Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Engaging Faith | Tue, Aug 26, 2008

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

August 31, 2008


     Jeremiah 20:7-9

     Romans 12:1-2

     Matthew 16:21-27


August 31: (at sundown) start of Ramadan (Muslim Holy Month)

September 1: Labor Day in the United States and Labour Day in Canada


There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing, ... the right to education, and work...

Vatican II, The Church and the Modern World, #26

Every citizen also has the responsibility to work to secure justice and human rights through an organized social response.

US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #120

It is no less mistaken to think that we may immerse ourselves in earthly activities as if these latter were utterly foreign to religion, and religion were nothing more than the fulfillment of acts of worship and the observance of a few moral obligations. One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and their day-to-day conduct. As far back as the Old Testament the prophets vehemently denounced this scandal, and in the New Testament Christ himself even more forcibly threatened it with severe punishment. Let there, then, be no such pernicious opposition between professional and social activity on the one hand and religious life on the other. Christians who shirk their temporal duties shirk their duties towards his neighbor, neglect God himself, and endanger their eternal salvation.

Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World, #43

The "spirit of the world" offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness. There is perhaps no darkness deeper than the darkness that enters young people's souls when false prophets extinguish in them the light of faith and hope and love. The greatest deception, and the deepest  source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.

John Paul II, Toronto, Canada, WYD 2002

Thoughts for your consideration

The prophet Jeremiah tries to be faithful to God's message and then discovers that everyone mocks him.  However, despite the difficulty, divine strength comes to Jeremiah and he continues to speak God's word even at great personal cost. 

Jesus anticipates the opposition that he will face in Jerusalem from the various authorities.  The disciples discourage him from going forward.  However, Jesus dismisses their opposition.  Jesus is not afraid of speaking truth to power.  Jesus goes forth on his mission.

Doesn't the word of God and the social teaching of the church call us today to the same thing?  Are we not called to open our eyes to the concerns of those who are in need in our world and those who have no voice? Are we not called to speak up for what is just and right in our world?  Are we not called to be faithful to what we believe even when we foresee opposition?

In Catholic Social Teaching we hear a call to speak up for the rights of workers, for justice for the poor, for a revolution in the values of our consumer society, for leaders whose first concern is the common good,  for an end to war and violence, and for the dignity of all human persons.

The power of our culture and the power of our institutions may oppose the message that we try to share.  We may become afraid or confused.  We may experience opposition and persecution. However, Jesus was not afraid of speaking truth to power.  Jesus says: "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you been called to speak up for justice in the face of opposition? 

What happened?  Where did you get the strength to speak up?

Actions - Links

The 2008 Labor Day Statement, by Most Rev. William F. Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre, and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, can be found at  It "calls attention to the needs of the nation's workers, current economic inequalities, and the responsibilities of all citizens to help improve conditions. Bishop Murphy draws inspiration in his message from the late Msgr. George Higgins, the "labor priest," who worked for more than fifty years on behalf of workers' rights, and was an outspoken and strong bridge between the Catholic Church in the United States and the labor movement."

"Crazy Facts"

The United States Department of Labor reports that "Year-to-date layoff figures in 2008 were the highest January-July totals since 2003."   They go on to report that "... in July, employers took 1,512 mass layoff actions, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month.  ...  Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer; the number of workers involved totaled 151,171, on a seasonally adjusted basis."

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, help us to work for justice for all your people.

For all workers, especially those who are not paid a living wage, we pray....

For all who are unemployed or underemployed, we pray....

For all who are no longer able to own their own home, we pray....

For those without access to quality medical care for themselves and their families, we pray....

For those who cannot provide their children with a quality education, we pray....


Come Holy Spirit. Come! Fill the hearts of your people.

Come Holy Spirit that we may be aware:

  • -aware of the people around us, especially the poor and oppressed
  • -aware of the children, the young people, all the people striving to grow into their dignity as children of God
  • -aware of the world around us, especially the environment with its plants and animals, with its land and water, with its air and space, with all its mystery
  • -aware of the structures of power, especially those that keep people poor or powerless or confused or unfree
  • -aware of the violence and the threats of violence, which are not the way of Jesus
  • -aware of our selves and our bias and stereotypes and all our unfreedom
  • -aware of all the possibilities for freedom and joy and life.

Come Holy Spirit. Come! Fill the hearts of your people.

Give us the freedom to see.

Give us the wisdom and courage to speak.


Worker Justice Litany

By Rev. Rebekah Jordan, United Methodist Deacon and former intern at the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. From Labor in the Pulpits 2002, Interfaith Resources for Labor Day Services.

One: Let us gather as members of one body before one God.

All: By one Spirit we were baptized into the body of Christ.

One: As one body, we share common hurts, common joys, and a common labor. When poultry workers dignity is abused on the job,

All: We all suffer with them.

One: When a group of janitors finally get health care after months of struggle,

All: We all rejoice with them.

One: When health care workers are fired for trying to organize a union,

All: We all suffer with them.

One: When managers find the courage to call for change in their companies,

All: We all rejoice with them.

One: We are members of one another in the body of Christ. Let us celebrate our baptism in our worship and our living.

All: Thanks be to God!