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Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Challenge of Wealth

"How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God." Mk 10:23

When social standing, wealth and power lead to blindness of spirit, they become impediments to knowing and loving God, and must be avoided or rejected. Only those, rich and poor alike, who see with the eyes of God and respond in justice to the poor deserve to be remembered, named and imitated. Every person, no matter how poor, has a dignity and importance in the reign of God. This is a great obstacle to many.

People of every generation, social class, race and culture need to remember that it is not our accomplishments or wealth that lead us to God, but our humility and love of all creation which save us. Jesus expresses this bluntly in today's Gospel. "It is easier for a camel to pass through [the] eye of [a] needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mk 10;24) When wealth blinds us to God's will and others' need, we are from the reign of God. Only a change of heart can help us.

Today, pray for anyone you may have dismissed because of their weakness, race or poverty.

How do you understand Jesus when he says that it is terribly hard for rich people to get into heaven?

Friday, October 12, 2018

Faith's Demands

"But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Gal 3: 24-25

St Paul is clear in reminding the earliest Christians that faith in Christ is not first of all a discipline or a series of obligations that, if observed, will insure salvation. Rather, faith is a free gift of God that must be freely accepted. It costs nothing but does have demands. Not only must we accept faith, we must also live it. Faith is a lifestyle. As God has given faith to us freely, we must also announce its benefits and obligations. In other words, we must spread it, give it away so that others might know the love of God.

While faith is not a discipline in itself, it requires discipline to live it. Faith calls us not to worry about our salvation and to be more concerned for others. It demands we be a light in the world so that others can come to know Christ. It is very simple, but never easy.

Today, pray for an increase in faith.

Who or what most helps you live your faith with purpose and passion?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Wrestling the Demons of Addiction

"Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house." Lk 11:16

No family is without its struggles and demons. Some live as best they can with addiction. Others wrestle with mental illness and abuse, and are forced, like the families of people with the unclean spirit, to watch their loved ones descend into chaos. Staying calm and peaceful in situations like this can feel impossible and overwhelming.

Often, moreover, it is the people without the addiction or mental illness who most need Jesus' steadying hand. Only when we summon the faith to let go and hand ourselves over to the Lord for direction and healing, will we find the courage to accept the things we cannot change and seek the wisdom of God to know what is possible. Jesus can be our healer, but we have to allow him to help us. When we wrestle with our own demons and shame without asking for help we are like people trying to hold back the tide. Getting some emotional distance from those we seek to help is sometimes our best strategy and gives us the distance to discern how to take the next best step for healing.

Today, pray for the families of people seeking to recover from addiction.

How do you handle the demons in your heart and family?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Intercessory Prayer

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Jesus is clear with his disciples. Do not be afraid of God. Don't think you can bother God, or pester him. God is waiting for us to draw close and to seek from him everything we need. While it is important to speak with God as a trusted friend, we must also realize that even our closest friends sometimes hesitate to help us, unsure of whether their response is really in our self interest.

In recent years, spiritual writers have tweaked our understanding of intercessory or petitionary prayer, urging us not simply to ask God for what we need or to help others, but to ask God to make us available to God for God's will for ourselves or others. This minor shift in how we pray can be very helpful in teaching us how to be for God and God's desire in all things.

We do this well in other areas of our lives. Think for instance of those times you asked a spouse or friend how you might help them in the kitchen or in preparing for a gathering. Anxious to do only that which will really help, we avoid imposing our suggestions upon others. Rather, we offer them our time and talent in a way they can use.

Today, ask God to make you available to God for God's work in the world.

What is it like for you when a friend offers to do anything you want?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Honoring God in Prayer

"Lord, teach us to pray." Lk 11:2

For believers, the first task each day is to acknowledge God and God's place in our lives. The Lord's Prayer both helps us remember this fundamental stance and teaches us how to do it. More often than not, most of us are ready to tell God our story, enumerate our needs and ask for help, but the Our Father reminds us that for the believer recognizing our dependence on God must always be our first desire and duty.

It is so easy in a world full of information and internet web access to think of ourselves in powerful terms. After all, we can ask Mr Google almost anything and receive 100 million possible answers within two or three seconds. Doesn't this indicate the growing control we have over the world as we know it?  While we do have access to more information than we could every process or interpret, knowledge without gratitude for the One who is all knowing does the believer little good.

Today, say the Lord's Prayer slowly and reverently.

If you, like the Apostles, could ask Jesus how to pray what would you expect him to teach you?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Knowing the Culture from which the Gospel Springs

"Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak." Lk 10:38

When Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha, Martha, busy about all the preparations for his visit, complained that Mary was not helping and wanted Jesus to correct her. Instead, Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part. What could Jesus possibly mean? Shouldn't we all help one another with the everyday tasks cooking and cleaning?

Over the years, many commentators suggest that Luke was writing about the so called active and contemplative life, but contemporary cultural insight helps us realize that sitting at a rabbi's feet was the role of men called to the rabbinate. Martha is angry because Mary is assuming a role to which she could not aspire. A woman's place was in the background helping with the ordinary chores, but Jesus challenges this stereotype, not just among men and women, but what it meant to be a rabbi. Teachers and leaders had to be servants, not privileged operatives with power over others.

Today, pray to learn how to be a servant of those most in need.

Whose life of humility and service most challenges you to be good news in everyday life?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Importance of Spiritual Practices

"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength,
and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." Lk 10:27

The scriptures are always trying to get us back to basics, to reclaim the foundational values of Jesus expressed in the New Testament. To do this well and with integrity we need to have spiritual practices that remind us each day about who we are and what we are to do in the world as Christians. It is one thing to say we love God and neighbor, but it is another thing all together to practice loving God and others through prayer and service.

Prayer is important because it is an exercise in which we acknowledge our total dependence on  God. Aware that living a faith filled life is a gift, we pause each day to honor the God who has given us faith and who sustains on our faith journey. Whether we recite a prayer we learned in childhood or ask in our own words for help to live the Gospel fully as disciples, we need to pray regularly. Just as a husband admits how important his wife is to his identity and well being, prayer helps us acknowledge that without God we are incomplete.

Today, express your love for God by quietly sitting in God's presence making yourself available for God's work.

What do you think are the most important spiritual practices in the life of a Christian?