Reflections for the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time 2011**
** These homilies were written by Fr. Howard in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
They refer to the daily readings for the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time 2011.
Sunday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
November 6, Matthew 25: 1-13
If we practice prudence and wisdom and do things the right way, God’s way, things will work out well for us. If, on the other hand, we do not act prudently we will see things in our lives collapsing.
The five foolish maidens in our Gospel for today did not act prudently in not taking oil with them for their lamps. And while they were fooling around doing what they should have done before, they missed out on what was important to them. The same thing may well happen to us if we fail to act prudently. One indication that we are missing the boat is experiencing a great deal of frustration in our lives. Frustration is the result of imprudence.
Lord, help us to do things your way and get it right the first time.
Monday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 7, Luke 17: 1-6
“And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith, and that could well be our own prayer for every minute of the day. Faith is believing in something we cannot understand. Faith seeks understanding. Faith has nothing to do with the five senses. I am believing something I cannot smell, feel, hear, see or taste. Faith is a giant leap into space with nothing to hang on to but God. We all need to increase our faith. And we wonder just how we go about doing this. I believe we begin by realizing our need and dependence on God. He tells us in the parable of the vine and the branches: Without me you can do nothing. And this includes believing. We must first of all be open to and desire God’s grace and help.
For me, this involves the 3rd Step of the 12 Steps of Spirituality. Once again, this 3rd Step reads: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. Faith and surrender go hand in hand. It is difficult to say I have faith in God if I am still in charge of things. When I surrender, I am putting God in control of my life, turning things entirely over to him.
The word “decision” comes from the Latin “decidere” and it means to cut out or cut away whatever is preventing me from doing what I want to do. To make a decision to believe is to do away with the obstacles that are preventing my believing. When we tell someone else to “cut it out” when they are bugging us, we are telling them to get rid of the nonsense and choose another way to act. Some of these obstacles to belief, for example, might be: choosing my way of doing things over God’s way, bad attitudes, pride, envy and so on.
Faith is also another one of those action words. Faith demands deeds or good works. In the Letter of James 2: 26 we read that faith without works is dead, nothing. So getting into trustful action is also a way of increasing our faith.
Lord, we pray, please increase our faith.
Tuesday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 8, Luke 17: 7-10
The Gospel chosen to be read for our Liturgy on this day really is dealing with the relationship between masters and their slaves. Slaves should not expect praise and rewards from the master for doing something they are obligated to do under their circumstances. We also see here the squelching of any idea that we can gain salvation all by ourselves strictly on human merit with no help from God’s grace. The Gospel informs us that we are unprofitable servants and, that being the case, we are dependent on divine intervention and grace for our salvation. Our salvation comes from God and not from anything we have done.
This Gospel, therefore, is against our carrying pride to the extreme that we are God. There are some people who think the sun rises and sets because of them. Sorry about that, Charlie Brown, it ain’t so.
Wednesday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 9, John 2: 13-22
Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran
The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest of the four major basilicas of the city of Rome. It is the official seat of the Holy Father and the Pope resided there for centuries. The Lateran is called the mother church of Christendom and the purpose of this feast, of course, is to remind us of the unity of all Christians with the Chair of Peter. Unfortunately we are far from what most of us imagine by unity in the Catholic Church today. Things are kind of helter-skelter right now. But this feast reminds us to pray for unity and for our Holy Father, the Pope. Personally, I don’t get too excited about some of the things that seem lacking in the Church with regard to unity today. It is Jesus’ Church and he has given us the care of it. But he is always there to help us.
I once heard a little saying and believe it to be true: There is nothing that is going to happen to me today that Jesus and I can’t handle together. I apply this same idea to the Church and its many problems. My job is to live the Gospel life and to pass it on to others in my little corner of this world. And let Jesus take care of the rest.
Thursday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 10, Luke 17: 20-25
“The Kingdom of God is among you.”
Today’s Gospel tells us the location of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel tells us not to run all over the place shouting, “Here it is!” or “There it is!” We won’t find it that way. Rather, Jesus tells us, the Kingdom of God is among you, it is within you. Each of you is the Kingdom of God. And if you wish to find it, look within yourself.
What do you see? Do you see greed, violence, rage, anger, envy, selfishness, all about me-ness, resentments, failure to forgive, revenge, lust, being critical of others and gossiping? If you look within and find these things, the Kingdom of God is not there.
But if you look within and find love, kindness, gentleness, understanding, service to others, prayer, peace, serenity, neighborliness, acceptance, and forgiveness you have found the Kingdom of God.
Today, look within. What do you see?
Friday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 11, Luke 17: 26-37
Our Gospel chosen to be read today continues on about the Kingdom of God and asks this question: When will God’s Kingdom reach its completion?
The Kingdom of God within us is something that progresses as we go along. I believe we can compare this progress of the Kingdom to our own growth. We have all been growing (sometimes in the wrong places) since the day we were born. We started out as little children eating Wheaties every morning so we would grow tall and strong like Jack Armstrong. And through the years we have grown, we have matured physically, mentally and spiritually. But through it all we have not yet reached full growth and maturity. This will happen, most probably, when we finally see our Lord Jesus face to face. In the meantime, we continue to grow and make progress in the virtues we listed yesterday that show that the Kingdom of God is definitely within us.
Do I honestly see myself making progress towards mature adulthood in the Kingdom? In which areas of my life is this taking place right now?
Saturday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 12, Luke 18: 1-8
This parable of the persistent widow appears only in the Gospel of St. Luke. Its purpose is to show us the necessity and efficacy of constant prayer. Constant prayer is calling on the Lord day and night. It is like carrying on a constant conversation with God. We need not wait until our night prayers to thank him for our day and its many blessings. We can be talking to him and thanking him as the blessings happen – or the trials or sufferings or the grief and the sorrow occur.
We thank God for whatever comes and we talk it over with him. We tell God how we feel; we ask his help often during the day. Things always seem to work out better when we ask the Lord to be present and help us. Praying constantly is not praying to an extreme. We do all the things we need to do during the day, but we keep Jesus aware of what we are doing and focus on his being present to us all during our day.
Lord, what would I do, where would I be, without you?