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Contents: Volume 2 - Twenty Fifth Sunday of Ordered Time Year B September 19th, 2021

 

  25th

SUNDAY

Year

(B)


1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Sun. 25 B

Today's set of readings are another opportunity for a long look at ourselves via a scriptural examination of conscience of sorts. Every once in awhile, it is good to ask oneself "who am I?" or "who am I becoming?" Then again, to ask "what kind of a person do the people around me think that I am?"

The truth is that each of us is a combination of good and not so good thoughts and actions. We spend our lives trying to weed out the not so good by the grace of God. Some days or periods of time seem better than others!

Readings such as these contribute to the weeding out process. These readings help me realize the treasure of the openness of children to listen, then learn to discern, then learn to act rightly and justly. They prompt me to listen and learn more about God, grace, and myself.

Yes, there are times that we act like the wicked, or out of our passions, or even selfishly. Let us not ask wrongly. Let us ask the Lord to be with us on this journey and guide us, by grace, to the place we need to be.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Fifth Sunday of Ordered Time September 19, 2021

Wisdom 2;12 & 1 7-20; Responsorial Psalm 54; James 3:16 – 4:3; Gospel Acclamation 2nd Thessalonians 2:14; Mark 9:30-37

There is another turning point in Mark’s gospel reading this Sunday. Jesus’ safety is assured so long as he is in the north country. In that territory the power of occupying Romans and the religious domination of Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Chief Priests are ineffective. The crowds in this north country witness Jesus’ healing. The crowds were drawn to Jesus’ messages of hope that made sense. The Pharisaic domination of law over common sense and common good, lacked power to influence these ordinary folk. The message of Jesus presented in parable and story and healing action brough forth a message these ordinary folk could grasp and understand. Well, they could understand up to a point. The parables stuck in their memories and their meaning and application became more clear as these ordinary folk continued living ordinary lives. That’s the wonder of parables – they stick in our minds and eventually work on the movements of our hearts and we are changed. It’s sort of like the parables and healing experiences have a journey. They move from the mind and work on the heart. It’s a journey of our spirit, our soul.

This journey with his disciples was to prepare them. It is a journey of discovery for them. They basked in the wonder of Jesus’ miracles. They marveled at his words which gave purposeful meaning to more than a thousand years of the Chosen People’s experience. On this long walk to his home base of Capharnaum, Jesus could not help but notice animated discussions among his chosen ones. He questioned them. "What was the loud debate you guys were having?" Not one of them dared to say that they had been arguing about who was the most important follower of Jesus. They were jockeying for a position in the new Kingdom of Jesus the Messiah. Who would be chancellor: who would be speaker of the house; who would be senate leader; who would be attorney general; who would be secretary of defense in this new kingdom of the Messiah?

This strikes us as selfish and self-centered behavior. What a bunch of egotists! In the presence of the Son of God, the Messiah, they argue about status, about power, about importance! In our time it would be like a priest jockeying for a bishopric: or a bishop jockeying to be archbishop: or an archbishop politicking to be a cardinal: or a cardinal campaigning to be the next pope. Surely this doesn’t happen?

The gospel does speak about a journey from the north country with a stop at home, before crossing over Samaria into Jerusalem. It’s a journey. Each step of a journey either brings us to our destination or is a turn from our goal. This is not like Star Trek where we can instruct Scotty to "beam us up." This journey is one step after another. These disciples in this Sunday’s gospel had been with Jesus for a long time. They had heard his message. They had seen how he cured outcasts because of physical or mental or spiritual disease, bringing them into a full engagement with society. Yet, they had the audacity to argue among themselves who would be given the most important role in this new kingdom they hoped for.

Perhaps the problem is they didn’t understand the goal? Perhaps they considered status a fitting reward for leaving left a thriving fishing business, walking away from family? Perhaps they didn’t understand this Jesus? It’s obvious they were looking for a gifted military strategist. From where we sit, it is easy to condemn those feelings. We ought to recall being a disciple is a journey. It’s essential for our journey that we understand our own pride and pursuit of the world’s measures of a successful life.

