Do you converse with God? I hope so – and regularly. Have you ever questioned God? Job ponders that in today’s first reading from Job 9.
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 9:57-62, we hear what can be a rather disconcerting saying of Jesus. A guy says he will follow Jesus, but first he wants to go and bury his father. Jesus responds, “Let the dead bury their dead.” Another guy wants to follow Jesus, but first just wants to say goodbye to his family. Jesus tells him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Can’t bury my dad? Can’t even say goodbye to my family? What was Jesus thinking here?
Jesus’ words go back to the concept of old vs. new. Think of an addict. (Which is really a great analogy, because we’re all addicted to sin.) When an addict commits to getting clean, they cannot go back to the old neighborhood and start hanging with their old addict pals again. They must now move forward with their lives. Leave the old behind, never look back and get on to bigger and better things. Same for us. Once we commit our lives to Christ, we must move forward in faith, press on. So how about it? Are you ready to set your hand to the plow today?
Father, thank you for giving us the opportunity to set our hand to the plow and move forward in faith. Give us the strength and courage to never look back. Amen.
If Job were around today, he certainly would have been diagnosed with serious depression. In today’s first reading, he rues the very day that he was born. He knows that anything would be better than all the stuff he was suffering through. Yet through it all, he never curses God for his plight. In the Gospel today from Luke 9, we see Jesus coming to a Samaritan village, but they will not welcome him.
James and John ask Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus rebukes them. Haven’t you ever felt that way? Wanting to call down fire from heaven on someone? To be honest, I have. At times I know that I am in the right, like on life issues. Often when I hear people who seem hell bent on destroying life, on furthering the culture of death, I would LOVE to call down fire from heaven on them. How dare they think that taking innocent lives is OK, even moral! In my (little) mind, they deserve to be consumed by the wrath of God.
And then Jesus rebukes me. Although they are certainly mistaken, they are still God’s children, worthy of respect and dignity. I often forget that no one is beyond redemption; all may come to repentance and come to God. I have a feeling that James and John may have forgotten this, too. Thus the rebuke from Jesus. Perhaps the right thing to say would have been, “Lord, let us pray that they will come to know you.” Look at it this way – if you’re going to call fire down from heaven to consume sinners, you’d better be wearing an asbestos suit.
Father, forgive us for those times when we, too, wish to call fire down from heaven to consume our enemies. Give us a spirit of repentance, understanding and love. Amen.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – the Archangels. We truly celebrate all of the Holy Angels. Our readings reflect that. We have two options for the first reading. The first, from Daniel 7, contains a vision of heaven. Here we see “myriads upon myriads” attending to the Ancient One. In our other option from Revelation 12, we see St. Michael doing battle with Satan and his minions. I love this story…very macho stuff! In the Gospel today from John 1, Jesus speaks of “the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Being in radio, I have a special affinity for St. Gabriel. As God’s messenger, he is the patron of broadcasters and communicators. In recent years, I have developed a very strong devotion to St. Michael the Archangel. He is the heavenly warrior. You’ve probably seen images of him doing battle with and defeating Satan and his minions. Hoo-rah!
The reason for my devotion to St. Michael is my increasing awareness that we are in a spiritual battle – all day every day. My friend, there is a war going on. It is a war for your soul, and the souls of your children, family and friends. If we try to fight alone, we are doomed. That’s why God sent St. Michael. Call on him today, fellow warrior!
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 21, Jesus tells a story of two sons, each of whom was told by their father to go out and work in the vineyard.
The first son says, “I will not,” but then changes his mind and goes out to work. The second son says, “Yes, sir,” but then doesn’t go and work. Jesus asks the chief priests and elders, “Which of the two did his father’s will?” Of course, it was the first. Be sure to read Jesus’ retort after their answer.
For those who think that salvation is merely about saying some words, be it a sinner’s prayer or whatever, this passage should give them pause. Jesus makes it very clear that lip service is simply not enough. It is very easy to say to God, “I will do whatever you ask, Father.” The question is, do we do whatever He asks? (Hint: the key word here is DO!) It’s like the Catholic who goes into the confessional regularly, but never really has any intention of giving up that pet sin. God wants more than just words. That’s why, as Jesus said, tax collectors and prostitutes were getting to heaven before many others. The others said all the right words, but the tax collectors and prostitutes DID the will of God.
Father, forgive us for those times when we are full of hot air, but lacking in action. Give us the grace and strength to DO your will today. Amen.
Jesus said many things that His disciples did not understand. We see this in today’s Gospel reading from Luke 9. Jesus tells them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” They didn’t understand, and were afraid to question Him further about this.
In the first reading today from Ecclesiastes 11 and 12, we see more of the sacred author’s fatalistic view of life. He says, in essence, to enjoy your youth, cause the day will come when you will die. Hmm…seems to me we’re all on that track.
Youth is an interesting concept. When does our youth end? At 18? 21? When we get a job or get married? There are some who feel as though they never got to enjoy a “youth.” I submit to you that, in light of eternity, our entire time here on the planet is youth. So when Qoheleth tell us to enjoy our youth, I say we should consider that every day that God gives us – regardless of our age.
Father, thank you for the gift of life. May we relish our youth with every day that you give us. Amen.
