Lord, I am unworthy servant

Luke 17:7-10
 
Who is greater: the one who sits at the table or the one who serves?  Jesus turned the idea of greatness on its head, linking true greatness with true service.
 
The prayer of tye true servant is the prayer of the unworthy servant, “Lord, I am an unworthy servant.  I have only done my duty."
 
How many strive for this level of total commitment and dedication?
 
The point, though, is that this kind of service is rooted in love.  When we consider the ternder mercy of God towards us we can glimpse the truth that we are unworthy servants – we all compete not for the highest place but for the lowest.
 
This is what makes the Christian faith so attractive and compelling: those who embrace a life of such loving service are truly signs of contradiction in a selfish and often hedonistic world.
 
Lord, I am an unworthy servant and when I serve my brothers and sisters I only do my duty. 
 
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The Invitation to God's Banquet

Luke 14:15-24
 
God invites not only a privileged few or those whom the world considers important, but everyone.  We should not take this invitation for granted but try to understand what a wonderful call it is.
 
The imagery of a banquet shows how God wants to lavish good things on us.  As we come to see this, we can see how foolish it is for us to be immersed in other things and telling ourselves that we do not have time for God.
 
If we were invited to a party we would be very quick to accept, yet we are often unenthusiastic about the heavenly banquet that God is offering us.
 
Lord, we ask your forgiveness for the we that we make excuses for not giving you time and for putting other things first.  Help us to understand the urgency of your call and the greatness of the banquet that you long to give us.  Grant us the grace to respond to you and to love you, so that we may one day enter your heavenly kingdom.
 
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Forgiveness, the Scandal of Mercy

Luke 19:1-10
 
This encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus the tax collector illustrates perfectly the ‘scandal of grace’.  It brings to the fore this very important biblical teaching that where sin abounds, grace super-abounds.
 
God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.
 
Through his encounter with Jesus Zacchaeus had an experience of God’s mercy and compassion which touched him and led him to repentance and conversion.  No one is beyond God’s grace and mercy.
 
We are to be a living expression, a sign, a sacrament of this same mercy, kindness and forgiveness.  Learning to forgive others, to hold out the hand of friendship and brotherhood/sisterhood to those we find difficult is not easy.
 
In fact, without God’s grace it’s impossible, but with God’s grace all things are possible.
 
Lord, you treated everyone you met with great dignity and compassion; as persons created in your image and likeness.  May I now go and do likewise.
 
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The Beatitudes

Matthew 5: 1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill.  There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. 

Then he began to speak.  This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

'Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. 

'Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. 

'Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied. 

'Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. 

'Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God. 

'Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. 

'Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

'Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

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The Narrow Door

Luke 13:22-30
 
The gate or door to salvation is Jesus himself (John 10:9).  He knocks on the door of our souls (Rev 3:20) and invites us to acknowledge that he is Lord.  God created us without us, but he does not save us without us.
 
How can we then be saved?  By turning to Jesus every day, acknowledging our need of him and asking for the grace to live out our vocation.
 
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Way of Salvation, the Truth of Salvation and the Life of Salvation.  In following you we find the key to life, and we are guided and led by the Light of Life.
 
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Signs of the Times

Luke 12:54-59
 
What are the signs of the times today?  How do we know that God is living and active among us?  
 
The election of Pope Francis is a sign of the times, certainly: his love for the poor, his refusal to accept or mbrance many of the élitist trappings of his office; his passion for the simple Gospel message; and his love for God and for Jesus.
 
Another sign of the times is the rise of new spiritual movements.  The Holy Spirit is at work in our midst.  The signs of the world are ever apparent and we do well to note them also: the rise of militant atheism, materialism, fascism and moral relativism.
 
One of the great prophets of the modern world was St Pope Paul VI.  He wrote, “The split between the Gospel and the culture is without doubt the drama of our time, just as it was of other times.  Therefore every effort must be made to ensure a full evangelisation of culture, or more correctly of cultures.  The have to be regenerated by an encounter with the Gospel.  But this encounter will not take place if the Gospel is not proclaimed.”  (Evanglii nuntiandi 20).
 
Lord God, you gave courage to the Holy Martyrs.  Grant us the grace to seek to understand the signs of our times and always to be prepared to share with others the reason for our hope in Christ.
 
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Come, Lord Jesus

Luke 12:35-38

“Be patient waiting for Jesus’ return.  The tension between now and the final event of Jesus coming again must be lived in serene hope, committed to the present moment – we are pilgrims in search for a lasting home; we hope, as our forefathers in faith did, for a better homeland, in other words for heaven.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.” 

Pope St John Paul II

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"Whoever acknowledges me before men . . ."

Luke 12:8-12
 
Today, in the here and now, it takes a certain courage to stand up for our faith.  It is easier on one level to stand up for Christian values and ethics.  People often talk about the Catholic or the Christian ethos as if simply speaking in these broad terms says as much as is needed about who we are as believers.  But what if someone asked, “What part does Jesus play in that ethos?”  Would that question be met with embarrassed silence?
 
St Ignatius of Antioch said, “Don’t just be known for being a Christian, but for living as one.”  Pope Paul VI put it like this, “For witness, no matter how excellent, will ultimately prove ineffective unless its meaning is clarified and corroborated.” – what Peter described as accounting for the ‘hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).  
 
Pope Paul VI went on to say, “The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life.  There is no true evangelisation if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed.” (Evangelii nuntiandi 22)
 
 
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The importance of listening – Martha or Mary?

Luke 10:38-42
 
Mary did what Martha didn’t — she made time.
 
We know in our own hearts that the decision to find time to pray is often harder than the decision to attend to work, write another email, make a telephone call etc . . .
 
Today we put out into the deep in expectation of encountering the Lord in a new way in prayer.  Today we rejoice in the pearl of great price, the ‘one thing’ that is needed, which is to be still and know that God is God.
 
“Prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting ones’s eyes, quite simply to heaven, a cry of grateful love from the crest of joy or the trough of despair; it is a vast, supernatural force that opens out my heart and binds me close to Jesus.” Ste Thérèse of Lisieux.
 
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Who is my neighbour?

Luke 10:25-37
 
Who is your neighbour?  Our faith invites us to go beyond our immediate circle and to reach out to people who fall outside our neat categories and boxes.  We are called to love and to care for people who might be unlovable by the standards of the world: criminals, drug addicts, drug dealers etc . . .
 
Despite the social action element of the parable many Church fathers saw that Jesus was in fact the Good Samaritan and we the wounded, bruised body on the roadside.
 
There is a profound depth to this parable whch the Holy Spirit can open up to us.  We are called to be merciful, but mercy is about understanding our need for redemption and salvation.  
 
This is the greatest human need: to know God’s forgiveness, mercy and healing.
 
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