A next step

You have to feel for the disciples. In recent gospels Jesus has been asking some fairly extraordinary things of them – to give away their possessions, to forgive countless times, to take up his cross, and the list goes on. No wonder then, they ask for more faith. They don’t feel up to what is being asked of them, are anxious about the challenges ahead, and just can’t imagine accomplishing what is being asked of them. Continue reading

A Final Thought

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. These ten verses of Luke 17 challenge Christians (a) not to be a hindrance to the discipleship of others, (b) to rebuke those who sin and forgive all who ask for forgiveness, and (c) and when you have done all this not to assume that you have done more than your duty.  These ten verses are a reminder that faithfulness, forgiveness and humility are required of those who would be obedient to the Word of Jesus.  Perhaps the first two are the most difficult to live, but the lack of humility is perhaps the more dangerous. It prevents us from experiencing the depth of God’s love and likely leads to a superior attitude and false spirituality that becomes an obstacle to the little ones and a barrier to being charitable in our forgiveness. Such a pitfall makes clear why St. Bonaventure wrote that humility is the guardian and gateway to all the other virtues.

Image credit: G Corrigan, CC-BY-NC 2.0

Graced Service

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we considered the nature of faith and what Jesus was asking of his disciples: understanding that faith allows God to work in a person’s life in ways that defy ordinary human experience. In today’s post we consider what that right understanding of faith will allow the disciples to do. Continue reading

When to Rebuke, When to Forgive?

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we considered the nature of sin and the consequences of leading others into sin. Again we consider the opening verse of Luke 17: 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” Continue reading

Things That Scandalize

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we looked at the ongoing context for Luke’s narrative. Today, although occurring just before the Sunday gospel reading, we will consider the opening verses of Luke 17: 1 He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Continue reading

Lessons from Suffering

Job was nearly crushed by the pain of suffering. He tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground when he heard that his children had died (Job 1:20). And yet in the midst of such pain and heartache, Job cried out.

Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21)

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Lessons for disciples

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Lectionary Cycle C. Throughout the previous chapter (Luke 16), Jesus has addressed the Pharisees and scribes (scholars of the law) with beginning and ending parables: the dishonest steward and the rich man and Lazarus – each begins with a statement, “There was a rich man.” The clear target were the lovers of money, i.e., those whose love of riches prevented them from truly being lovers of God. Although the parable is aimed at the Pharisees the lesson continues a theme of 12:1 “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.”  The disciples are reminded of the characteristics of true discipleship and the pitfalls along the way. Continue reading

Faith and Works

If you grew up in the South in the 1950s and 1960s and were Catholic, you were someone who needed to be saved, at least in the estimation of your Reformed, Protestant and Evangelical brothers and sisters. Anytime was the right time to ask “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” – at the post office, the gas station, or the local Piggly-Wiggly (and “yes” it is a real store and not a fictional name created for the movies). Continue reading

A Guide to Finding Faith

finding-faith-universeRoss Douthat, NY Times columnist and a committed Catholic, writes some interesting op-ed pieces – but are often religious essays about faith’s intersection with life lived in an ever secularizing world. In his Sunday essay, he writes:

The resilience of religious theories is matched by the resilience of religious experience. The disenchantment of the modern world is a myth of the intelligentsia: In reality it never happened. Instead, through the whole multicentury process of secularization, the decline of religion’s political power and cultural prestige, people kept right on having near-death experiences and demonic visitations and wild divine encounters. They just lost the religious structures through which those experiences used to be interpreted.

It is a long read, but completely worth your investment of time and thought.