Job 9: 1-12, 14-16; “…God is wise in heart and mighty in strength; who has withstood him and remained unscathed?...”
Psalm 88: 10bc-11, 12-13, 14-15 “…But I, O LORD, cry out to you; with my morning prayer I wait upon you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me; why hide from me your face?”
Luke 9: 57-62 “…No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) is the man, who as a young person heard his call from the Lord while at prayer in front of a crucifix in the crumbling San Damiano Church. The Lord asked him to rebuild His Church, and Francis began by fixing the physical damage to the building. But he soon understood this request to mean, fix a Church who had been straying from the Gospel message. Young Francis walked away from all his comforts including his Father’s business. His family had some money; he had been popular and lived a life described very much of this world. But, the LORD had a better offer for Francis, and his commitment to extreme poverty for the love of the poor is now how the world knows him. Francis is that example for us of which Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel from Luke.
Today’s first reading from the Book of Job is surely tough. Most of us can only imagine Job’s life predicament, but for sure would not want to live it. Job is the man who is known to us as God’s faithful servant. He is good to others, and is blessed with much; he has family, good health, and over time, much wealth. He had the dream life. But all of that changes, and Job looses everything. Today’s reading looks in on Job after he has suffered that loss, and initially Job’s disposition about God has changed as well. There are some similarities in the story between Job and St. Francis, both became poor and of ill health. They both gave up family. But there is a big difference as well. Francis was asked to follow the Lord and was given a choice. Job had every thing taken away, was not asked and probably did not anticipate his current disasterous state. This is the lesson laid out for us today. Job’s lot in life changes and at first he becomes bitter; Francis chooses poverty over earthly riches and he becomes someone through which the Lord can work to renew his Church and continue to spread the Kingdom of God.
Choosing poverty and learning to live with it, are very different indeed. But, both men end up choosing to rely on the Lord, they see beyond the pleasures of this world and choose to be Christ’s hands and feet here on earth. Looking at this example makes it easier to see why we are told to get out of the way, so that the Lord can do his work. Being totally selfless, requires a total reliance on God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is passing through and to several he meets on the way, he tells them to leave all they have behind. I wonder what is the difference between these people and St. Francis? In both we know they have encountered the Lord asking them the question. Why did St. Francis say yes? This is the question being put to us today in reading the WORD of God. In our readings what is God asking of us today? How much of our dependence on our material wealth are we willing to give up, to be able to serve in His Kingdom? Are we to share more of our allotment with others? Surely the world cries out for this need. Job shows us how hard it is to give up the blessings bestowed on us. But, to be “with” Christ is to be ready to move out of our comfort zones at any moment.
We have the Lord asking us to follow Him, and we have both good St. Francis and Job showing us how that request might look to us. Maybe God isn’t asking you to give up everything today. Maybe he is just asking you to help one of His for whom you have been given a gift to share. A loved one in need, a parent who’s grip on life is slipping. Wherever you are called this day, will you be able to say yes, my self-generated list of things to do is not as important. I can set it aside for now. Let us ask the LORD for the grace to say yes to His call. As Job points out, He is the only way.
The Responsorial Psalm, “Let my prayer come before you, Lord.”
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