Sunday, October 06, 2013

Go and Do

The LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.  From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD, his God.  Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.  Jonah 2:1-2,11

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.  He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.  Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him.  If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’  Luke 10:33-35

Out of my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me; From the midst of the nether world I cried for help, and you heard my voice.  Jonah 2:3

Why are these two readings – among the most well-known stories in sacred scripture chosen for today, the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary?  Before taking on that question, let’s first consider why we pray the Rosary at all.  Knowing that I cannot answer for you, I boil this down to two reasons. 

First, we pray the rosary so that we can know and reflect upon the touchstones of our faith that make up the 20 mysteries of the four cycles.  If we do not know these joyful, sorrowful, luminous and glorious mysteries, how in the world can we imitate the lives marked in these stories? 

Second, Our Lady has promised to provide grace to those who pray for her to intercede on our behalf.  For the complete list of the promises, see this link:  We cannot obtain these promised gifts if we do not pray the rosary. 

So for me, it boils down to imitating what it contains in order to obtain what it promises.  That is how we end the rosary:  “Let us pray. O GOD, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen."    

We are not being asked to imitate Jonah in flight.  However, we are being asked to imitate Jonah who prayed to the Lord to save him from his distress.  We bargain with the Lord, too.  Want to get that scholarship?  Want to get that promotion?  Want to get that field goal?  We turn to prayer to succeed in daily life as if Jesus favors one student over another, one worker over another, or one football team over another. 

Jesus favors those who imitate Jesus.  The Good Samaritan.  The Reformed Jonah.  The person who prays the rosary with sincerity and with the intention of acting on the prayer. 

Go and do likewise.

Putting yourself into these stories can take many roles.  Imagine for today that you are the innkeeper.  We are asked to spend more than what we have been given.  When we do, the Lord – our Good Samaritan, our Good Shepherd -- will pay us back. 

The stories of sacred scripture are not there for our entertainment.  They are not tonight’s episode of NCIS or Modern Family.  The lessons of sacred scripture are the ultimate in reality entertainment.  We reflect.  We meditate.  We study.  Not as an end in itself but as the basis for action. 

How will you imitate the Good Samaritan or Jonah today after you get up and pray the rosary?  How will you spend more than what you have been given?  

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