Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (November 5, 2017)

As I read today’s Scriptures, I was very conscious that God’s word was making me feeling a little uncomfortable.

I have often found that a feeling of uncomfortableness with God’s word may indicate that God’s grace is calling me to be more open to growing as a person and as a priest. God’s love for me is inviting me to become more fully the person God has made me to be.

As I read the Gospel, I heard Jesus speak about the Pharisees: “They preach but they do not practice.” I used to hear these words as condemning me. I haven’t always practiced what I was preaching so well. In the last two years, I have experienced in a very personal way that God has always loved me just as I am.

Now I can hear Jesus’ words as encouraging me each day to live more fully what I encourage others to be in my preaching.

I also heard Jesus say: “All their works are performed to be seen.” I know how easy it is for me to use my gifts and talents for my own benefit. Grace is speaking to me, reminding me that whatever talents I have are given by the God who loves me.

I hear St. Paul’s admonition: “What do you have that you did not receive?” When I’m honest with myself before my God, I can only answer: “Nothing.” That realization is my foundation for growing in humility. I want to use my gifts and talents in a way that reflects my thanks to the Giver of all good gifts. Each day I want to follow the advice of St. Francis de Sales: “Be who you are and be that well to give honor to the Creator who made you.”

The Church believes that the Scriptures are God’s living word, speaking to us about our daily living. I have offered some examples of my own trying to listen to God speaking to me. I encourage you to listen carefully for God’s word to you.

Our God loves each of us with an everlasting love and wants to speak to our hearts and encourage us to grow each day. Listen carefully and you will experience the nudge of God’s grace in your life.