31st Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord presents the need to renounce the two most precious things in our life in order to be able to successfully follow him: our family and our life as it stands without him. If he calls us to follow him, it means putting other things on hold and embracing sacrifice and difficulty for something greater. When he teaches us today to hate our family and life as it stands he does not mean abandoning them or harming them; he means practicing a healthy detachment from them where God’s will comes first because God knows best and wants the best for everyone, including those we love.

If we don’t form this healthy detachment he warns us we may not have the spiritual resources to finish what we started or to succeed. He uses two images: a construction project discontinued for lack of funds, and a battle lost for not have sufficient forces to win or the foresight to seek a diplomatic solution instead. Everyone wants to build something with their life; Our Lord wants us to build a life with him, and he knows that requires the spiritual resources that only come from detachment, sacrifice, and discernment. Our life is a battle at times, a struggle to succeed, and detachment, sacrifice, and discernment are what enable us to succeed in what truly matters: love for God and love for others.

Let’s examine our lives today with the Lord’s help and see whether anything in our lives might be preventing us from being the success he wants us to be.

Readings: Romans 13:8–10; Psalm 112:1b–2, 4–5, 9; Luke 14:25–33. See also 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.

31st Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord responds to someone dining with him who speaks about the beatitude of Kingdom of God with the parable of a king inviting people to a great feast. They’d already been invited to the feast, and now servants were sent to tell them it was ready. Obviously these invitees had a closer relationship with the king than just being his loyal subjects: they were invited to come, and didn’t feel obliged to come. The invitees ask to be excused, but really just gave excuses not to come: they’d known when the great dinner would be held and had made other plans. They either didn’t want to go or were simply indifferent about going: that showed what they thought of their king, both as their ruler and as their friend. Something or someone else came first.

Abandoned by his friends, the king invited other members of his kingdom, but not on the basis of friendship, just on the basis of a benevolence a king owes his people. In the end he also invites his subjects who are complete strangers to him, perhaps people not even a part of his kingdom at all. They benefit from the great dinner, but they cannot take the place of those the king wanted to partake of it, his invitees, those he wanted to acknowledge as his friends.

The Kingdom of God is not just something in the future: Christ the King invites us right now to come to the great feast with every celebration of the Eucharist, to show us how much we mean to him and to lavish spiritual joy and refreshment on us. Does a vacation rental come first? Taking the new car for a Sunday drive? Spending the weekend with your spouse? Let’s show Our Lord what he means to us by coming to his banquet frequently, knowing that someday we’ll enjoy a great and eternal feast with him and with our family and friends. Let’s also be those servants who go out and invite others to come to the feast which is already prepared for them and waiting.

Readings: Romans 12:5–16b; Psalm 131:1b–e, 2–3; Luke 14:15–24.