Sunday, October 18, 2020
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
by The Faithful Disciple
GROW AS A DISCIPLE | PRAY, STUDY, ENGAGE, SERVE
GROW: I took up distance running some years ago, thanks largely to a group of friends who encouraged me along the way. We’d share the peaks and valleys of our lives as we tackled rolling hills. Those long runs come to mind when I hear Paul give thanks to the Thessalonians for having “endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul here speaks of hope in Jesus ¬– a hope that has the risen Christ as its foundation, and is central to the Christian life. When I think of what lies at the end of a long run, such as water and blissful rest, and how grateful I am for these simple pleasures, I cannot help but rejoice in the hope that St. Paul refers to today. Our catechism makes it clear: “We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.” (989)
GO EVANGELIZE | PRAYER, INVITATION, WITNESS, ACCOMPANIMENT
GO: During a particularly challenging time, I confided in a close friend over the phone. She didn’t just offer to pray for me, she actually prayed with me on that phone call. I don’t recall her exact words, but she called on Jesus to help me trust that God would see me through. So often, it can be hard to find the words to encourage others in their faith. When that happens, why not bring Jesus into the conversation? It may seem awkward at first, but offering to pray with another person in real time can be a powerful witness and encouragement. As Christians, we don’t rely on “hoping” that everything will work out in the end; instead, we know that our hope is in Christ Jesus. As the catechism says: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness.” (1817) It doesn’t get much more direct than that. Reflect on what “hope” looks like for us as Christians. And then tell a friend about it.
DID YOU KNOW? The source of our second reading today, the First Letter from Paul to the Thessalonians, contains the earliest mention within Christian literature of the three theological virtues: “faith, hope and love.” Reread today’s passage, and then read 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8. In prayer, we can ask God to help us grow in all three virtues and show us ways to share them with others.
October 11, 2020
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Phil 4:12-14, 19-20
Mt 22:1-14 OR 22:1-10
GROW: I would guess we’ve all experienced lean times along with better times. Ramen noodles and boxed mac and cheese in college, fine dining with “rich food and choice wines” once we got real jobs, then back to pizza and beer when balancing school tuition, car payments, and kids’ growing feet. Paul has seen it all and much worse; after all, he is writing from a prison cell! Yet, rather than focus on his own troubles, he expresses gratitude for the support of the Philippians and assures them that God will provide. Paul is not writing about food, fine wine, or financial security, but the “glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” No matter our circumstances, we, too, can trust that God will give us what we need.
GO: Imagine Paul, stuck in a prison cell – hungry, thirsty, and probably in pain. And yet he seeks to bolster the Philippian Church, assuring them, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me,” and thanking them: “Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.” What a powerful faith, and a witness to gratitude of God’s gifts – including the gift of people who love us. I’ve been fortunate to have met people who, facing a chronic disease, the loss of a loved one, or physical challenges, still seem to be looking out for everyone else. Nearly to a person, they say they draw on their faith – and I’ve had the rare opportunity to hear their stories as an editor for a Catholic magazine. They inspire me to keep talking to God every day, so when that next challenge comes – and it will – I, too, can turn to my faith for strength. And it doesn’t stop there. By our example, we can accompany those around us as they carry their burdens, assuring them that they don’t face their trials alone.
ACTION: St. Paul says:“I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Keep a gratitude journal and write down the ways God has provided for you. Thank God, and then reach out and thank the people who have supported you when things got tough.