Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.”
For years I’ve wanted to send out a weekly reflection regarding our upcoming Sunday readings to those in the music ministry, but wasn’t willing to have it ‘inconvenience’ my life by adding yet another item to my ‘to do’ list. This week’s second reading left me no space to make excuses. Paul was a prisoner in a Roman dungeon as he wrote our second reading for this coming Sunday to Timothy, his friend and disciple. He knew he only had a short time to live and this was his last will, his dying wish, his “final charge”:
Proclaim the word. Be persistent. Correct, rebuke, encourage with great patience and careful instruction.
I may not be able to follow through weekly with this “final charge” but I am sure going to try!
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
I grew up in Tennessee and Arkansas, known to many as “The Bible Belt”. My family and I learned quickly that we would never make it in our tiny town unless we became involved in our local Southern Baptist church. Each Sunday we would attend 8am Mass and then head over to the Southern Baptist church to join their small groups that studied the Bible. It didn’t take much time to learn that as Catholics, most of us are not reading the Scriptures enough. We’re not spending enough time DAILY in prayer and reflection.
It was just a few short months into our Bible study small groups and suddenly the Bible verses I had memorized were popping up in my day-to-day life. As my patience was running thin and I could feel my anger growing, suddenly James 1:19 pops up: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Take the deep breath. Slow down. When I begin to worry, I can hear Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?... Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4: 8
It’s time we fill our minds with the purity and beauty of God’s word. But how do we do that unless we’re in it each day?
How much time do we really spend reading the Scriptures each week? Are we willing to be inconvenienced to grow closer to God? For some, we don’t even know where to begin.
My challenge this week is to spend a few extra minutes each day reading the Word of God (my personal challenge is to START my day in Scripture – offering up the entire day to God).
You could start with the daily readings or this Sunday’s readings and keep moving forward.
Here’s a link to our daily readings: http://usccb.org/bible/index.cfm
Or maybe you just want to start with the book of Matthew, the beginning of the New Testament.
For some it will be easier if you could read it from your phone as you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment or out on a walk. I downloaded the free Bible app Youversion and love reading it on a break during my run.
Or maybe you commute to work and could download or buy the audio Bible. Spice it up and get a reader with a fun accent!
There’s nothing to lose here. As our Gospel for this Sunday says,
“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”