Offers food for thought
Readings: Sirach 3:17-18.20.28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19.22-24a; Luke 14:1.7-14
God empowers us to achieve greatness, to succeed in establishing lasting legacies, and in so doing bringing glory to God. To receive this empowerment God invites us to embrace, as John Chriysostom said, “humility, the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue,”. For, as Jesus said, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
But what does humility look like? Humility opens the door to a real relationship with God and leads to interior peace and wisdom. The humble person knows he is not God but is dependent on God and surrenders to God in Christ. The humble person does not engage in battle for control of the world, according to perceived rights, but instead expresses truth in word and deed as works of loving God and loving neighbor. The humble person knows she is fallible, and so considers criticism and learns from it. The humble person also knows that God has made provision for human conviction and that he calls us to persuade others.
What does humility look like? Humility looks like Jesus Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”
Be sure to listen to the Homily for 22nd Sunday, for the full reflection!
Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7.11-13; Luke 13:22-30
Who will be saved? The message of Gospel is that there is not a single person, not a single people, nation, race, or class, which is excluded from becoming able to experience the love and liberation that God offers.
How to be ‘saved’?
The path to salvation, to abundant life… is through the “narrow gate”. We cannot enter through brute force, shear human will or government decree. The way is opened by the grace of God active within a person, who receives the gift of faith and desires to die and rise in Christ. Jesus saves.
To be “saved” means that we live and die in a close loving relationship with God and our neighbors. It is to share the vision of life that Jesus offered. It is both simple and difficult to do, but, as Jesus said “By this will all know you are my disciples that you love each other.”
Salvation, is it guaranteed? Jesus is saying is that no one, no matter who they are, has an absolute guarantee of being saved. How many of us can claim to have succeeded in walking the narrow way of unconditional and unremitting love? “As often as you failed to do it to the least of my brothers, you neglected to do it to me.”
Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. We are to proclaim to the whole world the Good News about God’s love. Everything about us is to be a proclamation to all those who hunger for a life of truth, of love, of justice, of compassion. Our hope, by God’s grace, is that those who hear the saving truth will respond as we have, by repenting, believing and being transformed.
I am a member of the Body of Christ… now what? We cannot take our friendship with Christ for granted. We have to consciously and continually strive to enter by the narrow gate.
What is the Meaning of "Strive" The Greek word translated as "strive" is "agonizomai" [agg-uh-nihd-zoh-my].
It has the connotation of a "make every effort", "try your hardest" and “supreme effort”. Our word agony comes from this Greek word, and was used to describe the contests in their Olympic games. They also used it to describe hand-to-hand combat with an enemy. We cannot strive with all our strength to follow Christ if we do not know Christ. Whatever each of us decides to do, let's make sure we decide to do something - depending not on our own strength, but on God's grace.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us exactly how we can apply this to our lives. When following Christ's path becomes uncomfortable, when his gate becomes too narrow, instead of looking around for shortcuts. "Endure your trials, as 'discipline' [allowed by God because we need them or because of our sins]... [and] make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed." God reminds us that there are no shortcuts; his will is the way the truth and the life by which we enter narrow gate, the only way to the fulfillment for which we were made.
Responsorial Psalm PS 117:1, 2 - R. (Mk 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
What does it mean to set the world on fire? It starts on the inside. It started on the inside of God, with the Holy Spirit the burning fire of love between the Father and the Son. It started on the inside of Adam and Eve. It started on the inside of the prophets and the people of God. It started on the inside of Elizabeth and Zachariah, John the Baptist, Joseph, Mary and Jesus. It starts on the inside of you and I. It’s a fire that grows in love, in service, in defense of the poor, of justice and truth. It spreads from one heart and soul to another.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the passion that will make the way for the Holy Spirit to come and set the world ablaze with God’s purifying love. You can ignore it and perish or you can become part of it and it will purify and transform you without destroying you. But the one thing you cannot do is to be neutral toward it. In choosing to receive the baptism by water and fire, God will become visible in you; speak through you; make you light and warmth for others and spread the fire of faith.
Jesus desires the whole of creation to be burning with the purifying fire of God’s love. But Adam and Eve created a division between God and man and so the fire dimmed. Every person that has or will ever live, is faced with the same choice in life. To receive or reject. To become part of the fire of God’s love, or contribute to putting out the fire. Jesus knew his mission, that in order for us to be saved from being consumed by the fire of God’s judgement and be able to be one within the fire of God’s love, he would have to submit to becoming the sin offering.
Jesus is in great anguish until his ‘baptism’ is accomplished
His immersion under the flood of God’s judgement against sin, would bring into effect the hope of salvation for all. Humanity was sentenced to eternal separation from union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Unable to sacrifice His perfect justice and holiness, the cost was necessary to be paid. But also unable to withdraw his love and mercy God could not allow everyone to be lost in eternal torment. Therefore the Father sent his only Son, and although, in his humanity Jesus experienced his suffering and death with great physical and emotional pain, he eagerly anticipated this “baptism”, this total immersion into his suffering, death and resurrection, because of love for us.
