction and guidance for another?  How might your life point the way for another to follow?

26th Sunday Readings

I often am traveling in unfamiliar places.  Unsure of my directions, I am extra careful when it comes to reading the road signs; all it takes is one wrong turn to cause a delay or even greater confusion.

Road signs are important for travel.  They guide us, remind us of our distance and time, reassure us about our direction, and help us reach our destination safely.  These signs make certain that the trip will result in our timely and secure arrival.

We use signs in other parts of our lives as well.  We look for cues from one another in our relationships to show us if we are on good terms with others.  We have progress reports to help us assess how our work is going.  And we often ask for evaluations after programs to determine if the presentation was helpful.  All of these examples show us that signs aid us in living our lives in a healthy and happy fashion.

In the Gospel we hear the familiar story of the rich man and Lazarus.  It is a classic tale about the reversal of fortunes between this world and the next.  Yet the twist in this parable happens when the rich man, from the midst of his suffering, wants to go back and warn his brothers about their impending fate.  Abraham reminds him, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

This sobering statement reminds us that our choices result in consequences that hold us accountable.  Our words and actions make a difference, for good or evil, and the great power of our choices affects ourselves and others in many ways.

Yet Abraham’s reply can also fill us with hope.  We possess the Scriptures; we know the commandments God offers us.  With these signs we can journey through life aware of our opportunities and responsibilities.  God has given us everything we need to face our joys and sorrows in this world, and with these “road signs” we trust that we will be united with God completely in the eternal world to come.

25th Sunday of the Year – The Church in the World

Helping Hands

Study:  Do I use my resources justly and prudently?  Am I a good steward of what I have received?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for guidance to use the things of this world wisely.

Serve:  Is someone in need that you can help right now?  Is there a way you can make a difference in the life of another today?

25th Sunday Readings

The readings this week all have some bearing on the relationship between the Church and society.  This includes elements of social justice, politics, and wealth.  Here is a quick overview:

First – condemns those who cheat the poor
Psalm – God cares for the poor and lowly
Second – pray for civic leaders
Gospel – the unjust steward; the use of wealth

In the first reading the prophet Amos preaches against those who would take advantage of the poor.  Buying and selling are their concerns, even if it causes pain and suffering.  Amos reminds the people that God will judge!

The psalm shows both the glory of the Lord and his care for the poor.  God knows the needs of the oppressed, and the Lord will raise them up on the day of vindication.

The second reading exhorts the people to pray for all leaders, regardless of their beliefs.  Christians are commanded to pray for the good of the world, that peace and tranquility may exist here on earth.  We also pray that the world will come to know the Lord (and that begins with our hearts!).

Finally, in the Gospel we have two elements.  First we hear about an unjust steward, who has cheated and betrayed his master.  When told he will be dismissed, he takes matters into his own hands in order to insure that other people will welcome him.

Second, there follows a string of sayings on the right use of wealth.  These sayings point out that faith, integrity, and common sense will quickly be apparent, especially for those who practice good stewardship in their lives.

The fact is, we cannot cut ourselves off from the world; indeed, we profess that much of life is filled with blessings and gifts that are precious, holy, and wonderful.  HOW WE USE THIS WORLD is the challenge!

We are commanded to protect the poor and vulnerable.  We are called to pray for our leaders and work for a world of justice and peace.  We are challenged to be good stewards of all that we receive, mindful that the Lord gave it to us, and one day the Lord will take it back.

24th Sunday of the Year – Christ came to save sinners

Sacred Hear of Jesus

Study:  Recall a time in life when you experienced God’s presence.  How did it give you strength and direction?

Pray:  Offer those needs in your life that need the Lord’s grace.

Serve:  How can you reach out right now to someone in need?  Who has God put in your life?

24th Sunday Readings

The readings this week explore the theme of salvation from a variety of different perspectives.  We discover God’s desire to reach out to us in the following ways:

First – Moses intervenes, God does not punish
Psalm – prayer for a clean heart, steady spirit
Second – Paul’s example of grace
Gospel – 3 parables of God’s desire to save us

The first reading shows Moses responding as mediator between God and the wayward actions of the people of Israel.  Moses pleads for the people, reminding God of the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Because of Moses’ intervention the people are spared; this example of mediation foreshadows the saving work of Christ.

The psalm and response connect to both the first reading and Gospel.  Psalm 51 is a powerful penitential prayer which seeks to renew in the reader a contrite and humbled heart.  This psalm could have been the prayer of the people of Israel after they discovered Moses’ mediation!  The response is taken from the Gospel reading and links us to the parables of Jesus.

The second reading offers St. Paul’s example of grace as an invitation for ourselves.  In his own sin and weakness Paul experienced God’s mercy, and thus reminds us that Christ came to save sinners.  Here we discover the reason for the Lord’s mediation in our lives – to lead us out of sin and into life.

The Gospel this week is a series of three parables.  The first two are really “twins” which explore the same theme – God taking the initiative to seek out the lost.  The last parable (the Prodigal Son) addresses the various aspects of our reception of God’s grace.

In this last parable we see the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness (the Father); we recognize sin and penitence (the younger Son); and we discern animosity, anger, and a wounded sense of justice (the older Son).

Where do we fit in?  Where do we see the need for mercy in our lives?  Where do we recognize our own sin and temptations?  When have we felt wounded or betrayed by another?  God’s grace extends to us all – the Lord reaches out to us that we might have abundant life.

23rd Sunday of the Year – What is the Cost?

Price Tag

Study:  Take a close look at your personal calendar and checkbook and/or credit card statement.  Where do we spend our time and money?

Pray:  Is there a conflict of values in your life?  Ask the Lord for guidance and direction.

Serve:  How can I help someone today focus on the values and priorities that will bring true and lasting peace?

23rd Sunday Readings

I am not a shopper.  I am one of those people who takes pride in getting in and out of stores in the shortest period of time.  In fact, when I make my lists for the grocery or department store I often keep them on me, so that if I have a moment between meetings I can run and get what I need.

In my haste I find that I do not always pay attention to the price.  Later, I find in conversation that I could have gotten the item at a substantially reduced rate – if only I had paid attention to the cost.

We measure the value of most things by what they cost.  “What’s the price tag?” is a question that reveals our priorities and goals.  The cost of something AND our willingness (or unwillingness) to pay for it tells us much about what we think is important.

It is this notion of cost that surfaces in Luke’s Gospel today.  Jesus makes it very clear to the crowds that the cost for being a disciple is EVERYTHING.
*Our very Lives

All that we have and all that we offer belong to God, and it is the Lord who will demand everything back when we stand in the Lord’s presence on the day of judgment.

To follow Jesus, then, is to recognize that all that we have is God’s gift given to us.  We are merely the stewards of the Lord’s possessions – entrusted to take care of what God has given us during our lives here on earth.

When we recognize the real cost of following Jesus – everything we have and are – then we begin to see that all of life is a blessing that we have to use, but will never own.  This is just another way of saying that “we can’t take it with us” when we die.  The cost for following Jesus is the understanding that everything belongs to God, and everything will one day return back to the Lord.

As we continue to see all of life as belonging to God, we begin to discover a new freedom in how we live and use what we have.  Guided by this freedom, possessions no longer rule our lives; rather, they become instruments by which we help others and enjoy the blessing of our lives as gifts from God.

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