|Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.
Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time: Oct. 16 - 22, 2011
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The Twenty-Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
On the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time we see Matthew's gospel tell us of the Pharisee plot to set a trap for Jesus. This time they use politics to see if he will offend either Rome or the people. Should they pay Rome's census tax? Jesus pushes the challenge back to them: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” What is it they must repay to God that is God's? Their trust in Jesus -- God's gift to them.
Monday is the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Tuesday is the Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist, with its own special readings. Wednesday is the Memorial of Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs, and their companions, martyrs.
We continue with the second of four weeks of weekday readings from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This is Paul’s longest letter and was written from Greece as he prepared to visit Rome.
Our gospels continue with Luke’s Gospel and multiple stories of Jesus exhorting us to be prepared, to beware of greed and that our “life does not consist of possessions.” Jesus’ mission is to bring peace and healing. We are to be prepared for the times our Lord comes to us. Much is expected of us who have been entrusted with so much. Jesus has come to set a fire among us, which will probably also place us at odds with others, even others we love. Yet, Jesus calls us to read the signs of our times and to make peace with our opponents if we can. We are being fertilized to bear fruit.
Justice and compassion are keys to loving, in the readings for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Exodus proclaims God's call that we act justly toward foreigners, and the most vulnerable among us: widows, orphans and the poor. Jesus says it most simply: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. ...You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Daily Prayer This Week
This is a terrific week to ask for the gift of freedom. Each day, when we focus ourselves in the morning, and throughout each busy day, we can keep asking God to help us, to give us what we need to become freer. There’s freedom “from” and freedom “for.” We can ask to be released from what has a hold on us. If we ask, we can trust that God will give us the grace to understand the habits and desires that hold us back from intimacy with God. We can ask to be more honest with ourselves about them, and to grow in a desire to discover what we would be like without them. We can pray to be free for whatever God desires of us. If we express our desire to be placed at the service of others and to be able to give our lives away more generously, we can trust that God will let Jesus set our hearts on fire.
The Word helps us each week. Sometimes, one phrase or one story will carry us for several days. Other weeks, we will have to look back at the readings to hear a reminder, an encouragement, a call. I might stay with the words, “give to God what is God’s.” On a given day it might be a great grace to realize all is gift, including the members of my family, the gifts I’ve been given to do my work, the graces offered me this very day. If I hear the words of Jesus, “life does not consist in possessions,” we might ask him to show me how this is meant for me this week. Perhaps I will imagine myself as that tree that isn’t bearing much fruit. Instead of cutting me down, our Lord is patient and willing to nourish me and cultivate me, so that I can bear fruit.
All week, we speak with our Lord, friend to friend, expressing whatever is in our hearts. No matter how busy we are, we will grow in gratitude as see how much Jesus can do with our open hearts.
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