TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Gospel: Luke 17: 5-10
We can broadly perceive spirituality as being practiced in three ways.
1. The buyer’s spirituality
They approach God as if He is a vendor. They want to buy happiness, good health, peaceful life, a job, good relations, a house, success in life, healing from sicknesses, safe travel, and so on from God. In the hope of getting them, they would offer candles, go for pilgrimages, observe fasting and penance, recite rosaries and other prayers, receive sacraments and attend church, give alms and donations, and live a ‘rather-sin-free-life’. If they don’t get what they are asking, they would either lose hope and get dejected, or, believe that they haven’t traded enough, and would offer more prayers and sacrifices.
Jesus has little appreciation for this kind of spirituality. Prayer is not shopping, and God is not a vendor.
2. The competitor’s spirituality.
Today’s gospel discusses this kind of spirituality. The disciples are concerned with the quantity of their faith. They want to increase it substantially. Jesus was not impressed by their prayer. He did not promise to increase it magically; nor did he give them some tips to increase it quickly. He was happy with faith as small as a mustard seed.
The competitor always tries to excel in everything. He wants to prove to the world, and to himself that he is the best. He has goals to achieve, just to prove to himself that he is at it, no matter what. His own satisfaction is the core of his spirituality.
They would practice rigorous penance, spend long hours in prayers and devotions, and draw happiness from achieving such goals. Many seem to be trapped in this kind of spirituality.
God is not organizing a spiritual Olympics and waiting with medals of different colors. He is looking for something different.
3. The lover’s spirituality.
When one is in true love, the focus is on the loved one. The best example of it is the love a mother has for her child. She doesn’t expect anything in return, except the sweet smiles; she has no goals to achieve, except the happiness and well-being of the child. She doesn’t measure anything. Although rare, this kind of love happens between lovers too. True love is neither a trade nor a competition. It is true love when the loved one is placed above oneself. The happiness and well-being of the other is the ultimate goal of true love. The presence itself is a source of joy. The other is happily authorized to command irrespective of one’s own disposition, as in the case of the servant of the gospel today. Returning from the field after a day’s hard labor, he serves his master and feels it is his duty. The focus of his life is the master.
We are truly spiritual when Jesus is the focus of our life. Staying close to Jesus without any game plan of ours is true spirituality. The servant of today’s gospel has no plan of his own; he is happy being at the service of the master. The mother has no ‘mother goals’ but wants her child happy and well, and she would even trade her life for that.
Don’t worry about how big your faith is. Stay calm, make sure that Jesus is the focus of your life, leave everything else to Him, and execute His wishes like a servant faithful to the core.
You are an amazing person when Jesus is the focus of your life!