In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazaros (Luke 16.19-31), Jesus tells of an opportunity for salvation that goes unnoticed by the rich man. Day after day he stepped out his door passing over his salvation, a humble poor man “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” (Luke 16.21) Day by day the rich man was sealing his fate for an eternity of torment and grief, while the fate of the poor man rested firmly in the bosom of Abraham. Both men died, and both men met their fate.
When we ask for a blessing from God, it is important that we approach Him with humility. It isn’t about what we want, but what God wants, and we need to accept His will with humility.
When things seem to always be against us, we are tempted to think the demons have taken over. But with God’s constant protection, the demons have no power over us. Without our permission, the demons can, and always will, tempt us and torment us, but can never hurt us, because God is always protecting us.
In the Parable of the Sower, we hear of the great opportunity from God that allows us to do the work needed for our heart to the word of God and help it take root in our heart. Whether our hearts are the road, the rocks, the thorns, or the good fertile soil, it will take constant attention and effort for us to keep our hearts rich and fertile for God’s word.
In the Gospel we have a rare opportunity to hear Christ directly explain to us a parable He had offered. In the Parable of the Sower, He explains:
“The seed is the Word of God….”
“The wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts…
“The rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root…”
“Thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life…”
Having recently relocated (almost two years now) to Florida, I have come to a much better understanding of what it means to prepare for a hurricane. Having grown up in northern climates, I was accustomed to blizzard preparations and tornado drills, but never had the “privilege” of preparing for a hurricane. I’m still learning but getting better, especially after figuring out that waiting until the last minute is almost a guarantee that I won’t get everything finished in need to get finished. But today’s blog post isn’t about hurricanes.
It is no secret that many people do not find joy in their Christian journey. Sometimes during struggle we find ourselves wondering if God is even listening. Maybe we even wonder why God is not answering our prayer. Hearing so many miracle stories in the Holy Scriptures, we ask, “Doesn’t God love me enough? Why can’t I have a miracle?” The truth is that miracles are rare and, when God performs them, He is wanting to show His power and grace to those who need a little extra boost in their faith. If we don’t experience miracles, then maybe we don’t need them.
God offers us many challenges in our Christian journey, but among the most difficult challenges, is the challenge to love our enemies and love those who do not love us in return. The only way we can accomplish this challenge is when we are able to look past the sins and struggles of others. Just as God loves us before we love Him, He challenges us to love others before they love us.
Sometimes we feel that we have reached our limit and can go not one step further, but with encouragement and trust, we can realize our full potential. We may think we have reached our plateau, but God knows our potential better than we know it ourselves. If are willing to put our faith in God’s understanding, then we will be able to go out and gather many others who are in need of Good News. We will be able to brothers many others to the Church. The only thing left is our faith to say to God, “Nevertheless, we will go further.” By trusting God we will reach others for His glory.
When we hear in the Gospel, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me,” we must ask ourselves, what is our cross? We may get lazy in a world of comfort, or we may ignore the advice of the Church, or we may just be tempted by evil. Either way, life has its difficulties which we know to be our cross. But the Cross of Christ, is power to defeat our temptations. It is power to strengthen our desire to deny our own logic and agenda for Christ and His Church.