August 7, 2022
by Tom Lenz
Creighton University's Department of Pharmacy Practice
click here for photo and information about the writer

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 117

Wisdom 18:6-9
Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
Heb 11:1-2, 8-19
Matthew 24;42a, 44
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying in Times of Crisis

There is certainly a lot to consider from today’s readings. I like Paul’s message about faith in the second reading and how it ties into the Gospel of Luke. Faith is an obvious theme in so many biblical stories that it might seem to sometimes come across as white noise. At least it does occasionally for me. But, what stuck out for me in Paul’s writing is that he seems to be asking us to compare our occasional lack of faith with that of Abraham’s experience. And, if I stop and think about it for a minute my occasional lack of faith pales in comparison to Abraham’s faith journey. We have the benefit of reading the bible, going to church services, listening to faith speakers, and confiding in spiritual leaders. By comparison, Abraham didn’t have any of those things. Can you imagine being on the very front edge of God’s spoken messaging to the world? For me, this messaging has been part of my entire life from the time I was a young boy growing up in a faith-filled house with wonderful parents who took me to church and enrolled me in catholic schools to today by having the luxury of working at a catholic institution and surrounded by likeminded people. But Abraham did not have those luxuries. He was paving the way without others to lean on – talk about faith! No wonder Paul refers to Abraham and others as “well attested” in their faith.

The transition, then, into Luke’s Gospel seems perfect. Jesus starts by talking with his disciples about “not being afraid any longer.” In other words, have faith in what I am about to tell you.

There was so much that grabbed my attention in the Gospel reading today. But what mostly sticks with me is the notion of having intentionality. Jesus begins the gospel story by telling his disciples that God wants to give them the kingdom – a life better than could possibly be imagined and one that doesn’t ever go away. But, there is a catch. I imagine Jesus saying, “Living fully in the Kingdom of God will require some work on your end. It is here for you right now in this very life you are presently living, but you must make a movement towards it in order to experience it. There must be purposeful intention on your part.”

The language that Luke emphasizes such as preparation, keeping watch, and being a faithful and prudent steward seems to be pointing to a way of life rather than a time bound achievement we are used to in today’s world. It would be impossible to stay awake 24 hours a day, 7 days a week preparing and keeping watch. Rather, modifying the way we live, think, work, relate, and feel in a way that intentionally moves towards God at a fundamental level puts us in a 24/7 position. It seems to me like it’s an intentional movement towards, rather than an achievement focus “I’ve made it” attitude that is necessary to experience the Kingdom of God. This seems apparent when Peter asks Jesus (almost with a certain kind of arrogance) if his parable applies just to them or to everyone. And Jesus’ masterful answer lets the disciples know that this applies to everyone. Almost as if to say, “just because you are in the inner circle, doesn’t mean you are different.” This is intentional work for everyone.

After reading Luke’s Gospel a few times it seems to be telling me that the “Kingdom of God is at hand” right here and now – today! But, in order for me to realize the Kingdom I need to do my part because God is already meeting me here. I just need to have faith that God is not just “out there” but also “in here” and I need to have a 24/7 way of life that makes an intentional movement towards God.

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