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Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Our lesson from the Gospel of Luke today is sometimes referred to as “The Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6:17-7:1). It parallels Matthew’s account from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3-12). Luke offers a more condensed, concise version of Jesus’ teaching while communicating the same essence. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to “seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). The way we do that is to follow hard after the footsteps of Christ, asking the Holy Spirit to help us become more and more Christ-like day-by-day, with a righteousness born of love, not of law.

At Immaculate Conception parish, we are beginning a new church year with the theme, “Radical Love; Radical Discipleship.” On Saturday of this past weekend, Fr. Satish, the parish staff, and the Ite Missa Est leaders offered an incredible retreat in which participants received the vision for the year and were inspired and motivated to live lives of radical love. Fr. Satish continually reminds us that the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. Chs 5-7) offers us very concretely what this way of life, this way of radical love looks like. At the retreat, he challenged us to set aside whatever books we are reading at the moment and to take up the Gospels. While other commentators, theologians, and spiritual thinkers can offer helpful perspective and inspiration on the bible, it is only in the Gospels that we encounter Jesus’ teaching and his modeling of what a life inspired by radical love looks like. The Gospels are a guidebook for us as we seek to grow in holiness and to embody a life in Christ.

Following Fr. Satish’s leadership, I encourage you to choose one of the Gospels and read it in its entirety – in one sitting if you’re able, or at least over the course of one day. Do the same with the other three Gospels as you can. I believe that would be a great spiritual discipline for this year of “radical love; radical discipleship.” As you read, note aspects of Jesus’ teaching that challenge you. Make those themes part of your daily prayer, asking God to help you grow to be able to more closely embody those virtues, attitudes, or behaviors. When you encounter promises that feel like they’re true for others but not for you, pray into those areas, as well, asking Jesus to assure you that all of his promises are true for you and truth within you. That’s an approach to prayer that I’ve followed over the years and it has helped me so much to not only believe God’s word intellectually but to know that I know it within my inmost being and to claim all of God’s word as true for me.

As you pray Luke’s Gospel today, I invite you to ask the Holy Spirit to help you as you seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness. Let’s pray our parish prayer together as we join our hearts and minds, souls and spirits in desiring to be channels of God’s radical love.

Loving God,
in your saving love
you sent your Son Jesus into the world.
You proved your love for us
“in that while we were still sinners
Christ died for us.”
Jesus gave us a new commandment:
“As I have loved you,
you also should love one another.”

 Today, we come to you
as a community of disciples,
and pray that you
set our hearts on fire with your love.
May we love you with all our heart,
all our soul, and all our mind.
And may we love one another,
As Jesus loved us.

 May your love transform us
as we strive to
Think like Jesus,
Talk like Jesus,
and Act like Jesus.

In this way, make us
Radical Disciples of Radical Love.
We pray this through Christ, our Love.

- Elizabeth Wourms