Lectionary Reflections: Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [b] September 13, 2015

Engaging Faith | Tue, Sep 8, 2015

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

September 13, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern


Isaiah 50:5-9a

James 2:14-18

Mark 8:27-35



September 13: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins at sunset

September 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month begins (ends October 15)

September 21: International Day of Peace



A Christian who is too attached to riches has lost his way.

-Pope Francis, @Pontifex Aug 25, 2015

Listening to the cry of those who suffer violence and are oppressed by unjust systems and structures, and hearing the appeal of a world that by its perversity contradicts the plan of its Creator, we have shared our awareness of the Church's vocation to be present in the heart of the world by proclaiming the Good News to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, and joy to the afflicted.

-1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, 5

The elimination of world hunger has, in the global era, become a requirement for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet. Hunger is not so much dependent on lack of material things as on shortage of social resources, the most important of which are institutional. What is missing, in other words, is a network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water for nutritional needs, and also capable of addressing the primary needs and necessities ensuing from genuine food crises, whether due to natural causes or political irresponsibility, nationally and internationally. The problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries. 

-Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 27

The power of the Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead, is continuously at work in the world. Through the generous sons and daughters of the Church likewise, the People of God is present in the midst of the poor and of those who suffer oppression and persecution; it lives in its own flesh and its own heart the Passion of Christ and bears witness to his resurrection. 

-1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, 74

The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. 

-Pope Francis, Laudato Si', 13


Thoughts for your consideration

The letter of James clearly and emphatically reminds us that our faith must be put into practice.  “Faith without works is dead.”  People of faith cannot ignore the needs of those without food or clothing or shelter. People of faith have a special concern for those who are poor or struggling.  People of faith must address the needs of the environment (our common home). People of faith cannot ignore the inequalities that are built into our economic and social structures. People of faith cannot be afraid to ask the difficult questions. Otherwise, our faith is a sham.

The servant song from Isaiah challenges us to be determined and committed in the midst of difficulty and to be dedicated to what we believe even in the midst of opposition.  We live in a culture where we often encounter values different than our Christian values. The needs and perspective of the poor are often ignored. The “faith in practice” described by James in the second reading is not always the value of our dominate culture.  People of faith cannot ignore the needs of those without food or clothing or shelter or health care. People of faith have a special concern for those who are poor or struggling. Otherwise our faith is a sham.  

Jesus seems to be making a similar point when he tells Peter “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  The vision of Jesus, the vision of God, is not always identical to that of our dominate culture.  People of faith cannot ignore the needs of those without food or clothing or shelter or healthcare. People of faith have a special concern for those who are poor or struggling. People of faith cannot be blind to the countless refugees who are fleeing danger and poverty.  People of faith focus on the “common good.”  Otherwise our faith is a sham.  

Sometimes, as with Jesus, we will encounter opposition, struggle and suffering as we try to live out this faith.  Jesus is the one who is in solidarity with all those who are living the experience of poverty and powerlessness and with all those who are struggling for justice.  Elizabeth Johnson in her book, She Who Is writes: “Christ crucified and risen, the Wisdom of God, manifests the truth that divine justice and renewing power leavens the world in a way different from the techniques of dominating violence.  The victory of shalom is won not by the sword of the warrior god, but by the awesome power of compassionate love, in and through solidarity with those who suffer.”


Questions For Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • James writes: “Faith without works is dead.” How are you alive or dead?


  • Where in our world do you see or experience economic and social inequality? How are you called to work for healing?


  • How do you connect the Catholic teaching about “preferential option for the poor” to the issues that are being raised in the United States elections?


  • How are you inspired by the recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, to act into action to protect the environment, our common home?



The Jewel Merchant

Two jewel merchants arrived at a caravanserai in the desert at about the same time one night. Each was quite conscious of the other's presence, and while unloading his camel, one of them could not resist the temptation to let a large pearl fall to the ground as if by accident. It rolled in the direction of the other who, with affected graciousness, picked it up and returned it to its owner saying, "That is a fine pearl you have there, sir. As large and lustrous as they come."

"How gracious of you to say so," said the other. As a matter of fact, that is one of the smaller gems in my collection."

A bedouin who was sitting by the fire and had observed this drama, rose and invited the two of them to eat with him. When they began their meal, this is the story he told them:

"I, too, my friends, was once upon a time, a jeweler like you. One day I was overtaken by a great storm in the desert. It buffeted me and my caravan this way and that till I was separated from my entourage and lost my way completely.

Days passed and I was panic-stricken to realize that I was really wandering bout in circles with no sense of where I was or which direction to walk in. Then, almost dead with starvation, I unloaded every bag on my camel's back, anxiously searching through them for the hundredth time.

Imagine my excitement when I came upon a pouch that had escaped my notice before. With trembling fingers I ripped it open hoping to find something to eat. Imagine my disillusionment when I found that all it contained was pearls!"

By Anthony DeMello, S.J. (


“Crazy Facts”

  • 7 out of 10 Sub-Saharan Africans don't have access to electricity. 
  • 90 million sub-Saharan children have no electricity at school. 


  • “In Sub-Saharan Africa, the researchers found food security will be the overarching challenge, with dangers from droughts, flooding, and shifts in rainfall. Between 1.5°C-2°C warming, drought and aridity, will contribute to farmers losing 40-80 percent of cropland conducive to growing maize, millet, and sorghum by the 2030s-2040s.”



Actions - Links

Interreligious Dialogue with Judaism

  • We are in a season of major Jewish religious observances. Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins at sunset on September 13. Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement), the most solemn Jewish holy day devoted to prayer and repentance, is September 23.  Resources on Catholic relations with the Jewish community can be found at:

International Day of Peace

  • International Day of Peace (September 21) is an effort to join people to create a global ceasefire and day of peace and nonviolence.  For info go to:

Poverty Is Sexist

Refugees Fleeing to Europe

  • Read the Jesuit Refugee Service’s article entitled “Stop refugee deaths: yes we can” at:


Prayers of Intersession

Response: Almighty God, empower us to put our faith into works.

For those who are poor and without adequate food, clothing or shelter, we pray….

For those who are with employment at living wage, we pray….

For all our children who are without access to a quality education, we pray….

For all those who do not have access to the medical help that they need, we pray….

For all those who are denied any of their basic human rights, we pray….

For those who are being denied their political and religious freedom, we pray….

For all those who are suffering in any way, especially those who are suffering as they struggle to put their faith into practice, we pray….

For our planet that suffers from human behavior and abuse, we pray….


Prayer - Meditation

An International Prayer for Peace  

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth.

Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.

Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.

Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.

Peace, peace, peace. 

(Adapted by “Anglo-Catholic Socialism” from the Upanishads by Satish Kumar)


For Those in Poverty 

by: Education for Justice


God of justice and compassion,


We ask forgiveness for the widening gulf between rich and poor,

For the use of money as a measure of all things,

For the culture of self-gratification,

For the continuing disparities between those that have so much and those who have so little.

And for the suffering of those people who are excluded from the table of abundance.


Forgive us for our focus on material goods,

And our part in the worship of economic growth

In a world where resources are limited

and where we are already using more than our fair share.


Forgive us for going along with what is easy,

For failing to come to grips with the problems of change

And to engage in the complexity of social issues.


Fill us with a living faith that we may become lively seeds of your kingdom,

Continually growing in your way of love,

Instruments of personal and social reconciliation,

Vehicles for a new dawn when those in poverty

Are welcomed to the table where compassion and justice meet.


Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer.


Based on a prayer by Alan Litherland