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Before we can understand the role faith plays, we have to get our own role in this parable right. When the disciples said, “Increase our faith,” they were not the servants. They were making a request, and Jesus is now telling them how to have it granted. The only way to increase our faith is to conform ourselves to God’s will, so we become one with him and become heirs of his power. Jesus is describing the proper relation between the creator and his creation. The creator does not have to be grateful to his creation for simply doing what the creator commanded. In the same way, the one who has faith does not doubt the creator’s abilities. So all this time, in asking for faith, I have been doubting what God can do. Jesus is inviting me to flip the script to see that all of creation is at his command, and when a miracle happens–the person of faith expects nothing less from God, because that’s just nature doing what it is obliged to do, which is to obey its creator.

The more I meditate on Scripture, the more layers of wisdom I see. The first layer is: Be grateful for the blessings God has already given us and don’t expect more. But underneath that is God’s invitation to be like him, to have creation under our command by doing his will. That is the only way we can be granted such a command, but God still offers it to those who are humble enough to know that all power has been given to us through him–and through him alone. 

 

PRAY

Lord,

I now see how I do in fact have faith smaller than a mustard seed, but I hear you calling me and offering me more faith. It’s there for the taking. I just have to take the leap. I have seen enough proof, yet I still hesitate. The time is now. Enough with the tests. It’s time to take the graces you have already given me and put my faith to the test, and to stop putting you to the test. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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“have pity on me”

The moral of this parable is to not wait until it’s too late. When I lack faith, I doubt the consequences of my sin. It’s easier to live a life that way, I say. But there’s always a dead end. Sin does not possess the same infinite qualities that goodness possesses. This is something we can recognize in this life. We don’t have to wait for the afterlife to see sin as a dead end. When the rich man says, “have pity on me”, he missed his chance. Justice is like gravity. Sooner or later, the scales have to balance. We can’t cheat justice or the truth. Eventually, they catch up to us. If I slip and fall off a cliff, God is not going to suspend the laws of nature that govern his entire universe simply because I shout “have pity on me!” as I’m falling. By then it’s too late. But perhaps we think Father Abraham is being harsh when he says, “They have Moses and the prophets”

PRAY

Dear heavenly Father,

Through prayer, I can discover your will while here on earth, and avoid the torments described in this Sunday’s Gospel. Thank you for the wisdom you teach me. Help me to recognize the truth as I live on earth before it’s too late. Spare my loved ones from the torments of hell, and teach me to be a witness to them to help lead them to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones. ~ Luke 16:10

Humility is a theme that runs through many of Jesus’ teachings. We may think we know what humility is, but as soon as we try to exemplify it we run the risk of being insincere in our attempts. Who doesn’t want to be considered trustworthy in great matters? Perhaps someone who has true humility. Someone who has true humility will know that he has to start out small and work his way up. In considering himself unworthy to take on larger responsibilities, in Jesus’ eyes, he is actually exactly the right candidate to be entrusted with more. Humility has many attributes, but one of its most important attributes is austerity or simplicity. Humility is okay with having just a little, and in valuing the treasures of heaven over the treasures of the earth. Trustworthiness is a treasure of heaven. Greed, on the other hand, gets in the way of one’s attempt to be trustworthy, because greed tends to chip away at our desire to earn someone’s trust, as we value some earthly treasure over that someone’s trust. 

Jesus’ calling to be humble highlights the value of desiring a small part over desiring a large one. His advice complements the passage about the banquet gathering we heard a few weeks ago, when he said to take a lowly seat rather than seeking an esteemed seat. In both instances, Jesus is calling us to be humble enough to claim a lowly position in our lives, to not assume we are important. Then, when others see that we value more than our own esteem, more opportunities will present themselves.

Lord Jesus,
I call you my master because you love me. You are the only one who has truly given me all that I seek. Why I so often go away and look elsewhere, I do not know. I’ve tried serving other things, I’ve tried living a life of autonomy. None of it compares to the joy of just being in communion with you, under your command. Your command is gentle, clever, inspiring. It doesn’t even really feel like you’re commanding me when I do your will. It just feels right. In Jesus’ name I pray.

 

 

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Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep

God desires for everyone to come back to him, even those who were never part of the Body of Christ, the Church. In today’s culture, there is a crisis of fallen away Catholics. They are lost sheep, but so are those who never believed. Rejoice, Christ says, not only when a fallen away Catholic comes home but also rejoice when someone who never believed comes to the Church, since they also were lost and now are found. A nonbeliever may have never had a home in the Church, but Jesus still calls nonbelievers his lost sheep as well. We all are his sheep and we all belong to him. We all belong to the one true shepherd, who wills for all of us to be saved. 

PRAY

Dear Lord,

As I aim to be a good witness for you and your kingdom for others, keep me humble. We all need you. My goal in sharing you with others is to simply show them the great nourishment and blessings I’ve received from you, so they can share in them. Like a sheep who has found greener pastures, inspire and teach me how to show people the way to those pastures. Thank you for all you have given me, and show me how to share it with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.

Holding onto things has become our way of life. Storage unit facilities are being built more than ever before. We have savings accounts, trust accounts, broker accounts, and the list goes on. None of these things are wrong or bad or evil, but there is something better. We can give up all of these things and still be okay. Excessive concern for our possessions will make us lose sight of what is infinite and eternal. Ultimately, renunciation of the treasures of this world is at the heart of the Gospel. Earlier, Jesus used a short analogy of a king going into battle. Whenever a king (or these days, a general) went (or goes) into battle, he knows there is great risk involved. He has to calculate and mitigate the risk the best he can. History has proven though, that “fortune favors the bold”, and if you take no risk you receive no reward–and in fact taking no risk is the greatest risk of all. Okay, I’m done with my litany of cliches. My point is, that living the Gospel is the ultimate risk. It is the ultimate high-stakes game. It’s the boldest wager we can bet because we are putting all we have on the line for a reward we’ve never even really seen. In the end, we don’t even know if the reward will really come to us. But this is the condition for following Jesus. Are you all in?  

PRAY

Dear heavenly Father,

Your message is clear: unless we love you above all else we will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Oh, how I struggle to put you first. I cannot pray enough to ask for your help in this matter. Through your blessed angels and saints, please grant me the grace I need to pursue only what is true, good, and beautiful; and to stop running from you. You know my heart’s truest and deepest desires better than I do, so it makes the most sense to love you more than I love myself or anyone else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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