Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection: Luke 12: 16-21

What causes disputes and what’s the best means for settling them?  What is the point of Jesus’ story about a wealthy landowner and why does he call him a fool?  Jesus does not fault him for his industriousness, but for his egoism and selfishness. Like the rich man and Lazarus, he had lost the capacity to be concerned for others.  His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. His death was the final loss of his soul!  In the parable of the rich fool Jesus gives a lesson on using material possessions.  His lesson contains a warning to beware of all covetousness.  To covet is to wish to get wrongfully what another possesses or to begrudge what God gave him.  Jesus restates the commandment do not covet, but he also states that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.  In this little parable Jesus probes the heart — where is your treasure? Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus.  The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. What do you treasure most?

 

Gospel Reflection: Luke 10: 25-37

What would you do if your neighbor got into big trouble through his or her own fault? For the Jewish believer the law of love was plain and simple: treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself. A Jewish expert in the law wanted to test Jesus and His disciples to see if they correctly understood this basic commandment.  He understood “neighbor” to mean one’s fellow Jew who belonged to the same covenant which God made with the people of Israel. Jesus agreed with the sincere expert but challenged him to see that God’s view of neighbor went beyond his narrow definition.

Jesus told a parable to show how wide God’s love and mercy is towards all. Jesus’s story of a brutal highway robbery  was all too familiar to His audience. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho went through a narrow and steep valley surrounded by cliffs.  This narrow highway was dangerous and notorious for its robbers who could easily ambush their victim and escape into the hills.  No one in his right mind would think of traveling it alone.

Why did the religious leaders refuse to give any help when they saw a victim lying by the roadside? Didn’t they know that this victim was their neighbor?  And why did a Samaritan, an outsider who was despised by the Jews, treat this victim with special care at his own expense as he would care for his own family? Who showed true neighborly care, compassion and mercy? Jesus makes the supposed villain, the despised Samaritan, the merciful one as an example for the status conscious Jews. Why didn’t the priest and Levite stop to help? The priest probably didn’t want to risk the possibility of ritual impurity. His piety got in the way of charity. The Levite approached close to the victim, but stopped short of actually helping him. Perhaps he feared that bandits were using a decoy to ambush him. The Levite put personal safety ahead of saving his neighbor.

What does Jesus’ story tell us about true love for one’s neighbor? First, we must be willing to help even if others brought trouble on themselves  through their own fault. Second, our love and concern to help others in need must be practical. Good intentions and empathizing with others are not enough. And lastly, our love for others must be as wide as God’s love. No one is excluded. God’s love is unconditional. So we must be ready to do good to others for their sake, just as God is good to us.  Are you ready to love your neighbor unconditionally?

 

Gospel Reflection:  Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28

Does the peace of Christ reign in your home and in your personal life? Jesus loved to visit the home of Martha and Mary and enjoyed their warm hospitality. In this brief encounter we see two very different temperaments in Martha and Mary. Martha loved to serve, but in her anxious manner of waiting on Jesus, she caused unrest. Mary, in her simple and trusting manner, waited on Jesus by sitting attentively at his feet. She instinctively knew that what the Master most wanted at that moment was her attentive presence. Anxiety and preoccupation keep us from listening and from giving the Lord our undivided attention. The Lord bids us to give him our concerns and anxieties because he is trustworthy and able to meet any need we have. His grace frees us from needless concerns and preoccupation.

Do you seek the Lord attentively? And does the Lord find a welcomed and honored place in your home?

 

 

Gospel Reflection:  Luke 8: 26-39

Do you ever feel driven by forces beyond your strength? A man who was possessed and driven mad by the force of many evil spirits found refuge in the one person who could set him free. Both Mark and Luke in their Gospel accounts of this incident describe this demonic force as a legion (Mark 5:9 and Luke 8:30). A legion is no small force – but an army 6,000 strong! For the people of Palestine who were often hemmed in by occupied forces, a legion – whether human or supernatural – struck terror!

Jesus took pity on the man who was overtaken by a legion of evil spirits. The destructive force of these demons is evident for all who can see as they flee and destroy a herd of swine. After Jesus freed the demoniac the whole city came out to meet him. No one had demonstrated such power and authority against the forces of Satan as Jesus did. They feared Jesus as a result and begged him to leave them. Why would they not want Jesus to stay? Perhaps the price for such liberation from the power of evil and sin was more than they wanted to pay. The Lord Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the love of God.  Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from his love and saving grace?

 

Feast of St. Michael, The Archangel

Tuesday, Nov. 8th—Liturgy @ St. Michael Parish   –  10:00 am.

St. Michael the Archangel – the names Michael signifies “Who is Like God” and was the war cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against Satan and his followers.  Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as “one of the chief princes,” and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell.  He has been especially honoured and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of  the Apostles.

Rejoice, Michael, the great Commander, with all Heavenly Powers

 

Gospel Reflection: Luke 16: 19-31

One of the reasons this story is so powerful is because of the clear descriptive contrast between the rich man and Lazarus. In the first contrast, the rich man’s life seems much more desirable, at least on the surface. He is rich, has a home to live in, dresses in fine clothing and eats sumptuously every day. By contrast, Lazarus is poor, has no home, has no food, is covered with sores and even endures the humiliation of dogs licking his wounds. Which of these persons would you prefer to be?

When they both die, they experience very different eternal fates. When the poor man died, he was “carried away by angels.” And when the rich man died, he went to the netherworld, where there was ongoing torment. So again, which of these persons would you prefer to be?

