Contents: Volume 2 - Twenty Fourth Sunday of Ordered Time
Year B September 19th, 2021
1. -- Lanie
Carol & Dennis Keller
Brian Gleeson CP
Paul O'Reilly SJ
reflection can be here!)
Sun 24B 2021
Even after all these 25 + years of writing these
reflections each week, I still do not anticipate the
sequence of the readings, especially the Gospel stories very
well. I always am surprised when one of the readings catches
and pauses my thought process a little longer than usual.
Jesus's question in the Gospel selection according to Mark,
"Who do you say that I am?" fits that description this week.
I bow to the wisdom of those who select the sequence each
liturgical year because I always personally seem to need the
extra reflection time myself for these moments! Life for me
and my household is probably like many in the United States:
uncertain activities due to the covid variant, transition to
school whether in-person or hybrid or virtual for students
and educators, and seasonal changes that mean different
routines and responsibilities. What a perfect time to answer
that question by taking account of where Jesus is in my day
Jesus also gives us a mini-course on his expectation of
the attitude and life of whoever wants to follow him, that
is all of us who call ourselves Christians. "Taking up one's
cross" in our present day with the tragedies, natural
disasters, uncertainties, and unrest, willingly rather than
reluctantly, also requires much prayerful thought. It is
indeed one of those opportunities to spend considerable time
in personal reflection and mirror the trust of Isaiah in the
first reading that "the Lord God is my help".
The second reading challenges us to express our faith
through good works. Those works are the kind that Jesus
himself did and, therefore, which we should try to follow.
Remembering some of them, especially focusing on Jesus's
attitude toward the people he encountered, will help us
follow Jesus's attitude of unconditional caring for the less
fortunate among us and perhaps those in need in some way in
our own families. Applying Jesus's criteria for being his
follower is yet another chance for each of us to check out
the activities in our lives at this moment in time and make
some needed changes.
Twenty Fourth Sunday of Ordered Time September
Isaiah 50:5-9; Responsorial Psalm 116; James
2:14-18; Gospel Acclamation Galatians 6:14; Mark 8:27-35
As a kid I thought that Christ was the last name of
Jesus. As I became older and in seminary, I thought it meant
the chosen one, the one anointed to be king. In this sense I
was very much in the line of the nation in the time of
Jesus’ ministry. Even those disciples of Jesus who had left
all saw Jesus as the King. They sought to serve him,
catering to his ever whim. This pretty much tells us why
Mark reminds us Jesus had left Galilee – the land ruled by
Herod. He was in the villages of Caesarea Philipp, a land
ruled by Philip a brother to Herod. This was a territory
immersed in worship of pagan gods -- gods of pleasure, gods
of wealth, gods of power. It is true that what we worship,
what brings us to sacrificing our time, our minds, and our
hearts, is what we in fact worship. Those things are our
gods. Philip, clearly seeking favor from the Roman Emperor,
built a glorious temple on a high place honoring the Caesar.
That temple presented Caesar as divine, a god to be
worshipped with obedience, with a share in one’s wealth,
with unquestioning acceptance and implementation of his
decrees. Thus, the name of the territory – Caesarea
In is in this context that Jesus asks those following
him, "who do people say I am?" It is clear the people of
Galilee saw in Jesus the hope of the nation. That was the
answer the disciples gave Jesus. For them Jesus was one of
the prophets. Perhaps he was John the Baptizer, the answer
to the promise of one who would clear the way for the
Messiah through rousing the people to repentance for their
idolatries. Perhaps he was Elijah. The prophet Micah
insisted in his prophetic utterances that Elijah would
return to announce the arrival of the Messiah. Recall, the
Hebrew Scriptures portray the leaving of Elijah in a fiery
chariot descended from heaven. He doesn’t die like all
humanity at the end of their time. It made sense he would
return and announce the promised one.
If we’re listening and thinking about this gospel wonder
about the Messiah. What was the meaning of the title
"Messiah?" What vision of the Messiah’s work caused such a
longing in the hearts of ordinary people? If Messiahship is
so important, shouldn’t we call Jesus by that name – Jesus
Messiah? Instead, we call him by the Greek name for Messiah,
Christ. That means the anointed one. We read in the Hebrew
Scriptures of the anointing of Saul as first king of Israel
by the Judge, Samuel. When he succumbs to the Siren song of
power and seeks his quest for power, wealth, and influence
over the needs of the nation, he sees David as a threat and
conspires to eliminate him. As Saul falls prey to his
temptations, David is anointed by Samuel as the replacement.
With the history of David’s royal line, there is failure
upon failure. Power becomes a matter of personal privilege,
resulting in disaster visited on the people. The ark of the
covenant in the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple is
replaced by the gods of Assyria, of Egypt, and of Babylon.
