So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom
little is forgiven, loves little.
Luke 7

Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time: Sept. 12-18, 2010

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Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

God's loving mercy and forgiveness to us is the central message in Luke's Gospel for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Knowing that his audience includes not only the sinners but also the judgmental religious leaders, Jesus offers three parables about mercy, ending with the powerful story of the Prodigal Son. The father says to the jealous older son, “You are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

Monday is the Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church. Tuesday is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, with its own special readings. Wednesday is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Thursday is the Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr.

In our first reading, Paul's wonderful First Letter to the Corinthians continues to feed us with powerful messages about good community behavior, the Eucharist and the mystery of the Resurrection.

We experience more of the beauty of Luke's Gospel this week. Jesus heals the slave of a Roman officer, praising the officer's faith. He encounters a widow whose only son had died. “He was moved with pity” and raises the son from the dead. Jesus tells the people how inconsistent their responses are. At a dinner, Jesus encounters a weeping, sinful woman who washes his feet with her tears.“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.” We hear that Jesus is accompanied by a group of women “who provided for them out of their resources.” Jesus tells the parable of the sower and breaks it open for a large crowd of listeners.

On the Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time Jesus tells the parable of the unjust steward who finds out he's been caught squandering his master's property, and goes out and makes deals to make friends for the future. Jesus acknowledges his prudence and calls us to have, at the very least, prudence about our future. “If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?”


Daily Prayer This Week

This is a good week to imagine how much we are like Jesus' disciples. We clearly want to be his follower, and we do follow him. The humbling reality is that we are inconsistent. At the very time that Jesus is telling us that he wants us to find ourselves by losing ourselves, we are too often being competitive and trying to be on top somehow. Fortunately, he keeps telling us about the real meaning of discipleship. Paul lays it all out in this week's first readings. The parable of the sower is quite helpful this week. How healthy and rich is the soil of our own souls? Can we feel the longing we have to make our hearts more receptive to the message of Jesus?

Each morning, as soon as we can after waking up, perhaps associated with some automatic behavior like putting on slippers or a robe or getting a cup of coffee, we begin the day in the presence of our Lord. We can get into the habit of greeting our Lord, “Good morning, Lord. Thank you for this day.” Even if we didn't have a good night's sleep and we are waking up fairly tired, this habit can part of our routine. Naming our desire for the day can become the way we begin our day with the Lord. Repeating it, with more details, as we encounter the people and responsibilities of our day, will deepen our relationship with the Lord. Brief conversations (what we normally call “prayers”) sustain the connection all day.

In one circumstance this week, I might say, “Lord, here I am being that very hard ground. Please get through to me in the part of me that is still 'receptive soil.'” Another day, I might catch myself trying to make myself look good and I can say, “Dear Jesus, your reminder helps me right here. Let me be a servant in this situation, with these people - forgiving, listening, compassion and freer.” Sometime this week we might encounter someone who needs us to be like Jesus - healing something that is broken, or even deadly and we can say, “Lord, let me do your will, imitate your faith in God here. Thank you for being with me.”

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