We are on a journey. If we think the goal of the journey is about us, we are mistaken. It is not influence, power, wealth, or even pleasure that is the purpose of our journey. Every experience or threat we encounter is part of our journey. We either grow from those experiences or we rot. We are encouraged to live our life as though it’s about accumulations, ascendancy to power, enjoyment of the finer things available. Those goals, as wonderful as attractive as they seem, are actually fluff. Wealth, power, influence, and pleasure are strong motivators. We need all of these attractions to survive. On our journey, there comes a time when we "get it" and begin to understand and live the way of the Messiah. It takes many steps on our journey to discover the Incarnated One. Jesus is God and Man. He shows us the way. Amid the joys and achievements of human life there is always the shadow of the cross. Without the cross there is no resurrection. We’re not masochists. Suffering and pain are a part of what it means to be human. We don’t need to look for pain. It’s a part of living.

Living is itself a test of our character. Perhaps we’d be better focused if we think of character as the spirit, the soul of who we are. Human life is a matter of growth, even in the stages of life that are painful. Life is a journey, a step-by-step movement toward becoming, by choices and experience, the potential of the uniqueness of image and likeness of God in which we were uniquely created.

The gospel insists our goal is to live a life of service to those we encounter. If we contemplate the parables, the words, and the miracles of Jesus, we’ll realize it’s loving others as we love ourselves that is the imitation of the Christ. We should not despair when we view ourselves as failing to achieve fullness of character, depth of spirit, or vitality of soul. It’s a journey that leads us to Jerusalem and to resurrection.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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BEING FAITHFUL TO THE WAY OF JESUS: 25th SUNDAY B

Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

It’s a well-known fact that many men read a newspaper backwards. This is because of their great interest, sometimes even fanatical interest, in sport. Their interest extends to all kinds of sports, even sports played in other countries. They may have noticed, then, that a while back the New York Yankees Baseball Team paid $30 million for a new star performer. As a result, they began to win games galore.

What’s clear here, there, and everywhere is that the club with the most money can buy a champion team. What’s also clear is that the famous saying of American football coach Vince Lombardi rings bells with many people: ‘Winning isn’t everything,’ he said, ‘It’s the only thing.’

No doubt about it! Achievement, winning, success, being number one, and beating all opposition, are among the strongest values of human beings everywhere. For that very reason, the parish bulletin, like cigarette packets, might have carried a counter-cultural warning today. It might have read: ‘Warning! Hearing and listening to the Word of God today might cause you dizziness, confusion, and disorientation!’

Why do I say that? Because the message God is giving us today is so different. In a nutshell, WHAT GOD IS TELLING US IS THAT HE IS NOT ASKING US TO BE WINNERS BUT TO BE FAITHFUL. Jesus in particular is putting that path of fidelity to us no matter what our fidelity may cost us. In his case, the price he paid for fidelity was the way of the cross - the way of pain, torture, and humiliation. It was a path that would finally lead to victory, the victory of the resurrection. But to reach that victory he had to first pass through the agony and brutality of his Passion and Death.

While I sense that the way of Jesus is ‘the road less traveled’ for most human beings, there are significant exceptions. One striking exception I’ve read about (perhaps in a piece from Paul O’Reilly SJ?) is a Sister Mary, who works in a health service for homeless people in London. After working most of her life as a doctor in Africa, she came home to England. She was horrified to discover enormous numbers of people living homeless on the streets of the capital. It made her angry that in such a wealthy country there could be so many people who were so poor, so uncared for, and so unloved. So rather than retire, she set herself to work for the homeless people she saw, including providing them with a free medical service.

One day, a man who had been homeless for about 30 years came into one of the hostels for the homeless. He was about 55, and had been abusing alcohol and other drugs for nearly forty years. When he arrived, could he have been any dirtier? His entire body, clothes, hair, and face were covered with a thick matted mess of dirt, drool, vomit, and dried blood. There were even lice crawling on his skin. To protect the other residents, the warden of the hostel insisted that he could stay only if he had a bath. But the man refused point-blank.

Even on a bitterly cold January night in London, he would prefer to go back to the streets rather than take a bath. A male volunteer tried to talk to him, to reason with him, but he kept shouting all kinds of nonsense, and would not listen at all. So, the volunteer called his boss, Sister Mary, for advice. She said she would come and talk to the man. When she arrived, she said nothing. She just sat down beside him and held both his hands in hers. Instantly, he stopped shouting and began to weep. For a long time, he just sobbed his heart out. At last, after what seemed like an eternity, he said: ‘That’s the first time anyone has touched me like that in twenty years.’

Softened by that touch, he had a bath, a shave, and a haircut, and put on a clean set of clothes. Within an hour he seemed like a new man. But the real miracle was what happened next. From that day to this he has never drunk any alcohol or used any drugs. Within three months he found a job and moved out of the temporary hostel into his own flat. That one moment of grace - of love and compassion communicated - has changed his life forever.

