Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Today's readings

Listen to the voices of hope in today's Liturgy:

"But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays."

"For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

"Blessed are they who hope in the Lord."

"Give us this day our daily bread."

The Divine Liturgist today is inviting us to find our hope in God, and inviting us to turn over our lives to God in hopeful anticipation that God will answer our needs. Sometimes I wonder how willing I am to actually do that. It's almost like I want to pray to God just in case I can't fix things on my own or work out my needs by myself. Kind of like a divine insurance policy. Maybe your prayer is like that too.

But that can't be the way that the Christian disciple prays. We have to trust that God will give us what we really need. He certainly won't be giving us everything we really want . And he probably won't be answering our prayers in exactly the way we'd like him to. And we will certainly find out that he will answer the prayers of our heart in his own time. But he will answer. He will give to the one who asks. He will be present to the one who seeks. And he will open the door to the one who knocks.

The Christian disciple must be willing to accept God's answer in God's time on God's terms. When we do that we might even find that when God gives us what we really need, instead of what we really want, our lives are so much more blessed than we could ever have imagined. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

This homily is for those of us who sometimes have trouble on our spiritual journeys. All those who have achieved perfection and glory are excused. … It’s interesting that none of us left, isn’t it? If you’ve been attending our Amazing Gifts program here on the weekends, you heard this week that the spiritual life is a process and sometimes we fall, and sometimes we fly. Today’s Liturgy of the Word gives us the stories of some great saints who have those same trials.

The story of Jonah that began yesterday and will continue for a few days is not at all about the great things Jonah did. It is more about the journey of discipleship that was Jonah’s life, and about the wonderful things that God did in and through the very unwilling disciple who was Jonah. Today’s reading has Jonah finally doing what God asked him to do yesterday. Fresh out of the belly of that big fish, Jonah finally realizes that God’s call in his life is not optional. So he does what he is told to do, and affects the conversion of the evil city Nineveh. But Jonah’s story is not done yet, and we’ll see this week the ups and downs he still has to endure.

And then we have the story of poor Martha in today’s Gospel. I often think that Martha, as Luanne Roth said at last week’s Amazing Gifts, gets a raw deal in this story. Someone had to make the food! But I think the real message of this Gospel story is that neither Martha nor Mary had it all wrapped up. Because there are times when we definitely have to be Mary, sitting at the Lord’s feet in adoration, prayer and praise. But if we are never Martha, our faith is useless, as St. James says in his letter. There has to be a balance between our spiritual life and our service, or, in the words of St. Benedict, between our prayer and our work.

So for those of us who haven’t yet achieved spiritual perfection, the message is that we have lots of saints in Scripture who are on the journey with us. The point is to keep moving on the journey, so that we will one day reach perfection in that kingdom that knows no end. And may God be glorified in the belly of the big fish or in Nineveh; in our Martha days and our Mary days, in our prayer and our work.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor

Today’s readings: Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalm 131; Matthew 18:1-4
Today’s saint

thereseliseuxSt. Thérèse knew well the instruction of today’s Gospel reading: “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest of the kingdom of heaven.” St. Thérèse had a child-like faith, child-like, that is, in her trusting obedience to God’s will, even in the smallest of matters. She truly believed that small acts of faith and love would work wondrous miracles for the Kingdom of God.

Thérèse was a very sickly young lady. A childhood illness left her weak for the rest of her life, and her last year had her dying of tuberculosis. She entered the convent at the age of fifteen, and when she died she was just twenty-four years old. Yet in that short span of time she wrote much about her faith and encouraged others to embrace a simplicity of life and a dedicated obedience to God’s will. In 1997, Pope John Paul II named her a Doctor of the Church, one of just three women to have that special title.

Thérèse was not one who sought the limelight. She did not seek to make a name for herself or become anything other than what God wanted her to be. In Thérèse’s view, even the most menial tasks in the convent could be transformed into great acts of love. And her preference for hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Few saints of God are more popular than this young nun. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, is read and loved throughout the world.

Today’s entrance antiphon says “The Lord alone was her leader.” The Psalmist reflects Thérèse’s rule of life by singing, “In you, Lord, I have found my peace.” Perhaps today we too can find the peace of God in doing small acts of love for the great glory of the Kingdom of God.