From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

June 26 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

St. Paul tells us in the second reading that we are called to freedom, but it is not freedom to do as we wish.  It is a freedom from the slavery of sin – a freedom that can easily be lost if we do not answer the call of discipleship and live by the Spirit, accepting all that Christ gives us. The heart and foundation of this freedom is formed in our worship, praise and prayer – the sacred liturgy.  It is here that we receive the words to live by and the food which sustains us for the journey – the Eucharist – Christ himself. It is a freedom that is born out of – and comes with genuine love.  Love poured into us through the Word and through the Eucharist.  Love which must not be contained, but must be reflected out through our discipleship – through our very being.

Pope Benedict said it well – “freedom is not only a gift, but a summons to personal responsibility as well.”  In the fight for religious liberty it has been pointed out that we do not have two wings to the house – a faith and worship division on the one hand, and a service division on the other.  We cannot claim to love God without loving our neighbor.  What we believe and how we worship gives rise to a life of service and sacrifice.  We must be ready to take on both – for one cannot live without the other.  Our discipleship to Christ calls us even beyond just service.  It calls us to a life lived day in and day out by the teachings of Christ.  It calls us not only to accountability for the decisions we make in our personal lives, but it calls us to be defenders of justice and advocates for truth and morality.  We must work to correct systems and injustices which prey upon the vulnerable and keep them in poverty.  We must stand up to the evils in society which undermine the truth and speak out against them.

St. Paul reminds us that our ‘freedom’ in Christ also calls us to be focused in our behaviors.  We must be mindful of the challenges that are to come, staying true to our faith and Christ’s call to us. It is through our actions that we make discipleship come to life.  Jesus calls us to love one another.  It is the essence of what he teaches us – but it is a hard love.  It is a love that calls us to make sacrifices for the good of others.  It is a love that often times puts us at odds with our societal norms.  It is a love that calls for us to stand up when others sit on the sidelines.

In our gospel this week, we find Jesus beginning his final journey to Jerusalem and to his final destiny here on earth. There is a new found sense of urgency.  He invites us to join in that journey – a journey of discipleship and Christian action.  Jesus calls us to follow him but he makes clear the conditions of following him.  Leave the past behind – change your life and commit to God.  To be a follower of Jesus, the priority is always the kingdom of God.  It is the center of all that we are and all that we do.  We must make sacrifices.  We will be at odds with society.  The journey will be rigorous.  But the journey has a meaning.  We travel to a place where our lives have meaning as we proclaim “you are my inheritance, O Lord!”

As Vincentians, we are guided by the Spirit as we form our lives particularly in relationship with Jesus and the vulnerable.  We strive to keep the focus St. Paul calls Christ.  We must never lose sight of Jesus as the source of all goodness.  We can never forget the importance of seeking His will through our prayer for both ourselves and our neighbors.  We must be guided by the Spirit in all that we do.  Do I stay faithful to God’s will in all situations, even when challenges occur?  Are prayer, humility and truth the cornerstones of my ministry each and every day?  Do I help to illuminate God’s presence to my neighbors in need even when it is difficult to see?

Lord Jesus, you are my inheritance.  Help me always to listen for your will, following where you may lead me.  Grant that I may never waiver in my desire for prayer – constant communication – with you.   Allow me to be a true messenger of your love through both my words and deeds.  Lift me up when challenges come that I may always focus my gaze only on you.   I pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike