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Sunday, 9/23/2018, Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have No Fear—God Is Here

First Reading Commentary: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20

Sometimes we try to do good but no matter how hard we try; the only thing that we end up doing is getting ourselves into trouble. We see someone about to make a mistake and we try to stop them but all they do is get mad at us. We try to offer someone assistance and they say, “Get out of my way” or “Stay in your lane.” We see a loved one living on the wrong side of life and we try to advise them but they say, “It’s my life; mind your business.”

Sometimes, people get so upset with us that they try to take their troubles out on us or want to persecute us for trying to be so righteous. That’s what happened when Joseph’s brothers wanted to throw him into the cistern. See Genesis 37:20.

Isn’t that also what happened to Jesus? Didn’t He come to do all that He could to save us only to be persecuted for His efforts by those who did not want to accept Him? That is what today’s reading from Wisdom is all about.

The persecutors tested the Word of Jesus saying that if He was the Son of God that God would defend Him. They just could not see His divinity. They refused to accept the fact that God was all merciful and forgiving so they decided to torture Jesus and put Him to a shameful death. But Jesus did not allow the persecution to stop Him. He remained silent through it all and did what He had to do!

So, what is the message for us in all of this? I can think of many but there are three that I want to talk about. 1- Be like Jesus. 2- Keep the faith. 3- Have no fear.

When we are attacked, our first instinct is to retaliate. We defend ourselves and often times, we seek revenge. But Jesus was silent like a lamb because He was the Lamb of God.

Have you ever noticed that the person making the most fuss in an argument is usually the one who is either wrong or lying? God is never wrong and God never lies because He is the Truth. Therefore, Jesus could not be proven wrong. Jesus could have retaliated and by nothing more than a thought, He could have destroyed His persecutors. Instead, while on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

When someone wages an attack against us and seeks to persecute us with an argument which is based on lies, there is no need for us to argue with them. In fact, because of our silence, they usually make themselves look bad. So, we should be like Jesus by saying nothing more than what we have to say, pray for them and forgive them.

Jesus stayed focused on His mission of taking our sins to the cross and was committed to seeing it through. The Son had faith in the Father. Jesus knew that the Father would be merciful and forgiving and welcome all of us into heaven if He nailed our sins to the cross. Likewise, the Father had faith in the Son. He knew that Jesus would complete His mission. Faith is more than just a gift of the Holy Spirit—Faith is the way of and the way to God!

I lost count a long time ago of how many times we get the message, “Be not afraid.” We were given that message by Isaiah in last week’s first reading and I said, “When we serve God, there is nothing that anyone can do to hurt us in any way. They cannot shame us or dispute our right or prove us wrong because God is with us and nothing can hurt or defeat Him—not even death.” So, have no fear—God is here!

Be a Peacemaker

Second Reading Commentary: James 3:16—4:3

War has become such a common thing in the world today that we don’t seem to take it seriously anymore. We go on about our business each and every day like there is no war. Maybe that’s because we don’t have physical warfare going on inside of our territorial boundaries. But then again, we have to wonder when we consider all of the crime that is on our streets and the divisive atmosphere within our government and society. Why is there so much conflict?

Today James tells us that where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice and that war comes from our passions. Fact is that we never satisfy our passions, which explains why we are always at odds with each other.

But James is not talking about physical conflicts. He is talking about spiritual conflicts and more specifically, the conflicts which exist within the Christian community. I have addressed the question of why there are so many denominations of Christianity several times before so today, I will address another question.

Why is the Catholic Community itself, so divisive? For that matter, why is any denomination of Christianity or any other religion so divisive within itself? The answer is because no religion is perfect. Religion cannot be perfect because people are not perfect. Because the Church, no matter what the religion, is the people; religion will always have problems and divisiveness will always exist.

For example, some religions argue that Sunday is the day that we should give to God because that is the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Others hold true to the Old Testament saying that Saturday should be the day that we give to God because it is the seventh day and the Sabbath. Really? Must we argue with each other over such things? When you get right down to it, neither answer is wrong and we should be giving every day to God? Each religion is so busy trying to prove the other wrong that all of them loose touch with what is important—God.

Divisiveness even exists within our own individual church communities and can sometimes be so petty. Someone gets a new car and another says, “Must be nice.” Friction exists between different ministries where instead of focusing on their ministry, people bad mouth and gossip about people in other ministries. Imagine that! Right in church we completely loose touch with why we are there.

But today, James also tells us how good wisdom from above is. Let’s look at two of the things that James says. First, James says that wisdom from above is pure. Can’t be any other way because, it comes from God. That’s why when speaking using God’s wisdom; no one can argue with you or prove you wrong.

Second, God’s wisdom is full of mercy and good fruits. Can you imagine our God being anything other than all-merciful? There is a lyric in a song that came out in the seventies that says, “If there’s a hell below; we all gonna go.” If God were anything less than all-merciful, that lyric would definitely be true. We are all sinners so we would all be going to hell. But we are not all going to hell so give praise and say, “Thank You!”

Not only is heaven there for us to choose because God sacrificed His only Son for our salvation; God continues to give Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit who counsels us and does His best to protect us with His gifts and fruits and all we have to do is call on Him.

James also speaks about righteousness saying, “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” Here James is making reference to the Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9 Jesus reminds us of this Beatitude in today’s gospel.

