Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

Engaging Faith | Tue, Aug 28, 2012

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the twenty-second Sunday of ordinary time - 2 September 2012.

Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

September 2, 2012


Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23


September 3: Labor Day in the United States
September 8: International Literacy Day
September 8: Feast of the Nativity of Mary


The world's wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 22

… it should be stressed that progress of a merely economic and technological kind is insufficient. Development needs above all to be true and integral.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 23

The acquisition of worldly goods can lead people to greed, to the unrelenting desire for more, to the pursuit of greater personal power. Rich and poor alike — be they individuals, families or nations — can fall prey to avarice and soul stifling materialism. … Neither individuals nor nations should regard the possession of more and more goods as the ultimate objective.  …  The exclusive pursuit of material possessions prevents people’s growth as human beings and stands in opposition to true grandeur. Avarice, in individuals and in nations, is the most obvious form of stultified moral development.
-- Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed.
-- Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions.
-- Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

We cherish this hope: that distrust and selfishness among nations will eventually be overcome by a stronger desire for mutual collaboration and a heightened sense of solidarity.
-- Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

Thoughts for your consideration

The scriptures today invite us to look within ourselves and within our society and consider whether we have our values in order – whether are priorities are right. 

> Moses exhorts the people to be sure that they are following the wisdom of the God who liberated them and led them from slavery to freedom.
> James reminds everyone:  “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. … Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
> Jesus responds to the Pharisees by pointing out their preoccupation with laws and traditions rather than be what is really important. What is important to look at is what leads to “evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly.”

The social teaching of the church challenges us as did Moses, James and Jesus, so that we do not lose sight of what is really important.  God is concerned with justice and peace.  God is concerned with the poor and most vulnerable of our world.  God is concerned with peace in the world. God is concerned with a religious faith or spirituality which liberates the world.  God wants us to work for what is right – things like quality affordable healthcare for all, equality for all people – men and women, living wages for all workers, an end to violence and war, care for the earth, and respect for life.

Labor Day
An essential part of putting our values in order is reflecting on our commitment to the human dignity and rights of all people and especially working people.

“This Labor Day, our country continues to struggle with a broken economy that is not producing enough decent jobs. Millions of Americans suffer from unemployment, underemployment or are living in poverty as their basic needs too often go unmet. This represents a serious economic and moral failure for our nation. As people of faith, we are called to stand with those left behind, offer our solidarity, and join forces with "the least of these" to help meet their basic needs. We seek national economic renewal that places working people and their families at the center of economic life.”

For Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

In our public life what things seem to be leading us to “evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly?”


What do you feel are some important examples of how the values of our culture or nation are ‘out of order’ or not consistent with our religious belief?


What do the values of today’s scriptures say to us as we celebrate Labor Day in the United States and reflect on the situation of workers in our country and those who are unemployed?

“Crazy Facts”

“A recent study by the Pew Research Center has confirmed what millions of Americans have realized for some time now: that the middle class has endured its worst decade since World War II. With declining home values, falling wages, and skyrocketing higher education costs, the median wealth for the middle class fell by 28 percent over the past decade, while the wealth of higher income families rose slightly. The same sad story holds true for middle class incomes, as government data now shows that we have finally managed to break the half-century-long streak that saw inflation-adjusted family income rise in every decade between 1950 and 2000, but not in the decade ending in 2010. Thanks to these and other economic trends, the overall size of the American middle class has also shrunk, down to just 51 percent of the population as compared to 61 percent of the population four decades ago.”

15% of Americans are now on food stamps.

Actions - Links

Labor Day
       Each year the USCCB (the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) issues a Labor Day statement.  This year’s theme is: Placing Work and Workers at the Center of Economic Life.”  It can be found at
       Copies of statements from previous years can be found at:
Nuns on the Bus & a conversation on the US budget
Bill Moyers on Nuns, Faith and Politics

Do You Have Five Minutes?
“That's all it will take to learn the issues and send a letter to your elected officials. The actions of our government have an enormous impact so please educate yourself and take action.”  Check out the Network “take action” page at

Prayers of Intersession

Response: God, help us to be doers of the word.
God, in a world of so many divisions, we pray for an end to all racism, prejudice, and discrimination.  We pray….
God, in a world of so much war and terrorism, we pray for peace between all nations and people.  We pray for a spirit of dialogue and understanding.  We pray….
God, in a world where many do not have access to a good education, we pray all our children will have all that they need to learn and reach their full potential as children of God.  We pray…..
God, in a world with so much income inequality, we pray for just and living wages for all workers. We pray….
God, in a nation where so many people do not have dependable access to health care, we pray that universal, affordable healthcare will be available for everyone. We pray….
God, in a world where so many people do not enjoy their basic human rights, we pray that women and men will be so free to enjoy their dignity as children of God.  We pray….
God, in a world were not everyone has employment with a decent wage, we pray for the rights and respect of workers.  We pray….
God, we pray that with your help we may all be doers of the word.  We pray….

Prayer - Meditation

Countless millions are starving, countless families are destitute, countless men are steeped in ignorance; countless people need schools, hospitals, and homes worthy of the name. In such circumstances, we cannot tolerate public and private expenditures of a wasteful nature; we cannot but condemn lavish displays of wealth by nations or individuals; we cannot approve a debilitating arms race. 
-- Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

Countless millions are starving. 
O God, teach us what to do and lead us into action.

Countless families are destitute. 
O God, give us the grace of solidarity and help us to create a new world.

Countless people are steeped in ignorance. 
O God, teach us to share our wisdom with each other.

Countless people need schools, hospitals, and homes worthy of the name. 
O God, help us create a world where people have what they need.

Countless “dollars” are wasted by nations and individuals.
O God, teach us to share what we have with one another.

Countless nations amass countless guns, bullets, planes and ships.
O God, teach us to be people of peace and justice for all.

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