Lectionary Reflections for Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time [c] September 8, 2013

Engaging Faith | Fri, Sep 6, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time [c] September 8, 2013



Wisdom 9:13-18b

Philemon 9-10, 12-17

Luke 14:25-33



Sept. 4-6:  Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)

Sept. 11:  Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of 2001

Sept. 13-14: Yom Kippur, Jewish Day of Atonement

Sept. 15 to Oct. 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month 



“The individual today is often suffocated between two poles represented by the State and the marketplace. At times it seems as though the individual exists only as a producer and consumer of goods, or as an object of State administration. People lose sight of the fact that life in society has neither the market nor the State as its final purpose.  - Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, No. 49


“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form of its innate violence. To allow myself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in to succumb to violence. The frenzy of the activist... destroys the fruitfulness of one's own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.” - Thomas Merton                                                          

“Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.… Once we are able to life simply and happily, we are better able to help others.  - Thich Nhat Hanh, “Being Peace,” 92-3


“It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards ‘having’ rather than ‘being,’ and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself. It is therefore necessary to create life-styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments. - Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, No. 36

“Jesus wants neither selfish Christians, who follow their egos and do not speak with God, nor weak Christians, without will: ‘remote-controlled’ Christians, incapable of creativity, who seek ever to connect with the will of another, and are not free.  - Pope Francis, June 30, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Thoughts for your consideration

Jesus seems to be saying that if you do not know your limits, you will end up doing “stupid things.” You end up building a house which you cannot finish. You end up fighting a war that you cannot win. You end up attaching excessive value to your possessions. You will end up not doing the life giving thing God wants.

The first reading also reminds us of our limits. The world is more than the material. Material possessions are not to be the defining things of our existence.  

Jesus goes so far as to say that we should renounce our possessions. It seems that so many people spend their life and all their energy getting, protecting and worrying about more and more material things. Jesus invites us to a freedom from all that. In other words, we are called to renounce materialism and keep our values in perspective. We might even hear a call to adopt a simpler style of life and move away from the “consumerism” that dominates our culture.

Jesus goes so far as to say that we should even renounce members of our family. One way to think of this strange command is to see it an invitation to freedom – as an invitation or radical challenge not to see any person as a possession – as a person that we own.  Unless parents let go of their children, there can be no healthy adult relationship.  Unless we treat each other as adults, filled with the dignity and freedom that comes from God, we cannot really be Christian brothers and sisters. 

Catholic Social Teaching is based on the dignity of the human person. No person can be the possession of another.  No person’s value is found in what they own or control or possess. No one is to be a slave to things. Rather we are all called to be free. Maybe that is what Paul is trying to talk about in the second reading when he talks about treating Onesimus as a brother and no longer as a slave.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What things have you given up or let go of?  

When have you realized your limits and given up something you wanted?  

Did it result in any sense of freedom or new life?


How has the unemployment and underemployment of the current recession affected you and your family and your community of friends and neighbors?

What does Catholic Social Tradition say about our situation?



A convict escaped from prison by digging a tunnel. It came up outside the prison in a school playground. The convict was so happy when he emerged from the tunnel he exclaimed, "I'm free, I'm free!"

"So what," said a little girl, "I'm four."


Actions – Links


“Can savage capitalism be humanized? Taking up the challenge of Pope Francis”


Take Action to End Mountaintop Removal


How can we be a church of the poor?



“Crazy Facts”

“Imprisonment rates in the United States have been on an upward march since the early 1970s. From 1978, when there were 307,276 inmates in state and federal prisons, the population increased annually, reaching a peak of 1,615,487 inmates in 2009. The number of inmates in state and federal prisons decreased by 1.7 percent, to an estimated 1,571,013 in 2012 from 1,598,783 in 2011.”


“The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid. More than 60 percent of people in prison now are racial or ethnic minorities, according to The Sentencing Project. These minorities are part of a total prison population that eclipses that of any other nation in the world. At the federal level, more than half of these individuals are locked up for nonviolent drug or immigration offenses.” 


Prayers of Intercession

Response:  Creator God, bless us all and help us all labor for the common good.

For all workers in our economy, that they may enjoy the just fruits of their labor, we pray…

For all those who do not receive who still do not receive a living wage for their labor, we pray…

For all those who are unemployed or underemployed, that they may find good and productive work, we pray…

For those who have been injured or killed in the course of their work, we pray…

For our government and its leaders, that they may adapt policies that protect the life and dignity of each worker in a renewed and robust economy, we pray…

That the market, the state, civil society, unions and employers, all work together for the common good, we pray….

That our economy be work to respect the environment and all the gifts of creation, we pray…


Prayer – Meditation

Respecting one another


God our Father,

you call each of us by name,

and you treasure each of us individually

as though no-one else exists.


Inspire us to respect and value

each person who comes into our lives this day.




Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern