Friday, October 5, 2007

Sunday, October 7 ~ Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 17: 5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. "Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down at table'? Will he not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"

Personal Reflection

We all wish to hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." We are called to be saints, but do we really believe that? Sometimes saints seem so holy that the status is unattainable, but we are each truly called to sainthood. How does one become a saint? We do what is expected of us. Like the servant in the Gospel above, we do what is expected, and we are not expected to perform miracles.

True, the Church has chosen to recognize those saints whose holiness has been exceptional in some way in the canonization process, but all that means is that the Church is certain the person is in Heaven. Holy Mother Church blesses us by choosing verifiable saints to set as examples for our lives today. Some are exceptional, but those are the ones we remember the most. If you really look closely, most are pretty normal, like us. If we get to Heaven, we will be saints, regardless of whether or not the Church canonizes us.

So, let us go back to the Gospel. How do we please God? We do our duty. What is my duty? Do I embrace my daily tasks as conduits of holiness? Or do I wish my life was different in some way, so I could be holier? How do I fulfill my obligations in a way that glorifies God? Do I need to reevaluate my attitude towards my call to holiness? Do I view sainthood as unattainable? Can I imagine growing holier as my life continues? How?

Is my faith at least as large as a mustard seed? Do I berate myself when my faith is not stronger? How can I trust simply in the Lord and be satisfied with my faithfulness? Do I truly believe I can "move mountains" with my meager faith? Or am I stuck in our culture's obsession that it might not be quite good enough? When will it ever be enough? How can I recognize my faith for the simple gift from God that it is and be content to merely uproot sycamine trees and replant them in the ocean?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007 ~ Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 16: 19-31

"There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom. And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

Personal Reflection

The part about this Gospel that amazes me the most is Abraham's insistence that miracles are not necessary for people to believe. Often I find myself begging God for some sign or obvious guidance to confirm or refute a decision I have made or must make. My husband and I have joked, on occasion, that we need God to hit us over the head with a 2x4 for us to know what to do. It is said in good humor, but there is a lot of truth to the point that it is difficult for me to discern God's will in my life when choosing between two or more good things.

I wish for a sign, but what I should do instead is hope to hear the Lord's voice more clearly. When big decisions are looming in my future, I feel as if I am stabbing in the dark at an answer. The real answer is to work on my relationship with Christ, so I can discern His voice. Since He is my shepherd, I should be able to distinguish His voice amidst the chaos of indecision, just as a flock of sheep follow the voice of their protector and no other.

How much do I hope for signs of God's love? existence? mercy? etc? Do I know people who receive such signs? Instead, how can I learn to better recognize the loving voice of my Creator? Do I depend on Christ's guidance? Do I hear His voice clearly? When in my life have I heard His voice most clearly? What was my spiritual life like to enable such intimacy? How can I gain that intimacy today?

Are there people in my life, family or friends, who are not believers? Would a miraculous sign really change their mind? What can I do to help them hear the voice of God without such a sign? What is my obligation in bringing Christ to others and leading them towards Heaven and away from eternal torments?