Sunday Gospel Reflection for October 6
The following is an excerpt from Cora Evans’ work, The Refugee from Heaven, selected as a reflection for the Sunday Gospel reading Luke 17:5-10.
Yes, John was a great man to have done all this.
Finished with His eulogy, Jesus turned to other matters. Within the hour He would leave them and travel alone into the depths of the desert there to pray for the conversion of souls for the entire time of their stay. He promised, however, to return the evening of each seventh day to instruct them further on the ideals and the management of their retreat.
“Pray for the gift of faith while I am away,” He begged. “Through faith the armor of humility will come into your lives and its shield of strength will guide you to the higher gifts of wisdom. One of these higher gifts, purity of intention, can be gained in your souls if you will make daily willing sacrifices to please God above all transitory things. As an example, look at the sacrifice and the supernatural intentions John put into the building of this temple. The world would consider his work a useless gesture of love, and certainly a waste of time. But God did not consider it so. God accepts hidden, selfless work – work that appears foolish to the world – as one of the highest forms of prayer and adoration.”
Jesus continued, “Spend the hours of the day as John did. Set aside certain hours for prayer, actual work, and recreation.”
He turned to Simon and said, “From now on you are the acting Retreat Master. Your retreatants will gain great merit for the higher ways of faith by following you in obedience. The first law that leads to personal holiness is built upon the foundation of obedience to a superior. Spiritual character is formed by the willingness of a soul to be tried in the hands of a superior as gold is refined in a furnace.”
Jesus concluded by suggesting that they finish the big, half-completed fireplace, and chisel new benches from stones they could roll down the mountainside.
Then He yielded His place on the platform to Simon, and with some trepidation the big fisherman asked for suggestions from the men and assigned them to duties. He asked several to make the stone benches as Jesus had suggested. Some, he appointed to complete the fireplace. Two others were given a seemingly useless task – that of gathering large dry leaves, stacking and tying them into bundles of a hundred leaves each, as penitential offerings for their sins. These bundles would be burned in the new fireplace in a great celebration at the end of the forty days. To the remaining men were delegated the tasks of fishing, cooking, and the general care of the temple.
Simon next completed the laws of their retreat. The first four hours after sunrise would be spent in prayer and the singing of psalms; the next four hours would be given to God in work and silence; and the following four hours would be taken up by recreation and rest. After the evening meal the rule of silence would be observed, the better for them to learn God's way and life of meditation.