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Pay Attention

  • September 24, 2022 (readings)
  • Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
  • Janet McLaughlin
  • Luke 9:43b-45

    While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

    Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, if I slow down and look at your action in the world, I am amazed at all you do. But, Lord, I am so often too busy to see you. As I begin this time of prayer, I ask that you help me open my eyes, mind, and heart to recognize your presence and see your action in my life. I offer my prayer as an act of faith in your presence and guidance, as an act of hope in your provision of all I need to reach eternal life with you and Heaven, and as an act of love for you as the source of true joy. Lord, I ask that you increase my trust in your plan for my life and give me the grace to make my decisions based on that trust.

    Encountering Christ:

    1. They Were All Amazed: This passage begins immediately after Jesus rebuked an unclean spirit, healing a boy and restoring him to his father (Luke 9:42). All those in the crowd “were astounded at the greatness of God” (Luke 9:43). The signs and miracles that Jesus worked were meant to serve this very purpose. St. Paul says God “attests” to Jesus “with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him” (Acts 2:22). In the Catechism, these works, wonders, and signs are said to “manifest that the Kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah. …They invite belief in him” (CCC, 547-548).  God is still at work today, but we have to be willing to acknowledge his work in the world. Do we take time to marvel at his greatness in our life?

    2. Pay Attention: This large crowd was excited at the healing they had witnessed. They were pressing in on Jesus, full of longing for more signs and wonders. How joyful they must have been! At this moment, Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”  Jesus didn’t reassure them with any mention of being glorified or resurrected. He simply told them he would be handed over. In the midst of what must have seemed like a triumph, Jesus was cautioning them not to expect this popularity or seeming success to continue.  It can be easy to find things to point to as signs of God’s presence when things are going well and our prayers are answered, but what about in times of trials and difficulties when we experience the cross? How do we respond to the cross in our life? Do we believe that Jesus is with us? Can we say to the Father as Jesus said, “Not my will but yours be done?” (Luke 22:42).  

    3. They Did Not Understand: Instead of celebrating the successful healing and the crowd’s response, Jesus spoke a hard truth the disciples did not understand. He invited them to open their hearts to the reality that suffering is part of life and that he had come to share in the suffering that faces every human being. Jesus did not come to eliminate suffering; rather, he came to accompany us in our suffering. He also invites us to realize that suffering has meaning, “By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion” (CCC 1505). According to St. Faustina, “If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering... You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone.” 

    Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for making my sufferings meaningful by allowing me to unite them to yours. Help me remember that through them, I can grow in holiness and participate in your ongoing sanctification of others. Lord, give me the courage to embrace the sufferings you allow out of love for you and my neighbor.

    Resolution: Lord, today, by your grace, I will offer up my inconveniences and sufferings for someone who needs my prayers. 

    For Further Reflection: Watch this short video on “offering it up”: Fr. James Brent, O.P., on “Offer It Up.

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