Worship of those gods is in support of the reigning tyrant,
denying the dignity and worth to people of the nation. There
follows the Babylonian Captivity, a bloody defeat at the
hands of Alexander the Great, the Persians, and eventually
the Romans. Each brought their unique views of what to
worship, to what principle persons committed their living.
At the time of Jesus’s visit to Caesarea Philippi, Jewish
experience led them to think of the Messiah – the Christ –
as a powerful warlord who would defeat any and all
oppressors of their nation. That freedom experienced in the
Exodus from Egypt, in the return from Babylon at the hand of
Cyrus the Great of Persia, and in the military successes of
the Maccabees fighting against Greek customs, philosophy,
and gods: that freedom would be brought by the Messiah and
The common belief just before the coming of the promised
Messiah, the Christ, there would be terrible turmoil.
Violence would reign. Shame would disappear from the hearts
of humanity. Division and hatred would move individuals into
one way of thinking and faith or another. It would be a
period of time replicated in the world’s experience in the
late 1930’s with the rise of Fascism, Communism, and Nazism.
It is similar to our current experience of pandemic,
political belief in adulation of worldly cults, wealth, and
subversion of rights and duties of individual citizens. When
those circumstances prevailed, it was the common belief of
citizens at the beginning of our common era – these
conditions would be a sign of the Messiah’s coming was
imminent. Those conditions and feelings of persons at the
time of Jesus made Jesus the long-awaited one. Christ would
be a violent conqueror, squashing all opposition and sending
to hell evil doers, oppressors, and persons lacking
integrity. After this Armageddon, there would come a period
of peace and prosperity. Human experience over the centuries
of despots and tyrants knows this is their pathway to
personal power, wealth, and influence. Always despotic
violence was marketed as the way to "peace and prosperity."
This is important as even the disciples of Jesus were
looking for a Christ who would conquer, achieve the Kingdom
of God using violence and theft of dignity and worth of
hundreds of thousands. Those who followed the Messiah would
benefit. All others would suffer. Violence would subjugate
the hearts and minds of unbelievers and bring about peace
and prosperity. The Messiah would do all the work; the
people would bask in the glory of victory.
This Sunday’s reading from Mark’s gospel pitches such
ideas into a mix-master of history. Peter understands the
others have not yet come to know. He knows intuitively that
Jesus is the promised one. Jesus tells them not to spread
the word the Messiah, the Christ, has come. To announce
Jesus as the Messiah would stir up the people to
insurrection and violence. Conquest through violence,
through military victory, was not the way of God’s Anointed
One. As Jesus instructs, he insists he must suffer, be
rejected by the religious leadership of the Jews, and be
killed only to rise again in three days. Three days is
important. Contemporary understanding of death by the Jews
was that the spirit of a person remained with the body for
three days. When the spirit left after three days, the body
was indeed dead so there was no resuscitation or overcoming
a comatose state. Thus, Jesus’ resurrection was not mere
Peter, clearly relishing his insight approved by Jesus,
wanted to use his newfound influence to advise Jesus. But
Jesus chides him for being an obstacle to the path he must
take. Satan in the time of Jesus was not so much a person as
it was an obstacle that could be persons, a physical
condition, or a cultural attitude.
Jesus calls together a crowd along with the disciples. He
contradicts the commonly held definition of Messiah, of
Christ. This is no king, this is no god among us, this is no
Caesar. The Christ is in service to creation. Accumulation
of wealth, power, or influence cannot be the goal and
purpose of life for a follower of Jesus. This Christ is not
so much a king to be honored as a servant who heals, who
teaches, who understands pain because he endures pain for
the sake of others. Taking up one’s cross is more than
reaching out for a most horrific death. Such service is over
and done with even in the most torturous of deaths. Taking
up one’s cross means daily carrying the routine life burdens
in serving others. But no matter the length of the
suffering. Such service always results in resurrection. It
is a new creation.
In these difficult times, we are indeed lifted up from
the experience of misery by the gifts of those who serve us
to heal, to instruct, to lead, to feed, to clothe, and to
house. That’s what the reading from James’ letter is about.
The first reading from Isaiah is from the "suffering
servant" middle section of the book of Isaiah. Reading that
segment of Isiah from chapter 40 to chapter 55 would be most
helpful in understanding the suffering, the carrying of the
cross Jesus teaches. In those fifteen chapters we might come
to understand our sharing in the sufferings of the Christ
that in effect bring healing to the destructive forces of
our world. We have a role to play – that is what Jesus tells
us about taking up our cross. We cannot depend on force, on
violence, on manipulation and creation of alternate
It is our duty as members of the called together ones,
the Church, to serve as ambassadors of the Christ, to bring
Christ to the world by our daily living. It’s so very easy
to be misled into believing in the power of Caesar, in the
influence of elders and priests who serve the world, and in
the culture of death that encourages us to care only about
self to the detriment and death of others. Can we truly be
followers of the Christ if we worship Caesar in the temple
on the high hill of Caesarea Philippi? How do we answer? Do
we have the faith in the Christ so as to reside in the power
of the assembly which seeks to heal, to instruct, to feed,
clothe, house, and love creation and all that is in it?
