Thursday, October 22, 2015 ~ Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint John Paul II, Pope
Holy Gospel: Luke 12:45-53 Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Meditation: Jesus challenges his disciples in today’s Gospel – and us as well – to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or family member. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. If you think that is impossible, think about the times, perhaps, you were on a family vacation or gathering and Sunday rolled around – some chose to worship God during Mass on Sunday, others chose to worship themselves by going to saint mattress of the springs. Arriving back home from Mass the inevitable discussion comes around that “we usually can’t make it to Mass.” Someone asks “why?” The usual responses “Oh, we’re so tired from working all week…” or “our son or daughter has sports practice that day or a game and we need to go to those…” or “we usually go to brunch on Sunday and don’t have time to get to Mass…” or “Sunday is family-time day so we usually do something together…” And so it begins – our loyalty to God and our loyalty to following the commandment “Keep holy the Sabbath” goes out the window as we seek personal comfort, the god of sports, or whatever reason people may give for not going to Mass on Sunday. Upon deeper reflection, then, we find that we are not “on fire” for Christ, we do not love God above all things, our faith may be lukewarm at best, and even though the love of Jesus Christ compels us to put God first in all that we do (ref. 2 Corinthians 5:14) we sometimes fail. While this may be the case in one way or another, or on one level or another, this mindset, this way of life is fixable. It begins by recognizing that we are the source of division, sin and separation since we chose people or things over Christ. Now all we need is to get back to living a life where we choose God above all things and live a life in Christ by following him instead of a ball (football, soccer ball, basketball, baseball, golf ball, volley ball, tennis ball, rugby ball, meatball, or even the occasional musings that come from that semi-circular ball that rests on top of our neck).
Prayer: O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that Saint John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: When Jesus spoke about division within families he likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: “a man’s enemies are the men of his own household” (Micah 7:6). The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ – the Son of God and Savior of the world – a loyalty that takes precedence over every other relationship. The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship (or anything else like sports) above God is a form of idolatry, and we have been told “You shall not have false gods before me.” Let’s keep all of this in mind the next time we are tempted to do something contrary to the way of God and his son Jesus Christ.