Monday, September 3
Humbly accept the call to greatnessFeast of Gregory the Great, pope, doctor of the church
Who wants to be great? The time-tested Christian way is along the path of humility. Before he was known as “Great,” Gregory was born privileged, ascending to the highest public office in Rome. He dumped it all to become a monk, hoping for a life of hiddenness. After the pope forced him from the monastery to serve as papal ambassador, Gregory returned to obscurity. Then after the pope’s death, Gregory was pressed to succeed him. Despite efforts to be un-appointed, he accepted his fate, giving witness to his own teaching: to understand what you hear, you must put it into practice. Becoming “servant to the servants of God,” he achieved real greatness. Bend low, and do great things.
Today’s readings: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Luke 4:16-30 (431)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me.”
Tuesday, September 4
O little town of Capernaum
You’ve probably heard the saying, “All politics is local,” suggesting that people are mostly concerned about the quality of life in their neighborhood or town. The same might be said of religion. Though Christianity now counts well over 2 billion believers worldwide, it all began in Capernaum, a small fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Reportedly the home of the apostles Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the tax collector Matthew, Jesus selected this hamlet as the center of his public ministry after he left the mountainous town of Nazareth. Think of Capernaum as the mustard seed from which a great world religion sprung forth. And never underestimate the power of your own “small” life to bear great fruit as well.
Today’s readings: 1 Corinthians 2:10b-16; Luke 4:31-37 (432)
“Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.”
Wednesday, September 5
Stay just a little bit longer
“Don’t go!” kids lament when a favorite visiting friend or relative gets ready to leave. It was just as true for the crowds who often begged Jesus to stay with them. Of course Jesus had to move on: “To other towns also I must proclaim the Kingdom of God, for this purpose I have been sent.” While Jesus’ contemporaries eventually had to say good-bye to Jesus, we do not. We have his healing and Real Presence always with us in the Eucharist; in the proclaimed word of God; in the assembly of the faithful. Today you do not need to beg Jesus to stay. He’s not going anywhere.
Today’s readings: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Luke 4:38-44 (433)
“The crowds went looking for him, and . . . tried to prevent him from leaving them.”
Thursday, September 6
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” These words spoken by Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird inspire reflection on our relationship with others and also can give us a glimpse into our relationship with Jesus. Throughout his life Jesus shows again and again that he is truly with us, that he knows us, and that he sees and loves us for who we are. If that means attending a wedding with us, he does. If it means heading out on a boat, he’s there. If it means grieving the death of a loved one, he’s beside us. How does Jesus “climb into” your life and “walk around”?
Today’s readings: 1 Corinthians 3:18-23; Luke 5:1-11 (434)
“Getting into one of the boats . . . he asked . . . to [be] put out a short distance from the shore.”
Friday, September 7
Is your judgment really better?
Two very old titles for Jesus are King and Judge. His kingship over the universe is one of the “offices” or aspects of his divinity in which believers share, the other two being the priestly and prophetic. Jesus is also the ultimate judge of the world—only God can judge, and Christ is God revealed. Hand-in-hand with Jesus being the Judge is that the rest of us are not. The biblical message is clear: Judging others calls down God’s judgment on yourself. Another downside to judging is that it sets people over one another—“I’m better than you and so I can judge you”—when in fact all are equally subject to God. Leave the ruling and judging to God and get to work loving your neighbor.
Today’s readings: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Luke 5:33-39 (435)
“Do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes.”
Saturday, September 8
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Talk of “God’s plan” can make it sound as if free will is merely a joke. If God has a plan, then is human history just a stage on which the divine will is acted out? God does have a plan, stated as early as the biblical Creation story: to declare all things good and to bring forth all good things. But we humans, exercising free will, can choose to deflect or obstruct the goodness God delights in producing. Or we can choose as Mary did to become the channel of goodness by participating in God’s love. Practice choosing daily in the spirit of love.
Today’s readings: Micah 5:1-4a or Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23 or 1:18-23 (636)
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.”