PERSONAL versus SECOND-HAND FAITH: 24TH SUNDAY B
Isaiah 50:5-9: James 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35
There are two kinds of faith. The first is inherited
faith. This is the faith that comes from our ancestors, our
forefathers and foremothers. More immediately it is the
faith practised and passed on by our parents. The second
kind of faith is personal faith. It is the faith of those
who, helped by the ‘amazing grace’ of God, believe through
their own reasoning and reflection. There are gains and
losses to be had with each kind.
Those who inherit their faith have the advantage that
they are not easily tempted to doubt or denial. Even when
confronted with attractive arguments against what they
believe, their faith stays strong. This is because of their
strong family traditions about it, and because it has never
been part of them to analyse what they believe. But they
also have a disadvantage. They have not thought enough about
their faith. It is more a habit and a routine than a matter
of personal conviction. So too they find it hard to put into
words just what they believe. or to live what they believe.
It’s not yet a big enough part of who they are. Until it is,
they may be more cultural than convinced Christians.
Those with a personal faith have this particular
advantage. They have discovered God for themselves. They
have reached their convictions with their minds. But they
too have a disadvantage. What they believe can be shaken by
arguments to the contrary, and when that happens, they may
be tempted to ditch their faith, and even to toss it
completely overboard. For them to keep on believing, their
faith has to be grounded in something more than themselves
and their thought processes.
The best kind of faith is a mixture of both inherited and
personal faith. While affirming and valuing what has been
passed down to them, such believers also count on their
capacity to question the origin and meaning of what they
believe, to think things out for themselves, and to conclude
that their personal beliefs are solidly based, meaningful
and helpful. For Sr Joan Chittister a particularly important
question to ask and share today, is what she has labelled,
‘women as ministers of grace, not just consumers.’
It’s just not enough to say, ‘My family has been
Christian. My parents are believers.’ Because an inherited
faith is a second-hand faith! Every generation has to own
and personalize the faith that has been passed on. It has
been said that some church-goers are little better than
baptized pagans. That’s unduly harsh. But just the same, we
see some glum and tired, bored and indifferent faces in
church, the faces of people, e.g., who come late and leave
early. Words of the 19th-century philosopher Frederick
Nietzsche come to mind in their regard: ‘Christians should
look more redeemed.’
It’s important for us to come up with our own answers,
and to be able to state our beliefs and values as
Christians. It is not sufficient to repeat the official
answers and state the official formulas, such as
‘consubstantial with the Father.’ For faith to be alive and
influential in our lives, we have to make out of inherited
faith, personal faith. What our family believes is not ours
until we are walking the journey of faith ourselves, and
‘walking the walk, not just talking the talk,’ as the
rappers put it. The more convinced believers we have in the
Church, the more it is founded on rock, and not on sand.
The questions Jesus asked his apostles today are the most
important in the whole gospel. First, he asks: ‘Who do other
people say I am?’ The answers they give him were way off the
mark. Then he turns to them and asks: ‘And you, who do you
say I am?’ Peter speaks up for the group, ‘You are the
Christ.’ He says, ‘you are the Messiah, the Saviour’.
Peter got Jesus right. Jesus was, and still is, the
Messiah. But he did not get Jesus fully and perfectly right.
He did not know or accept that Jesus would be a suffering
Messiah, and not a military and political leader. That was
something he had to learn, and learn the hard way he did.
What Peter did get right were his words as far as they
went. But when he came to acting on his faith, he failed.
His lowest point was when he denied that he ever knew Jesus,
or had anything to do with him. This shows that we need
God’s grace, not only to profess our faith in words, but
also to live it, to practise it, and especially if or when
we find ourselves under pressure. In fact, in asking us what
do we think of him, Jesus also implies that additional
question: ‘So, what are you going to do about it?’
So, for the great grace of an active and practical faith,
let us pray to the Lord, both for ourselves and one another!
May the passion of Jesus Christ, and his everlasting
love, be always within our minds and hearts!
Gleeson CP" <email@example.com>
Year B: 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
"Get Behind me Satan."
I once knew a professional athlete; a sprinter; a 100
meters runner. Her name is Carol. At the age of 28, she was
coming towards the end of her 10-year career. To maintain
her sport, she worked five days a week and trained seven
evenings a week. Her only time off was going shopping on
Saturday mornings and going to church on Sunday mornings.
