November 14, 2023
by Edward Morse
Creighton University's School of Law
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 492

Wisdom 2:23–3:9
Psalms 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
Luke 17:7-10

Praying Ordinary Time

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Today’s readings give us insight into gratitude and servanthood – dispositions that present struggles for many of us.

The first reading is often used on other occasions, including the recent remembrance of All Souls Day.  Wisdom references the “envy of the Devil”, that primordial fault that caused a rift in Heaven. Satan could not tolerate a condition in which humanity would receive divine favor exceeding his own.  His clamoring for dominance and authority created an adversarial state that continues to sow seeds of discord among us.  

Wisdom reminds us that God is not defeated by this adversary.  He remains Lord and King and His plan of salvation will succeed, despite our struggles that sometimes apparently include defeat and loss.  We are nevertheless reassured of His triumph, along with His continuing love and care:

Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

God’s grace and mercy are deep and rich.  The Devil, who knew God’s grace and mercy so well, chose to despise it, finding humans unworthy recipients.  He apparently thought God was wasting His gifts on us!  (God, aren’t you forgetting it is all about me!?!)  Sometimes we also face this temptation.  When others receive grace and mercy, we must be watchful over envy and seek out a place of gratitude, trusting that God’s abiding love will also care for us.     

Today’s gospel passage is found only in Luke.  Immediately prior to this reading, the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith.  Jesus responded by teaching them to consider themselves as servants, whose role entails duties rather that rights and prerogatives.  This is another rebuke to the Devil’s envy referenced in the Wisdom reading.  Jesus taught the apostles to eschew this kind of clamoring for position and recognition.  Further, do not take the grace and mercy of God toward you for granted, as though your position is somehow elevated above others.  Put our Lord’s interests first, trusting that our own needs will also be met in due time.  (And those needs are real.  We experience hunger, thirst, and fatigue from our work in this world, but these are signs we are doing things right.) 

This disposition is not easy.  We like to be served more than to serve.  We like to be honored more than to honor.  We like to receive gratitude more than to be grateful.  The contrary disposition that Jesus is teaching us to follow can also be costly in a world where others find it foolish and easy to exploit.  Can we trust God to follow him in those times?

Lord, like the apostles, we cry out to you, “please increase our faith.”  We are prone to forget and to lose hope, particularly in the midst of tough times and struggles.  Save us from envy.  And help us to encourage one another, remembering that Grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.”  Thanks be to God.

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