Today’s first reading is from Ecclesiastes 3:1-11. “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens.” If you’re a baby boomer like me, you can’t read that Scripture without hearing “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds in your head. Not a bad ear worm to have! As a courtesy, here’s a link…click here to listen and check out the song on YouTube. In the Gospel from Luke 9, we see Luke’s version of Peter’s great confession of faith.
God has a plan. We all know that, right? But sometimes we may question God’s timing. Why did He have to take my child at such a young age? Why did I lose my job? Why (fill in the blank)? At the time that things are happening, we often can’t see the bigger picture. Hopefully, though, in retrospect, we can look back and get a glimpse of what God had in mind.
I think this is what the writer of Ecclesiastes had in mind. There is a season for everything in life, including the “bad stuff.” And that is the wisdom of God. If we were happy and well fed all the time, we would start to take the blessings for granted. We would no longer appreciate them. But when God sends those tough seasons of drought and storms, we come to a greater appreciation of those blessed times. I’ve found that those are actually the times of greatest growth. Know this: when we’re in a season of winter, we can rest assured that spring is right around the corner.
Father, we thank you for sending us different seasons in our lives. May we embrace each of them, whether they’re filled with lessons or blessin’s. Amen.
In the first reading today, we begin the book of Ecclesiastes. The book is something of a study in the futility of life here on earth. More in a moment. In the Gospel from Luke 9, we see Herod wondering about this Jesus character. He had heard much about him and was obviously very curious. It’s something that happens to a lot of us! We hear a lot about Jesus and feel the need to check him out!
Qoheleth, the Hebrew name for the writer of Ecclesiastes, says, “All things are vanity!” Just to make sure I got the idea, I looked up the word “vanity.” Here’s the definition that I think best fits…”something worthless, trivial or pointless.” This guy seems to have a really sour attitude about, well, everything. While I like to try to look at the positive side of life, I get what he is saying.
We need to be living for the eternal. If we spend our time here on the planet seeking fleshly pleasures, accumulating stuff, wasting time on unimportant things, yeah, that’s vanity. Pointless. We have a much higher purpose, a higher calling. We have to be sure that all we do is in response to that higher calling. How much time are we spending spinning our wheels chasing after things of the world? Vanity of vanities.
Father, help us to keep in mind our higher calling, our greater purpose; to serve you in all we do. May we follow that calling each day. Amen.
Today we are three months from Christmas! Consider getting the gift of knowledge of the faith for your church this year. You can get A Minute in the Church and/or A Minute in the Church Volume II for just $1 per copy when purchasing in bulk. Would your church be willing to invest $1 to evangelize and catechize people? Get details today at www.GusLloyd.com.
Gus began the day talking about what he believes are some the root causes of the spate of domestic violence cases today. The breakdown of the family and the large number of fatherless households are a great start. Gus took opinions from many listeners in a lively discussion.
Former US Senator Rick Santorum joined Gus to talk about his new gig as CEO of Echolight Studios. They’re producing high quality faith-based films and encouraging churches to get involved in showing them, either at the church or at local theaters. Rick also talked about their latest movie, One Generation Away. You can find out more about Echolight’s program by going to www.OneGenerationAwayMovie.com. You can also see the movie trailer there.
Finally, Gus talked about Pope Francis appointing a commission to look at simplifying the annulment process. He took calls from listeners who have been through the annulment process and asked them their opinion on how things could be better.
If you could ask God for just two things, what would they be? Solomon does just that today in our first reading from Proverbs 30. And in the Gospel from Luke 9, Jesus sends out the Twelve, telling them to take just the bare necessities to get by. The two readings really go hand in hand today. Why?
Here are the two things that Solomon asks…”Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need.” He explains, “Lest, being full, I deny you, saying ‘Who is the Lord?’ ” Solomon wanted only to speak the truth. And he knew that if God gave him too much, he risked falling into the sin of pride; thinking that he had acquired much on his own. Much wisdom, huh?
Jesus, of course, knew these things. He gave the Twelve authority as he sent them out, but told them to take only the bare essentials to get by. Why? So that they would know what it was like to depend solely and completely on God to provide for their needs. So that pride would not creep in. Funny…Jesus has that same idea for us. You know, that whole “give us this day our daily bread” thing?
Father, our prayer today echoes Solomon’s; help us to speak the truth and rely on you for everything this day. Amen.
So many of the Proverbs talk about our actions – how we respond to God’s call. That is certainly the case with today reading from Proverbs 21. “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
In the Gospel reading from Luke 8, Jesus’ mother and brothers come to see him, but can’t get in the house because of the crowd. So the people tell Him that they are outside to see Him. Jesus replies, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Jesus always liked to get to the heart of the matter. That is why He often spoke in family terms.
The family is the oldest unit in humanity, the bedrock of society. Now, some of us (perhaps many, even all) have dysfunction in our family. But the way it is supposed to work is like this: when everyone else has abandoned you, you can count on your family. This may not always pan out with our human family. But with our spiritual family, Our Father, God, our brother, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our Mother, Mary, it always works out that way. As Jesus says, when we hear the word and act on it, we’re family!
Father, thank you for calling us your children – your family. Help us today and every day to hear the words of Jesus and act on them. Amen.