She ate nothing – absolutely nothing - that was not on her
diet sheet. She never went to parties, or discos. She never
had a boyfriend and did not expect either to get married or
to have children. Her entire life was devoted to running the
100 metres as fast as ever she could. This, she believed,
was God’s will for her – it was her gift; her talent; her
She told me that, when she started, ten years before,
there had been four other athletes in her group - all of
them better, stronger and faster than her. But gradually,
one by one, they had dropped out to other more attractive
things. Carol did not blame them. But she remained committed
to her ideal that one day she would get to go to the
Olympics. She believed that was for her the will of God - to
give glory to God in her running. In her ten years, two
chances to go to the Olympics had come but she had not done
well enough to be selected for the team. Now, at the age of
28, she was getting old. Her times in training were not as
good as they used to be. Other younger runners were beating
her in competition. No matter how hard she tried, she could
no longer really keep up. And now, after every race, she was
in constant pain for five days. But, even so, when the
Olympic trials came round, she was fully prepared and at her
best. And in the trials, she somehow ran much better than
she had ever run before – a personal best….
But still she missed selection for the team by two
hundredths of a second. Ten years of effort, pain and self
denial seemed to be lost in a moment. There was no fairy
Our God is not a God of fairy tales. Reality is hard and
sometimes seems unfair. Sometimes even the most deserving of
efforts goes un-rewarded. That is tough, but that is life.
Peter is a man, like other men, who likes a fairy tale
ending. His fairy tale is for Jesus to be proclaimed King,
the apostles get the big ministerial jobs and get to ride
around in whatever they used in those days instead of
Bentleys. And, like all fairy tales, it is invented by a man
who can’t bear very much reality.
But Jesus does see true reality and sees it whole. And he
knows that for the son of man to do what he came to do, he
is destined to suffer. And if anyone wants to be a follower
of him, she too must take up her cross and follow him.
Carol took a very long time to recover from her defeat.
For the first week she was in agony, physically and
mentally. Gradually, she accepted that her career was over.
She would have to give up running with her great ambition
unachieved and find other things to do with her life. That
was about nine years ago.
To this day I do not know whether Carol was right or
wrong to spend the best years of her life in the way she
did. But more than any other Christian I know, she tried –
she really tried - to pick up her cross every day and she
did her level best.
And Carol? When last I spoke with her, she said that she
never once regretted her choice in life. She feels that she
did the best she could with what she was given. And she says
if she had not done so she would’ve spent all her life
wondering. And she also says, and I really wish I could do
her South London accent, "my race ain’t run!"
And that is what I think Jesus does in today’s Gospel. He
is not content to remain comfortable and popular in Galilee.
He knows that he was put on this earth for one reason only -
to be our salvation. For that he must go to Jerusalem. And
he knows what will happen to him there. The way of the
Christ leads always to the Cross. As Christians, we believe
that we are that Cross - the burden that Jesus loves and to
which he gave his life. Jesus has taken the burden of our
broken-ness and he has dedicated his life to making us feel
in our own lives the love of God. And, because that burden
of love is what he is called by God his Father to carry, not
even his best friend can stand in his way. "Get behind me
Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but
Let us pray that whatever is our Olympic trial – the
ultimate test of our race in life – let us pray that we may
go to the start line in the best condition we can be and do
the best we can. The result will be whatever it is.
Maybe it won’t work out.
Maybe we will fail.
Maybe like Carol we will fall short by two hundredths of
But at least we will know that that we did the best that
we could do; we were the best that we could be; we carried
the crosses that we were given and we didn’t die wondering.
Let us pray that we too may come to think the way God
And let us stand and profess our Faith in God who calls
us Beyond ourselves.
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections,
and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is
Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.
-- Fr. John Boll, OP
-- ABOUT DONATIONS --
you would like to support this ministry, please send tax
deductible contributions to Jude Siciliano, O.P.,
Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.
St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive,
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:
-- REGULAR INFORMATION ---
UN-subscribe or Subscribe, email "Fr. John J. Boll,
-- WEB PAGE ACCESS --
http://www.preacherexchange.com Where you will
find "Preachers' Exchange," which includes "First
Impressions" and "Homilías
Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews and quotes
pertinent to preaching.
Also "Daily Reflections" and "Daily Bread." and many other
A service of The Order of Preachers, The Dominicans.
Province of St. Martin De Porres
(Southern Dominican Province, USA)
Box 8129, New Orleans, LA 70182
837-2129 ● Fax (504) 837-6604
(form revised 2020-09-23)
Volume II Archive
We keep up to six articles in this archive. The latest
is always listed first.