On the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about someone driving out evil in his name. He warns about giving scandal, especially to children and calls for a radical avoidance of evil. We are to separate ourselves from it and choose to turn away from sin and its sources as radically as if to cut off our hand or pluck out our eye. It’s about life itself.
The first readings continue with the prophet Zechariah of the period of recovery after the exile. “They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.” The Book of Nehemiah, like Ezra, chronicles this history. The prophet Baruch gives us a prayer of the people in captivity and God’s reply, “Fear not, my children; call out to God!”
We continue reading Luke’s Gospel, as the disciples argue about who is the greatest. Jesus points out a young child and asks them to strive to be the “least” not the greatest. Jesus stops his disciples from preventing people, not of their group, from healing, because they are with Jesus, too. When Nathanael believes because Jesus could say where he had been, Jesus tells him that as a follower, “You will see greater things than this.” People come up, offering to follow Jesus, but have excuses for why they can’t do it now. Jesus calls them to not “look back” once they have said, “yes.” He sends his disciples to other towns: “The harvest is rich but the workers are few.” Jesus tells us to humble ourselves like a defenseless child. He prays, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”
We can be inspired this week by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the beloved Little Flower and her “Little Way” of finding a path to God in the smallest of ways. An extraordinary young woman who lived close to our own times (not many saints have had their photographs taken); she is an example of a humble life of simplicity and humility.
This week we can ask for the desire to become the least, not the greatest, in ways that applies to us. We can ask to experience humility and grace in the real limits we experience in our lives. All of us have some places where we come to know our humanity and are brought to our knees: perhaps we continue to be judgmental of others even after asking for forgiveness ourselves; we keep falling into the same temptations; we present ourselves one way in public, but act a very different way with those closest to us; we never get around to acts of generosity and charity, perhaps even to our parents or with members of our own families.
We can all begin our mornings with our own version of this prayer: “Lord, help me to be more simple, authentic, transparent and trusting today. I don’t want to try to be someone else.” We might ask, “Help me not ‘look back’ today, Lord” or “Lord, I need your help today to be more accepting of others who are different. Help me to see you in those who suffer or struggle in any way.”
For those who have hurt us in some ways, we can do as Thérèse of Lisieux suggests and pray for those people. It is nearly impossible to hold a grudge or hang onto a hurt inflicted by someone when we are praying for that person each day.
This week, we can turn to the Archangels and our own Guardian Angel to support us and help us stay open to listen, courageous in saying yes, and faithful to reforming our desires.
Throughout the day this week, we can take brief moments, in the background of our consciousness, while driving, going to a meeting, shopping, doing laundry, to repeat and deepen these prayers. And, may our God send prophets and angels and his own Son to help us find intimacy with God in the midst of our busy lives. We can beg God to increase our faith and in the simplest ways each day, we can let our tiny seed of faith bloom in extraordinary ways in our lives.
Have a Great Week!