26th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

The sending of the Seventy-Two in today’s Gospel is reminiscent of the sending of the Twelve. In the Acts of the Apostles Luke also recalls the Apostles commissioning the Seven (Acts 6:1-6). Each of these groups has a particular role, but together the show the Church beginning to grow and expand. With the calling of the Seventy-Two Luke shows that even in Our Lord’s time on earth there was more work than the Twelve could handle. They learn this lesson and aren’t shy about appointing the Seven when the need arises.

Everyone is called to help in the work of evangelization and the building up of the Church, but not necessarily in the same way. Our Lord made distinctions based on needs, and so throughout history the Church has also called others to aid the bishops as the successors of the Apostles: priests and deacons.

Let’s keep all sacred ministers of the Church–bishops, priests, and deacons–in our prayers today.

Readings: Nehemiah 8:1–4a, 5–6, 7b–12; Psalm 19:8–11; Luke 10:1–12.

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday

It’s hard to leave the things you know and love behind. We all crave security. In the First Reading Nehemiah misses his home country, but puts on a brave face until the king asks him why he is so sad, and he reveals to him his desire to return to Jerusalem from exile and rebuild. Nehemiah doesn’t want to ask, because he knows the exile is God’s will, but the Lord puts it in the king’s heart to perceive that something is wrong and indicate that his will is now for Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild. The time of exile is over.

In today’s Gospel there are disciples who want to help Our Lord, but without sacrificing a place to call home and being with their loved ones. He makes them choose. They won’t forget what or who they’ve left behind; it’s the very act of leaving someone or something behind that makes their discipleship fruitful. It would be cruel if it were not for a greater good, not only for them, but for those they love. Everyone has a place in the Kingdom of God that awaits them, but not everyone can reach it alone. We wouldn’t rest until our families and friends could achieve it, but that shouldn’t limit us to just seeking it for them. Therefore Our Lord calls us to help the friendless as well.

Our Lord knows the best way to help those we love. Let’s ask him today to show us, even if it implies sacrifice.

Readings: Nehemiah 2:1–8; Psalm 137:1–6; Luke 9:57–62.

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday

In the second part of today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that God’s designs are mysterious, but always for the good. The disciples catch someone invoking Christ’s name to cast out demons who is not currently in the company of the disciples. Yet God blesses that someone because anyone who is for God is for God’s followers.

Even today among Christians there exist sad divisions that prevent us from living a full and visible communion, but Our Lord blesses everyone who believes in him to some degree and enables him to do good. The important thing is to praise the good being done and pray for the greater good: full and visible Christian unity.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for all the good he does through all believers who identify themselves as Christian, and let’s pray for the restoration of full visible unity between all Christ’s followers.

Readings: Zechariah 8:1–8; Psalm 102:16–23, 29; Luke 9:46–50. See also 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B and 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us about the power of charity and the gravity of sin. Just as the Lord poured out his Spirit abundantly on the elders in today’s First Reading, so he wants to pour out a Spirit of charity on all believers. Something as simple as offering a cup of water in acknowledgement of Christ is pleasing and powerful in his eyes. This should re-dimension the power of charity in our lives. It doesn’t mean being minimalist–just sticking with a refreshments table–but being generous, aware of the power of charity on a greater scale to move hardened hearts, jaded cultures, and cynical societies.

Our Lord also warns us about the gravity of sin. St. James in the Second Reading warns those who’ve profited at the expense of others that any gain at the expense of charity is the deepest loss for them. Our Lord also warns those who turn someone else from the path of charity to the path of sin: sin puts a spiritual millstone around our necks that one day will drown us in our bankrupt lifestyle unless we seek his help to to liberate us. When we find ourselves in a situation of spiritual life and death a radical response is necessary to survive: if may feel like we’re hacking away a part of ourselves, but in that moment that piece of us to which we’re attached could cost us our spiritual life because we want to hang onto it at the expense of the rest of us.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us make a radical response in the face of our sins and return to the path of charity in order to unleash its power for others.

Readings: Numbers 11:25–29; Psalm 19:8, 10, 12–14; James 5:1–6; Mark 9:38–43, 45, 47–48.