October 7, 2022
by George Butterfield
Creighton University-Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
Lectionary: 465

Galatians 3:7-14
Psalm 111:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6
Luke 11:15-26

Praying Ordinary Time


Praying the Rosary as Pope St. John Paul II Suggested

St. Paul teaches us something significant about the relationship between faith and works. It is not that works have no place in our lives. Giving to the poor, honoring your parents, taking care of the sick, working for justice - these are just a few of the many good works that we do as followers of Jesus. St. Paul wouldn’t deny how important it is for us to do these things. His question for us is: do you depend on these things? Do you think, I am right with God because I do them? If I depend on these things, he says that I am cursed. On what should I depend? Faith, he says, which basically means that I am depending on God and not myself. Some in his day depended on the works of the law so he presents as a model of how to live before God a man who lived before the law existed. Abraham depended on God; he was a man of faith. When you live like him, you will be blessed and everyone around you will be blessed, too. By trusting in God, we receive the Spirit which empowers us to do good works. So, we trust in God and do good works without thinking, I have to do all these things for God to love and accept me.

The psalmist focuses on works, but not ours. The important work done in this world is done by God. His works are great, exquisite, and powerful. What are his works? Majesty, glory, justice, grace, mercy, giving us food, remembering his promises to us, and giving us an inheritance. If I trust in him, I can do likewise.

In the Gospel, Luke tells us that some questioned the power by which Jesus cast out demons. They attributed his power to Satan. Of course, if that is true, then Satan is fighting against himself. No, Jesus says, it’s not that. What has happened is that the strong man, Satan, has been attacked and overcome by a stronger man who is now distributing his possessions, namely, reclaiming the demon possessed people who were being tortured by Satan’s followers. Jesus likens what he is doing to sweeping and cleaning a house. Jesus puts the house in order. However, if you don’t have the stronger man in the house with you, the strong man will retake possession of the property and make it much worse than it was before.

Jesus taught us, and the spiritual masters of the Christian faith have affirmed it, that we need to detach ourselves from things. Disciplines such as fasting, silence, and solitude can help sweep and clean our house. However, unlike most world religions that teach detachment - and we can learn a lot from them - Christianity also emphasizes the importance of attachment. Through faith, we have a relationship with God to whom we grow in closeness and trust. Thus, disciplines such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, worship, and service help keep the strong man in our house. We don’t depend on any of this for our righteousness before God; I cannot earn anything from God by what I do. Yet, these disciplines help me grow in faith and depend upon God, not myself. The irony is that the more I do these things, the less I trust in them and more in the God for whom these disciplines are intended.

We trust in God. We work like crazy. The strong man keeps our house clean and occupied. As the psalmist said, Great are the works of the Lord.

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George Butterfield <brcv31950@gmail.com>

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