30th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches thus that is we want to achieve great things, from a Christian perspective, we have to “aim low” in order to aim high. Practically everybody wants first class on the plane, but not everybody has the resources or the connections to get it. Why not forget about a seat you probably don’t deserve (or the person who’s sitting in it) and focus on the privilege of having a place on the flight at all? If you’re going on vacation upon arrival you’re going to care less about what seating you had on the plane.

When you realize that everything you have and are is a gift from God you realize that whatever you receive is a motive for gratitude. It won’t matter whether you’re sitting at the main table or on a folding chair by the service door: someone has thought of you and invited you to partake of their joy. Dissatisfaction comes when you think you’re entitled to a place at the main table and everyone knows your place in the banquet is not much beyond a folding chair by the service door.

The only thing worse than putting someone on a pedestal is putting yourself on one: it just makes the fall that much more embarrassing. Ask Our Lord today to help you grow in the humility to “aim low.”

Readings: Romans 11:1–2a, 11–12, 25–29; Psalm 94:12–13a, 14–15, 17–18; Luke 14:1, 7–11.

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord knows what’s on everyone’s mind, and he doesn’t duck the issue: is this Rabbi going to start breaking the rules again? The Pharisees are watching him and judging him. A dropsical man is sitting there, not even asking Jesus to heal him, maybe because it is the Sabbath. Dropsy is a painful swelling, an edema, and not something you’d want to put off healing. When Our Lord takes the Pharisees to task for possibly having a problem with healing someone suffering in that condition when they’d have no problem rescuing their son or cattle from falling into a well, he is driving home that God did not intend the Sabbath as a moment to rest from helping someone suffering or in need, and common sense proves that.

The Pharisees had no response. At least this time they didn’t decide to try and trip him up as on past occasions when he contradicted their teaching, because it was hard to refute his logic. In today’s society there are many things considered as givens because no one has the courage, upon examination, to question them. They remain with the status quo because it is more comfortable, but sometimes we need to go out beyond our comfort zone and embrace greater and uncomfortable truths that are the path to greater fulfillment. That doesn’t mean inventing new truths, but discovering the enduring ones behind everything we think and do.

If you feel scrutinized today because of your beliefs, don’t be afraid to turn that into an opportunity to share the Truth that will set those people free.

Readings: Romans 9:1–5; Psalm 147:12–15, 19–20; Luke 14:1–6.

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord discounts the empty threat of the Pharisees who say that Herod is out to get him. It may be true, but it is not part of his Father’s plan that he should die at the hands of Herod. Our Lord knows the designs of His Father are far greater than the designs of scheming men. He knows in his earthly mission that he will be bringing to fulfillment the mission of every prophet that testified to his coming: to bear God’s message to his people, and to suffer death for it due to their lack of faith. In his case, it’ll be different: when he mentions that “on the third day I accomplish my purpose” he is probably referring to the Resurrection, after which he’ll resume his place at the Father’s right side, and, as St. Paul reminds us in today’s First Reading, intercedes for us. Death will no longer work to silence the Word of God.

At the same time Our Lord is saddened considering all the prophets who’d gone before him and Jerusalem’s resistance to believing in him, both as God and as Messiah. At the heart of Jerusalem, David’s city and a testimony to the Messiah and all the prophecies concerning him, the Temple represented God’s presence among his people. Now God was present in the flesh, in Christ. When those who didn’t believe in Jesus turned their back on God’s designs through his Son it wasn’t long before that Temple was destroyed (70 A.D.) and never rebuilt: believers are what count, not buildings.

Our Lord is interceding for us right now at the right hand of the Father. Ask him for what you need, but ask him especially for faith and insight into whatever part of his plan he wants you to help him with. Believers not only second his plan, they help with it.

Readings: Romans 8:31b–39; Psalm 109:21–22, 26–27, 30–31; Luke 13:31–35.

Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles

Many people try to make a name for themselves, but in the case of Saints Simon and Jude, along with the rest of the Twelve, Our Lord made name for them, a name not only remembered for the many people named Simon or Jude in the world today, but for being part of that foundation on which Christ built the Church, as St. Paul reminds us in the First Reading today.

We know practically nothing about these apostles; their names even have to be qualified to avoid confusing them with Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. But we know that as Apostles they were sent out into the world to preach the Gospel, not concerned with making name for themselves, but for making Jesus Christ’s name known, and they persevered in their mission. Saint Jude is the patron saint of lost or desperate causes, and he has been known to intercede for the desperate throughout history.

Whether desperate or devoted, let’s celebrate these apostles today and ask for their intercession and zeal.

Readings: Ephesians 2:19–22; Psalm 19:2–5; Luke 6:12–16.

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord encourages us with the parables of the mustard seed and leaven to have faith and hope that the Kingdom of God is present, active, and growing. In faith we know that the Kingdom of God is present, as Our Lord taught, but not completely established. Even if everyone in the present moment of history were to be fully part and beneficiary of the Kingdom of God, it would only be a fraction of the good that Kingdom seeks to accomplish and has accomplished throughout history. It starts small, and often works unseen, but in faith we know it’s present and active.

In hope we know that the Kingdom will not only extend, but reach everywhere. It has extended, but as St. Paul reminds us in the First Reading, we hope for what we do not see, otherwise it wouldn’t be hope. It’s a spiritual reality that has, at times, visible effects, and in faith we know, as St. Paul reminds us, that all of creation is eagerly anticipating the Kingdom’s extension and perfection. In faith we know the ultimate fruits of the Kingdom for ourselves and all of creation–redemption and glorification–and in hope we press forward, knowing the Kingdom will triumph over sin and death definitively for all who welcome its presence and action.

Let’s pray with renewed favor the words we say every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom Come!”

Readings: Romans 8:18–25; Psalm 126:1b–6; Luke 13:18–21. See also 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B and 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.