Reflection for Sunday, July 17, 2022: 16th Week of Ordinary Time.

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Dilly, Barbara
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|The verse that struck a chord with me today is Luke 8:15. "Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance."  It fits in with the Bible study and reflection I am doing these days. Our pastor asked everyone in my congregation to read the familiar book of Luke this summer and to try to find new ways to grow in faith. I have been working on understanding the gifts of the spirit defined in Isaiah in the Old Testament and linking them to Gospels. I want greater understanding of my gifts so I can develop them to be a more useful companion of Jesus. The gift of fortitude aligns well with perseverance for me. Fortitude is never ending perseverance. It is the courage to overcome fear and take risks as a follower of Jesus. It means we can accept rejection, verbal abuse, or physical harm for our faith.|Fortitude is a big spiritual gift in this verse in Luke, but if we look carefully, there are two other spiritual gifts at work here. Keeping the word with a generous spirit is easy with the gift of the fear of the Lord. It strengthens our desire to not offend God and to serve God out of more than a sense of duty. It arises out of love. It that sense, it is like the gift of piety, which means the willingness to worship and serve God is motivated by a profound sense of reverence for a loving Father. It is not difficult, then, to see where this verse helps us understand the faith of Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament story today and the faith of both Mary and Martha in the New Testament lesson. All were seeking to keep the word of God with a generous heart in one way or another. But Jesus reminded Martha that she should be motivated more out of reverence than a sense of duty.|As I reflect more deeply on what this means for me, I am challenged by this verse to strengthen my love for God more than growing stronger in my own resolve to become more useful. To avoid acting out of a sense of duty, I need to show more reverence and more generosity toward God in my heart first, and then I will no doubt be blessed with a greater harvest in the way that I keep the Word.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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