Sadly, the cross of our salvation becomes a stumbling block to some. It leads to division in the human family. The reasons for rejecting Christ are too many too name, but the result of this division is a history of man’s inhumanity to man.
Jesus comes not to ‘bring peace’ but rather ‘division’
True peace that surpasses understanding can only be experienced by those who repent and believe. Salvation is for everyone, but it is not without conditions, responsibilities and obligations. Those who refuse God’s offer of peace, those who are not for Jesus are against Him either directly or indirectly. The gospel necessarily divides people. Each of us is either found or lost. This is what it means when we say Truth causes division!
When by faith through grace we come to know that He is the eternal Son of God, we must follow Him, we must do what truth teaches, even if it leads to family division, because He is so much more worthy of our allegiance than even the closest of earthly ties.
Jesus is the manifestation of Truth, the very Word of God. He desires that the truth, that He be received and that having been baptized into this divine life, that we live it fully, a blazing fire that spreads and covers the entire world!
The Christian message is about God’s love and compassion which inspires harmony as it brings peace to individual souls, families and communities. It is meant to bring people together so that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female… But it also of its nature challenges injustice, corruption, discrimination, abuse, dishonesty and all attacks on human dignity. The Gospel truth comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.
When the Church, the Body of Christ preaches and lives the Gospel, conflict is inevitable – even though in no way desired or intended.
When all is said and done, to whom has my heart belonged.
In today’s gospel Christ urges us to be ready in a totally different way than that man. When we pass from this life into eternal life, we will understand fully the effects of our choices, our actions and our failures to act.
If we have treasured what God treasures, our hearts will be completely drawn into the heart of Christ and we will find ourselves at home. If we have not, then our hearts will be overcome with the knowledge of the cost of our sins and our hearts will be repelled by the heart of Christ. This is a central truth of creation.
When all is said and done, to whom has my heart belonged.
God’s will for us is to realize our true identity and purpose in Him which we can know by following the example of Abraham who himself set out on the journey not knowing where he was going but, by faith, obeyed the call and set out for the land of his inheritance.
Our life between conception and death is a journey. Most of the journey is for us a mystery which lies ahead and we cannot know all we will need for that journey. But God knows the path, the journey to which we are called and offers us all that we need to make the journey and reach our destination, our eternal home.
This pilgrimage of faith, for most of us, will be a constant struggle between sin and salvation. In our fear, our desire for security and our distaste for uncertainty we waver between establishing our own path to our own destinations, and the path of holiness to which God calls. But if that struggle is marked by a growing depth of Love of God and Love of Neighbor and an increasing commitment to building the kingdom of God, we will be ready with treasures of God in hand.
Essential to the success of our pilgrimage is the gift of faith that allows us to know with certainty that all the things God has revealed are true and which fills us with a certainty that God will fulfill his promises.
The stronger our faith, the more meaningful, joyful, and fruitful our lives will be. This is one of the lessons we learn from the example of Abraham who had to face many difficulties, but he always faced them WITH GOD, leaning on Him, not just depending on his own strength. As a result, he grew steadily in wisdom and holiness, and God was able to advance his plan of salvation through him.
You and I are just as able as Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Zipporah… because through spiritual adoption, we too are made children of God, heirs with Abraham, and inheritors of the promises of the covenant. Like Joseph and Mary, the Apostles and all the Saints we are no longer slaves to sin, but have become heirs of God through Christ. We enjoy full claim to the inheritance of the kingdom of God, and in that promise we are made able to stand fast in faith and embrace fully the liberty we receive through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and are challenged to never return to bondage.
We are witnesses of the fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah, for which the Israelites hoped. We are witnesses of the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit. We are witnesses of the fulfillment of all the promises made by Christ, save that promise of His second coming in glory for which all of creation groans with anticipation.
This is our treasure. God’s Love for us. The covenant. The promises. Our Adoption. Our Salvation. The Body of Christ, the Church. The blessings of God in Word and Sacrament. Grace. Freedom. Faith, Hope and Love. Justice. Mercy. Joy. Wisdom. Knowledge. Courage. Understanding. Right Judgement. Worship and Service.
Our Father desires us to guard this treasure and allow it to increase in us. Our Father desires that we refuse to lose this treasure through neglect, fear, laziness or by choosing to value lessor goods over these greatest goods.
If we are to be ready to more frequently, more powerfully and more fully encounter God, Father Son and Holy Spirit in our daily lives then we must cultivate every aspect of faith and relationship with God. If we are to be ready to meet God at the end of our days, then we must not store up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
St John of the Cross put it well: “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”
Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2,8-19; Luke 12:32-48
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.