Take Five for Faith: September 24-29

Monday, September 24

Invite God to be your friend

It helps to think of the Bible as a “library,” a collection of different kinds of books written at different times by diverse authors for a variety of purposes over thousands of years. Like any library, it is divided into sections, and one of those areas is known as “Wisdom literature,” which deals specifically with wise actions in contrast to foolish ones: the Books of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and the Wisdom of Solomon. One of the messages biblical wisdom offers is the importance of friendship with God, and to be friends with God is reflected in how you are friends with others: not refusing to do good when you have the chance, not creating needless conflict, not being envious. Be this kind of a friend, and God will friend you back.

Today’s readings: Proverbs 3:27-34; Luke 8:16-18 (449)
“To the Lord the perverse one is an abomination, but with the upright is his friendship.”


Tuesday, September 25

Does your faith carry weight?

Imagine the contents of your heart on the scales of heaven right now. Would you be found heavy with cares or light with hope? Are your intentions solid gold or an amalgam of mixed motives? Today the Jewish community observes its holiest feast, Yom Kippur, when the faithful seek atonement for the sake of being close to God. The Catholic Church teaches that “the Jews remain very dear to God . . . since God does not take back the gifts he bestowed or the choices he made,” as the Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate says (no. 4). Lighten your heart from any burden of discrimination.

Today’s readings: Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13; Luke 8:19-21 (450)
“All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves hearts.”


Wednesday, September 26

Doctors without bills
Feast of Cosmas and Damian, martyrs

The churches of Eastern Christianity honor a group of saints known as the “no-money ones”: physicians who took no payment for their services. Now there’s healthcare reform! We don’t know much historically about two of them, the twins Cosmas and Damian, but veneration of them goes back a long time and their popularity crossed over into the West. The legends about them indicate these “no-money” doctors looked to Jesus the divine physician, who healed souls and bodies for free. Why the appeal of two men about whom we have such little information? Maybe because their lives show how people can be instruments of God’s restoring grace, a gift freely dispensed.

Today’s readings: Proverbs 30:5-9; Luke 9:1-6 (451)
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and . . . sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”


Thursday, September 27

Help is at hand
Feast of Vincent de Paul, priest

Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) was a priest who spent his life helping the poor in Paris. Almost 200 years later a young law student by the name of Frédéric Ozanam was inspired to imitate the priest’s service to the homeless and destitute. With a group of friends, he established a lay-led association offering direct, tangible assistance to anyone in need. Today, 352 years after Vincent’s death, the society that bears his name has 700,000 members in 102 countries who offer home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, job training, and food pantries, to name only some of their forms of service. Neither Vincent nor Frédéric set out to establish a worldwide organization; they simply began by helping the person nearest to them. Look around you today; who could use your assistance?

Today’s readings: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Luke 9:7-9 (452)
“One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays.”


Friday, September 28

A saint for a violent season
Feast of Wenceslaus, martyr

We live in violent times, as even a casual scan of headlines or news channels will quickly confirm. Every now and then it’s enough to make you want to lock the doors and pull the covers over your head! But we have to do more than that, and “Good King” Wenceslaus can provide some inspiration. He worked tirelessly for political and social harmony and, although he ended up giving his life for the cause, it is no accident that we remember and honor Wenceslaus 1,000 years later while those who took his life are long forgotten. Trust that the violence in the world cannot overcome the good you do in the cause of peace.

Today’s readings: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Luke 9:18-22 (453)
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly.”


Saturday, September 29

You have friends in high places
Feast of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the archangels, are great examples of how to follow Jesus. Michael, “one who is like God,” is a protector and teaches us how to stay close to the truth and away from sin. Gabriel, “one who is the strength of God,” is the Lord’s messenger and exemplifies our ability to find guidance in God and our calling in life. Finally, Raphael “is the healing power of God” and helps us to heal body, mind, and spirit and find joy in our lives. Pray to these heavenly helpers today!

Today’s readings: Deuteronomy 7:9-10, 13-14 or Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:47-51 (647)
“Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them.”