September 28, 2020
by Thomas Quinn
Creighton University's Department of Anatomy and Surgery - Emeritus
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 455

Job 1:6-22
Psalm 17:1BCD, 2-3, 6-7
Luke 9:46-50

Praying Ordinary Time

A Matter of the Heart: Prayer as Relationship

A gathering of angels praising God does not seem to depart from the ordinary design of created beings. The host of angels, in the remarkable reading from the Book of Job that we consider today, contains a guest that we would not expect—the prideful,” fallen angel “, Satan.  He is, in this instance, not only allowed in Heaven, but he has a conversation with God.  God can do anything.  Satan proposed to torment the faithful, righteous, and very successful man, Job.  The Devil maintained that Job would blaspheme to God’s face if the good things in Job’s life were to be taken away.  They are taken, and Job did not falter; his faith was steadfast.  The grace of God is always triumphant. 

The scriptures often address the devil, Satan, the tempter, the evil one. The devil even tempts and taunts Jesus.  Why would we not be subjected to the devil’s attention? The answer is, we certainly are.  Even as a child, I felt the need to be protected from evil. I found security with the saints and angels.  I began each morning with “Angel of God, my guardian dear…”, and ended the day on my then-healthy knees with “holy angel, guard my slumbers through the dangers of this night.”  As I entered my teens, I imagined “intellectual sophistication,” and my probable invulnerability; this error precluded, for a time, belief in the angels and devils.  When I later studied theology in college, St. Thomas and his Summa Theologica became a challenge; he did not ignore the angels or devils.  The saints believed in them; the writers of the scriptures believed; Jesus was taunted and tempted by devils.   When we pray during Mass, we acknowledge the “angels and saints.”   We, like Job, are not alone in our resistance to evil.  The angels are pure spiritual beings.  They are eternally close to God.  They are certainly powerful beings who help and protect us; they carry out God’s will for all His creatures, to bring us to Him for eternity.  We may realize, especially in these troubled times, that we are comparatively weak creatures, but God cares for us, and trusts us to depend on, and use, all facets of our faith.  When we call on the Angels and Saints for help, believe that this is possible.  It is another of God’s great and merciful gifts to His struggling creatures.

The Allleluia response from Mark leads us into the themes of humility and service that are also at the heart of the gospel reading today.  “The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   Jesus was always able to model humility.  Jesus was gentle in his teaching of humility. The apostles, nearly all of whom were, like Jesus, about thirty years old, likely found it difficult to follow a contemporary with a similar background.  They not only accepted him and called him Master, Rabbi, and even The Son of God, but they  chose to be his humble followers. Yet, pride must have smoldered in their young hearts, as it likely does in ours.  They wished to know which of them was the greatest.  Jesus answered by bringing a child next to him, and declaring, “the one who is least among you is the one who is greatest.” The humble one, the servant, is the most like Jesus. He came among us to serve, and to sacrifice himself for us.  His message is always clear; be humble and love one another.       

Thanks be to God.

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