One of the most seductive and deceptive realities in life is the lure of riches, luxury and the fine things in life. Though the material world is not bad in and of itself, there is great temptation that goes along with it. In fact, it is clear from this story and from the many other teachings of Jesus on this topic that the lure of riches and its effect on the soul cannot be ignored. Those who are rich in the things of this world are often tempted to live for themselves rather than living for others. When one has all the comforts this world has to offer, it’s easy to simply enjoy those comforts without concern for others. And that is clearly the unspoken contrast between these two men.

Though poor, it is clear that Lazarus is rich in the things that matter in life. This is evidenced by His eternal reward. It is clear that in his material poverty, he was rich in charity. The man who was rich in the things of this world was clearly poor in charity and, thus, upon losing his physical life, he had nothing to take with him. No eternal merit. No charity. Nothing.

 

Gospel Reflection: John: 18: 33-37

Our gospel for today  is about Jesus as the Christ the King.  It depicts the reality about the true Kingdom of God. Pontius Pilate is like a coward asking Jesus over and over again if He is a King and yet Jesus answered him in wisdom.

There is no doubt that Christ is the King of all kings. His Kingdom is not from this earth but it is in heaven for all eternity. “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me safe from the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” This is very clear that Jesus wanted Pilate to understand His role her eon earth.

It is very clear that John 18:33-37 wanted us to realize something. In this world where it is full of hatred and corruption, there is hope. Our leaders may fall to the pit of power and authority yet, we must always remember that God is the ultimate ruler. Power and status here on earth is meaningless.

 

Gospel Reflection:  Luke 7: 11 – 16

Why was Jesus so moved on this occasion when He met a widow and a crowded funeral procession on their way to the cemetery? Jesus not only grieved the untimely death of a young man, but He showed the depth of His concern for the woman who lost not only her husband, but her only child as well. The only secure means of welfare in biblical times was one’s family. This woman had lost not only her loved ones, but her future security and livelihood as well.

The scriptures make clear that God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone– He desires life, not death. Jesus not only had heart-felt compassion for the widow who lost her only son, He also had extraordinary supernatural power – the ability to restore life and to make a person whole again.  Jesus, however, did something which must have shocked the sensibilities of the widow and her friends. Jesus approached the bier to make physical contact with the dead man. The Jews understood that contact with a dead body made oneself ritually unclean or impure. Jesus’ physical touch and personal identification with the widow’s loss of her only son not only showed the depths of His love and concern for her, but pointed to His desire to free everyone from the power of sin and moral corruption, and even death itself. Jesus’ simple word of command – “Young man, arise” – not only restored him to physical life, but brought freedom and wholeness to his soul as well as his body.

Jesus is Lord not only of the living but of the dead as well. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins He also triumphed over the grave when He rose again on the third day, just as He had promised His disciples. Jesus promises everyone who believes in Him, that because He lives (and will never die again), we also shall have abundant life with and in Him both now and forever.

 

Do you trust in the Lord Jesus to give you abundant life and everlasting hope in the face of life’s trials, misfortunes, and moments of despair?

 

Gospel Reflection: Luke 6: 31-36

When someone acts in hate toward you and mistreats you, the last thing you want to do is love them, bless them and pray for them.  But Jesus is very clear on the fact that this is what we are called to do.

In the midst of some direct persecution or malice done to us, we can easily be hurt.  This hurt can lead us to anger, desires for revenge, and even hatred.  If we give in to these temptations, then we suddenly become the very thing that hurt us.  Sadly, hating those who have hurt us only makes things worse.

But it would be naive to deny a certain interior tension we all face when we are confronted with harm from another and the command from Jesus to love them in return.  If we are honest we must admit to this interior tension.  The tension comes as we try to embrace the command of total love despite the hurt and angry feelings we have.  

One thing this interior tension reveals is that God wants so much more for us than to simply live a life based on our feelings.  Being angry or hurt is not all that enjoyable.  In fact, it can be the cause of much misery.  But it doesn’t have to be.  If we understand this command of Jesus to love our enemies, we will start to understand that this is the path out of the misery.  We will start to realize that giving in to hurt feelings and returning anger for anger or hate for hate only makes the wound deeper.  On the other hand, if we can love when we are mistreated, we suddenly discover that love in this case is quite powerful.  It’s love that goes way beyond any feeling.  It’s true love purified and given freely as a gift from God.  It’s charity at the highest level and it is a charity that fills us with an abundance of authentic joy.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Though Thanksgiving Day is not specifically a Catholic holy day, it certainly goes hand in hand with our life of faith.  Spiritually speaking, we all know that gratitude is central to the Gospel message.  Thanksgiving Day presents us with the perfect opportunity to look at this particular aspect of our faith.  We are called to be eternally and deeply grateful.  How grateful to God are you?

Perhaps we all struggle in various ways with gratitude.  It’s fair to say that we will never be grateful enough until we are perfected in Heaven.  But, for now, it’s important to look at gratitude and to try to let it increase in our souls.

First, we will never be grateful unless we see clearly all that God has done for us.  It’s so easy in life to focus in on all the struggles we face and, as a result, to get down, depressed, frustrated and even angry at times.  What’s far more challenging is to look beyond the crosses and burdens we face each day to see the abundance of grace and mercy given to us by our Lord.  Unless we see that mercy and grace, we will struggle greatly with authentic gratitude.

 

So on this Thanksgiving Day, reflect upon this simple question: Do I see all God has done for me?  Do I see His abundance of mercy alive in my life?  The Gospel passage above reveals that Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one of the ten returned in gratitude.  Are you like one of the nine who failed in gratitude?  If so, you most likely struggle with seeing all the true and abundant blessings from God.  If you can humbly admit you struggle with total gratitude, you will have taken the first step to seeing more clearly and the first step to fostering the deeper gratitude you ought to have.  Being grateful means you see the truth clearly.  Be open to that truth and God will change your life as He fills you with joy!