When we receive an invitation to a banquet, the first thing most of us do is to quickly look at who sent the invitation. We do this before we even look to see if we are available at the time for the banquet. We do this because, if we consider the person who has invited us to be important enough, even if we are busy that night, we will likely find a way to attend the banquet. If we don’t like the person, or don’t even know if we know the person, even if we are available, chances are we won’t attend the banquet.
Once on a Sabbath Day, Christ reached out and healed a woman from eighteen years of suffering as He said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” (Luke 13.12) The Jewish leaders were furious that Christ would dare “work” on the Sabbath, a day while work was not allowed by God. As we continue preparing ourselves to receive Christ for Christmas, it is time for us to have compassion and mercy for others as more important than following the exact rules of the Church.
Faith is a free gift from God that we must choose to accept. From the moment we awake until the moment we go to bed, we are faced with constant opportunities to choose faith and live with Christ. Do we choose to pray and give thanks to God for a new day the moment we awake, or do we rush to be ready for work? Do we choose to thank God for our food and pray? Do we choose to prepare to be in Church on Sunday morning, or do we wait to see if we will wake up on time? The crowd of temptations are constantly trying to hush our soul as it cries out for Christ.
You are sitting by the side of the road selling fresh-caught shrimp when suddenly Jesus Christ comes walking by, surrounded by a crowd of followers. Do you…
- Keep selling your shrimp as if nothing special is happening?
- Stop selling your shrimp and sit perfectly still so you don’t disturb Him?
- Try to sell shrimp to the crowd?
- Drop your shrimp, cry out “Lord, Have mercy?” and then follow Him wherever He goes?
Sometimes life is just a simple multiple choice question.
In the Gospel of Luke 18.18-27, we hear the popular reminder about wealth and heaven. “How hard is it for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18.24-25) If we are waiting to see a camel get through the needle, we are missing the point of the lesson. We are the camel, and until we are willing to leave the burden of wealth and prestige behind, we will never follow Christ into heaven. Sound impossible? Don’t worry.
When it comes to preparing to celebrate Christmas, it can be a daunting task. Weeks of Christmas parties and shopping days can lead to serious anxiety, and for what? What happens if tonight our soul is required of us? Those things which we have been preparing, whose will they be? The story of the rich man who tore down his barns to building larger ones, can teach us a lesson. The gifts, resources, talents, and blessings that God has given to us, are not for us to focus on ourselves. They are given to us to serve others.
Many times when we hear the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16.19-31, we get confused about the great chasm between heaven and hell. Most think this is a physical separation, but the Fathers teach us that the chasm is the time of our death. We have until NOW, before we die, to prepare our heart to experience heaven as joy. If we live our life like the rich man, totally self-absorbed and ignoring the needs of others, we will experience heaven as torment and fire.
When it comes to living a New Life In Christ, it requires more than just asking God for blessings. When Jairus asked Christ to heal his daughter, he had to show obedience and patience, even knowing his daughter died, before he experienced God’s blessings.
Sometimes we hear the Gospel and think of “just another story from another time in history.” In truth every story in the Scripture is for out benefit today. When we hear the story of the Gadarene Demoniac, although we may not be demon possessed, there are many demons that can cripple us and leave us alone in the wilderness. The joy we can have through hearing this Gospel lesson is that God is always protecting us, and He has the power to free us from the demons that control us.