0f course such a dramatic change does not happen often or easily. But that’s exactly what did happen to that particular homeless man.

So, Jesus means what he’s saying to us today: ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me…’ I cannot think of a more powerful illustration of his teaching than the story of Sr. Mary and the homeless man. It convinces me that the essence of true greatness is found in loving, serving, and helping others, and in doing that, being the best, that we can be.

Surely, then, an authentic life is not about seeking out those people who can do things for us, but those for whom we can do things, and do them with the humility, kindness, gentleness, care, compassion, and grace practised by Jesus himself, and doing them without any thought of reward or recognition other than believing and knowing that this is the way and will of Jesus.

His way and his will surely, for both you and me! Can we rise to his challenge?

May the passion of Jesus Christ, and his everlasting love, be always within our minds and hearts!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year B: 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

If you go to Liverpool Street Station and you happen not to be in a terrible hurry to catch your train (or like me, are willing to admit that you have already missed it), you may notice, tucked away in an unobtrusive little corner, a sculpture in bronze of two small sad looking children - a boy and a girl - and a large suitcase.

And then you can look at it for quite a long time trying to work out what it’s supposed to be about. You will notice that the suitcase is really old fashioned, that the clothes are patched and ragged and that the boy is wearing a yarmulke – a skull cap typical of Jewish boys. But eventually, you will give up and just do the sensible thing, which is to read the inscription which tells you that this is a memorial of the ‘Kindertransport’. And that is a story everyone should know.

As all the world now knows, between 1938 and 1945 something of the order of five and a half million Jews, plus three and a half million Catholics were murdered by people who regarded themselves as their spiritual and moral superiors. This was done in such secrecy that its full reality only became known when the invading allies over-ran the extermination camps. The vagueness of the numbers is part of the shame. Even in the hands of the most efficient, mass murder is an inexact science.

And of those five and a half million, one and a half million were children.

I say that "all the world now knows", but it took a long time for people to be convinced that such an evil could have been done as an instrument of state policy in a civilized Western European state. Even to this day, there are people who simply refuse to believe that human beings could really have perpetrated such an appalling crime against other people of their own species, race and nationality - and even against children.

But in this country there were a few people who saw it coming. Some of them were Jewish leaders in this country concerned for the fate of their co-religionists, but most of them were Quakers motivated by a simple love of humanity. They read and heard what the Nazis said, and they could imagine what would happen if the Nazis got the chance to put state-sponsored hatred into practice. Sadly, in history, the Holocaust was neither the first nor the last nor even the largest mass murder committed by men who - in the words of the Hebrew Bible - had lost respect for both God and man. And they knew that they must at least save the children.

After Kristallnacht, the 10th November 1938, when all over Germany and Austria, a state sponsored riot coordinated attacks on Jewish people, homes, businesses and synagogues, they knew that the did not have much time. So they petitioned the British government for a change in the law that would permit unaccompanied Jewish refugee children to be admitted to the United Kingdom.

They were successful and the first party of refugee Jewish children landed at Harwich docks on 2nd December, 1938, just three weeks after Kristallnacht, and took the train to Liverpool Street Station. And over the following nine months before the war began, ten thousand Jewish children were rescued. Where that memorial now stands in Liverpool Street Station, each of them must have stood, alone, unaccompanied, bereft and bewildered and wondering what was going to happen to them next.

When the war ended the great majority remained in Britain and as adults made considerable contributions to Britain’s services, industries, commerce, education, science and the arts, for the defence, welfare and development of their country of adoption. Four of them were honored with Nobel prizes.

Long after the war, one of the Quakers who had founded the Kindertransport movement was asked what really was ten thousand out of one and a half million - less than one per cent.

He replied, "It is ten thousand. In my dreams I hear one and a half million thanking me for the ten thousand."

With all due respect to those who fought heroically against Nazism, never in the field of human peace-making have so many owed their lives to so few.

So if you should ever happen to find yourself in front of that statue in Liverpool Street Station, take a few minutes just to look at that little girl; look into her sad little eyes and pray.

Pray that we ourselves may never lose our love of God and of humanity.

Pray that such things may never happen on our soil.

Pray that we may always be a nation in which everyone has a place to rest their head.

And Pray that we may always be a nation which suffers the little children to come to us.

Paul O'Reilly SJ <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

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