I cannot imagine having peace without love or love without peace and God is both! Therefore, if we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with the fruit of righteousness (goodness), peace will come with it and if we do our best to commit ourselves to righteousness, we will be called a child of God.

Receive the Son, Receive the Father, Receive God

Gospel Commentary: Mark 9:30-37

Like last week, today’s gospel from Mark, which is the Second Prediction of the Passion and The Greatest in the Kingdom, is accounted for by both Matthew and Luke. See Matthew 17:22-23 and 18:1-5 and Luke 9:43-48.

Mark tells us that Jesus and the disciples began a journey through Galilee but He did not wish anyone to know about it. We have to ask two questions. 1- What did Jesus not want anyone to know? 2- Why?

If you can relate to the idea of being sick, very sick, and not wanting your family members or friends to know just how sick you really are, then you can relate to why Jesus did not want the disciples to know that He was actually on His way to Jerusalem for the last time. Jesus was on His way to begin His Passion. Jesus also knew what the disciples would be discussing among themselves along the way and He had lessons to teach them.

So, without telling the disciples that He was actually on His way to be handed over, Jesus made His second prediction of the Passion. For the second time, He told the disciples that the Son of Man would be handed over to men who would kill Him and after three days, He would rise. The disciples did not understand but they did not question Jesus. Probably because they did not want to be rebuked the way that they were after the first prediction but they also had something else on their minds.

They were discussing and arguing among themselves about which one of them was the greatest. Think about that. Jesus had just given the disciples the second prediction of His Passion and all they could think about was themselves.

When they got to Capernaum, Jesus asked them what they were discussing and Mark tells us that they remained silent. Why? You would think that they might want to ask Jesus questions about who would be the greatest. Or maybe they might have asked what one has to do to become the greatest. Not at all because they had surrendered to the deadly sin of pride and when Jesus asked them what they were discussing, they no doubt came to their senses and realized their sin.

So, Jesus sat down with the Twelve and said, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” This is not the first time that Jesus made such a statement to them nor would it be the last and Jesus was teaching the Twelve two very important lessons about humility and service to others.

Some people, doctors and nurses for example, care for others for a living. Some people, such as those who care for loved ones, care for others out of necessity because there is no one else to do it. Some people, volunteers for example, care for others because it is in their hearts to serve others. This is what Jesus was grooming the Twelve to do—Serve others with humility from the heart. 

Doesn’t it feel great when you do something for someone for no reason other than because you feel like it? That’s because when you do, you are following God’s way and that always feels good.

Jesus put His arms around a child and said, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” There was a much deeper meaning to what Jesus did and said than caring for children. Jesus used the child as an example representing all of those who were oppressed in any way, the sick and the unwanted.

We do the exact opposite of what Jesus was teaching the disciples when we ignore the poor or fail to take care of our sick or submit the unborn to abortion. When those who hold public office and those who want to hold public office support and put into practice, legislation which takes benefits away from the needy, fails to provide adequate and fair health care to all of the sick and fosters unnecessary abortions, they violate what Jesus was telling all of us to do when He was teaching the Twelve. When we support those leaders and would be leaders in our government, we make ourselves just as guilty.

We should all take today’s gospel to heart because when we provide for the poor, care for our sick, protect the unborn, and do not allow the sin of pride to consume us, we receive the Son and when we receive the Son, we receive the One who sent the Son—the Father. Bottom line: we receive God and we become one of the blessed peacemakers who, is a child of God!

Reading 1         Wisdom 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

Responsorial Psalm          54:3-8

R. The Lord upholds my life.

O God, by your name save me, and by your might defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer; hearken to the words of my mouth.
R. The Lord upholds my life.

For the haughty men have risen up against me, the ruthless seek my life; they set not God before their eyes.
R. The Lord upholds my life.

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life.
Freely will I offer you sacrifice; I will praise your name, O LORD, for its goodness.
R. The Lord upholds my life.

Reading 2          James 3:16-4:3

Beloved: Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.
You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Gospel          Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it.
He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”
But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Wear the mask!
Wash your hands!
Maintain social distancing!
Pray for our leadership!

Get the vaccine!

The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Paragraph 767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church."174 Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun."175 As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.176

The Holy Spirit came to Mary and the Apostles as tongues of fire.

Saint of the Day

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Gandhi's advice is a great way to follow today's message from Wisdom, James and Christ.

Words can start wars or bring peace. Peace is better!

Alleluia Cf. 2 Thesalonians 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Minute Meditations

Relying on Jesus

If the Lord is calling us to do something, He won't abandon us. It's extremely important to rely on Him not only when we are coming to a decision but also as we are carrying out our plan of action. When Jesus said, "I am with you always", He wasn't kidding! — from Faith, Hope & Clarity

Jesus used the child as an example representing all of those who were oppressed in any way, the sick and the unwanted.

Saints of the Week

Blessed John Henry Newman


Saints Louis Martin and
Zelie Guerin

(8/22/1823 – 7/29/1894 &
12/23/1831 – 8/28/1877)

Pope Paul VI

(9/26/1897 – 8/61978)

St. Vincent de Paul

(1580 – 9/27/1660)
Patron Saint of:
Charitable Societies

St. Wenceslaus
(c. 907 – 929)
Patron Saint of:

Saints Michael, Gabriel & Raphael
the Archangels

Patron Saints of: Death, Germany, Grocers, Police Officers & Radiologists
Saint Gabriel is the
Patron Saint of: Broadcasters
Saint Raphael is the
Patron Saint of: The Blind

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