The Gospel according to Luke (11:1-12)
The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
Opening Prayer: Dear Prince of Peace, you came to show us a new way, a different path from one that led to our own destruction. Help us today, with this reading to be mindful of the evil that leads us to sin against you and each other.
Encountering Christ: How fast can you go from 0 to 60? I don’t mean in your car but emotionally, especially with regard to anger. On any given day I can be driving, and someone will cut me off or force their way in front of me and I can get to 60 in an instant. You want to see that needle jump to 60 plus in a group, bring up any current, hot button issue like vaccines, abortion, or the most recent recall campaign. We seem to be more and more easily agitated by issues and events in our corner of the world and unfortunately, our human story has been prone to violence with instant justifications and rationalizations that absolve us of any guilt.
This is not they world God intended for us to live in, wouldn’t you agree? Yet here we are more than two thousand years after Jesus walked and talked among us to show us a better way. Did the Beetles get it right when they sang, “All we need is love”? This is what made Jesus so radical. He did not come to overcome injustice and violence with an iron fist. He came to serve and to deliver himself over to the powerful of this world so He could conquer our worst enemy, death, with love.
This reminds me of the apostles James and John who in a moment of frustration and anger asked Jesus if they could call down fire from heaven to consume those who had rejected them. It doesn’t take much in a moment of indignation to reach for the biggest hammer so we could obliterate those who we perceive as a threat.
So, how can we control or at least slow down this incredibly fast reaction that takes us to the edge of our right mind. Can’t we simply make a choice at that moment not to react and hold back the force that takes us there. Easier said than done. How about prayer? Why not pray for the grace we need to whittle away at the tendency to lose control. Then there are the Sacraments that avail us of the graces of God, the source of all that is good. Yes, I have, you have done all of these and still we struggle with this slide backward to the darkness of our choices.
So, are we doomed? Of course not! Jesus came to save us from all of this and more, much more.
As I said earlier, He came to save us from death. Not physical but spiritual. Our God is so merciful, loving, and kind that even though His efforts throughout the history of mankind, with his chosen were met with rejection He still came. He came so we could have life and have it more abundantly.
If we participate in all the ways we encounter God and His graces whether it be self-control, prayer, the Sacraments, and much more we can and do make progress. Each step we take here leads us one step closer to heaven where we will no longer struggle with sin. Jesus is the Good Shepard. He came to lay down his life for you, me, for everyone.
Closing Prayer: Jesus, you knew that your message of love and forgiveness would fall on rocky soil and hardened hearts. But you would not let that stop you from your mission of mercy. May we follow your example and never give up sowing the seeds of love.
Action for the Day: At some point in your day, maybe at night, look back at the moments you either lost control or got close. Examine what triggered that reaction and ask God for forgiveness. Make this a focal point of your prayer and see this as a step closer to heaven. And say, Thank you Jesus!