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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Thursday of the third week of Lent

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.

Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans so that if you have faith in God, God will deliver to us security and wealth. This religious belief flows from Scripture texts such as Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents, and is reinforced by readings like those we have today from the prophet, Jeremiah. Jeremiah, prophesying for God, says, “Walk in all the ways that I command you so that you may prosper” (7:24).

There are many adherents in the United States and around the world of the prosperity gospel. The Catholic Church is not one of them. Catholic theology is more focused on the first part of Jeremiah’s prophecy: achieving perfect conformity to the will of God. The prosperity we seek is a conscience that is clear and a faith that remains unshaken even amidst the uncertainties of life. If God the Father allowed his own Son to be born in poverty, suffer unjust judgment, humiliation, torture, and an agonizing death on the cross, then where does the expectation come from that all our material needs are to be met? After all, shouldn’t we expect to live the life of the earth-bound Jesus, knowing that our lives move to the power of the resurrection only through the crucifixion?

The Bible does not promise an easy life. We know this because every time we come to church, we gather around an altar of sacrifice. That alone tells us that it is not going to be easy to be a follower of Christ. It is going to be difficult to pray. It is going to be challenging to die to ourselves, to pick up the cross and follow where our Master has gone before us.

Fortunately we are not alone. We are standing on the shoulders of some heroic women and men. I’m not just talking about the saints, I’m speaking of your parents and grandparents, our godparents and former teachers and school principals, our former religious sisters, brothers, and priests. We have our faith today because of the witness of many others. There were neighbors who modeled Christian charity and religious-education teachers who gave their time and energy in forming us in our faith. We are standing on their shoulders. At some point we made our own decision to follow Christ, but someone had to show us the way.

We do not follow the way of Jesus for personal reward. It is true, our hope is heaven, but here on earth, we share the cross of our Savior.

Lenten blessings,

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.