November 8, 2018
by Steve Scholer
Creighton's University Relations
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 488

Philippians 3:3-8a
Psalms 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7 e 14:25-33
Luke 15:1-10

Praying Ordinary Time

The first reading from Paul to the Philippians (written while he was possibly in prison) begins, Brothers and sisters: We are the circumcision, we who worship through the Spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh, although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh, is an echo from Paul’s earlier lament to the Galatians a few weeks ago. Here again Paul is stressing that it is not the faithful observance of customs and traditions of the Church that are going to get one closer to Jesus, but truly living with and in the Spirit. Paul is again stating and trying to impress upon the early followers of Christ that they should realize the key to growing their relationship with Christ is living a life that is directed by the Holy Spirit and not necessarily centered on the law.

One could easily argue that in the early days of the Church Christians may have been more focused on their outward appearance, to show to others they were Christians, instead of being focused on living the life of a Christian.

So, where do we in the 21st Century stack up? Are we all too willing to be satisfied expressing our Christianity by the cross we wear around our neck, the Immaculate Heart Claddagh Ring on our finger, or a rosary in our pocket, to show the world we are Catholics? (Personally, I can check two of those boxes.) Or do we follow the words of Paul and live our lives in the Spirit, focusing on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Today, as we do our daily Examen of Conscience, maybe we should try and focus on two words that are key to the Ignatian practice of discernment: consolation and desolation. Is the Spirit leading us to God, consolation; or, are we moving away from God, desolation?

Pope Francis says we have to leave room for the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. If we are willing to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” we need to become better at listening with our heart to God’s often soft voice calling us to respond to his plans for us, to open our eyes wider to the joy and love that God bestows upon us each and every day, often in the smallest of ways, and we have to open our mouths and say yes to the Holy Spirit who is calling us to a closer and deeper relationship with our God. To live with the Spirit we must follow the Spirit.

We have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians. – St. Ignatius of Antioch “Theophorus”

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