Daily Reflections – 26th Week of Ordinary Time
Monday 28th September
In the first reading today, we begin the story of the Book of Job, teaching us to try and accept all from God’s hand.
Then in the Gospel, Jesus reveals to us, what it means to be great in the eyes of God. It is not the rich and powerful who are the greatest, but actually the one who considers himself the least.
We gather as God’s children and begin by asking for his loving mercy and forgiveness.
The singer-songwriter Paul Simon wrote a song in 1975 called “Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy”. And you might think that it was his life he was thinking of in the title. World-famous and wealthy, what more could he need? Yet he wrote the song in the wake of his divorce and consequent depression. It describes, in his own words, how “most folks’ lives, oh they stumble, Lord, they fall through no fault of their own”.
It could be Job he was writing about. Job, the good man who is blessed by God but who is chosen to test his commitment to God as all his blessings are removed. Through no fault of his own, Job suffers greatly. Today’s first reading tells just the beginning of his many sufferings. The book of Job ends with Job restored to wealth by God, more generously than he had been before. Job travels from the top to the bottom of the social ladder and then back to the top again.
In today’s Gospel Jesus and his followers have a discussion about worth – who is worth the most? Who is the most important among them? It is no less an important question in our Church and our society today. And the · answer is the same. We are all important ; and the ones who do not try to impose their importance on others are the greatest of all. Job was just as important to God in his suffering as in his wealth. And each one of us is important to God, no matter how hard or how easy our lives roll.
Sunday 27th September
We gather on the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to look carefully at our lives. Do what we say and what we do mean the same thing?
We are called to respond to the word of God in our lives and show our faith in word and deed. Indeed, St Paul urges us to get our priorities right and place Jesus at the centre of lives, so we are not pulled away from being faithful to Him.
We hear in today’s Psalm, ‘Remember your mercy Lord.’ So we place ourselves in God’s presence and ask for His loving mercy and forgiveness in our lives.
Who or what has authority in my life? We are all subject to authority in some way and there are all types of authority. But in our personal lives, who or what has authority over my life? If we think carefully about it, fundamentally there are two voices who are wanting our attention – the voice of society and the voice of God in my life.
Which voice do I take more notice of? They are not the same – indeed often one pulls us away from the other – so we cannot follow them both at the same time. We have to decide which voice will I listen to? Which voice will have authority over my life?
We can sometimes hear people complain, and may be at times we have said it, that the church is behind the times, that it is old fashioned, that it is not keeping up with the world. If this is actually true, then let us thank God for it. The church does not get it’s authority from the world, the Church gets it’s authority from Jesus, the Son of God.
It is the Church’s divine mission to proclaim the message of God and transform the world. It is not the job of the Church to fit in with the ways of the world. As Church, as a Diocese, as a parish, as Christians, we are accountable to God, not the world. Yes we have a responsibility for the world, but ultimately, we are only accountable to God. For it is only God who can redeem us, it is only God who can lead us to eternal life. The world has nothing to offer here.
So again, who or what has authority in my life? We cannot follow the will of God and the ways of the world at the same time – they are too different. St Paul makes this very clear when he wrote the immortal line;
‘all beings in the heavens, on the earth and in the underworld
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus.’
Again our loyalty is with Jesus, not the ways of the world. As Christians we have to be brave, we have to be strong, we have to be faithful and live our faith and transform the world – let us not allow the world to transform us and take us away from Jesus.
Pope St John Paul II once wrote a wonderful book called ‘A Sign of Contradiction’, explaining how we as the Church are called to be a sign of contradiction in the world today – again, the ways of the world are often not the ways of God. This may not always make us popular with the world, but it will make us faithful to Jesus. Again, at the end of the day, we are not accountable to the world we are accountable to God. It is our task as Christians to transform the world into the Kingdom of God.
This starts today by placing Jesus at the centre of our lives and living our faith and the values of our faith for the world the see. Let us be brave enough to be that sign of contradiction, but as always, let us do so with the love of Jesus in our hearts.