Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

Engaging Faith | Thu, Sep 20, 2012

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

Lectionary reflections for the twenty-fifth Sunday in ordinary time - 23 September 2012.

Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

September 23, 2012


Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
James 3:16--4:3
Mark 9:30-37


September 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month begins. (ends October 15)
September 22: First Day of Autumn
September 26: Yom Kippur. Jewish Day of Atonement
September 27: Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, "Great Apostle of Charity".


May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes, and war in international ones.  …  It is to be hoped that hatred and violence will not triumph in people's hearts, especially among those who are struggling for justice, and that all people will grow in the spirit of peace and forgiveness.
-- John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

In spite of the great changes which have taken place in the more advanced societies, the human inadequacies of capitalism and the resulting domination of things over people are far from disappearing. In fact, for the poor, to the lack of material goods has been added a lack of knowledge and training which prevents them from escaping their state of humiliating subjection.
-- John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way.
-- John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

Today no one can be unaware of the fact that on some continents countless men and women are ravished by hunger and countless children are undernourished. Many children die at an early age; many more of them find their physical and mental growth retarded.  …  The moment for action has reached a critical juncture. Can countless innocent children be saved? Can countless destitute families obtain more human living conditions? Can world peace and human civilization be preserved intact?
-- Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

In the face of the present-day situation of the world, marked as it is by the grave sin of injustice, we recognize both our responsibility and our inability to overcome it by our own strength. Such a situation urges us to listen with a humble and open heart to the word of God, as God shows us new paths towards action in the cause of justice in the world.  
-- 1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World

Thoughts for your consideration

Today’s selection from the Letter of James writes powerfully calls to reflect on issues of war, violence and peace.
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.

* In recent weeks sometimes violent protests have broken out in the Muslim nations of the Middle East.  US officials and many others have been killed. 
* In Syria, a brutal, violent war continues.
* In recent months there have been many cases of gun violence, most notably the shooting in the movie theater in Colorado. 
* In Chicago there have been over 250 murders in the first half of the year, a 38 percent increase over last year’s figure. The murder rate is “higher than São Paulo’s, more than twice that of Mexico City, and more than three times that of New York.” (National Review)
* For over ten years the United States and other nations have been bogged down in fighting in the Afghanistan.
* It is hard to keep track of all the wars and conflicts between groups and nations.
* Nations, especially the United States, devote all kinds of resources to their military. 
* Domestic and family violence continue to show up in our homes and communities.

It is very fitting today to reflect on the letter to James and what is said about war and peace. James talks about our passions and desires and how they lead to war and violence.  James reminds us: “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”  In today’s gospel Jesus brings up with the disciples the issues that arise from striving to be the “greatest.”  


We know from experiences that as people speak up for justice and peace – against war and for those in need – against injustice - that they may encounter opposition and persecution.  The first reading from Wisdom reminds us of this as does today’s prophecy from Jesus.  We should not be surprised that we face challenges and opposition as we try to live out our Christian values. We might reflect on the power of large corporations and their lobbyists in our political system.  We might reflect on the way we distribute the tax burden to people of different economic groups. We might reflect on the opposition to health care reform or care for the poor in the United States.  We might want to reflect on the difficulty experienced by those who oppose war and advocate active nonviolence.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

In the letter of James, we read “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?”
What are the desires that cause you to get into disputes with others? 
What are the desires that cause the nations of our world to get into disputes with other nations?


A short story about justice, life & desire by Amir Saleem - 'All Thinking Men'

“Crazy Facts”

In the United States:
    Every second and a half during the school year a public school student receives an out-of-school suspension.*
    Every 8 seconds during the school year a public high school student drops out.*
    Every 17 seconds a child is arrested.
    Every 19 seconds a baby is born to an unmarried mother.
    Every 29 seconds a baby is born into poverty.
    Every 30 seconds during the school year a public school student is corporally punished.*
    Every 47 seconds a child is abused or neglected.
    Every 67 seconds a baby is born without health insurance.
    Every 85 seconds a baby is born to a teen mother.
    Every 2 minutes a baby is born at low birthweight.
    Every 3 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.
    Every 6 minutes a child is arrested for a violent offense.
    Every 21 minutes a baby dies before his or her first birthday.
    Every hour and a half a child or teen dies from an accident.
    Every 3 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm.
    Every 5-and-a-half hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect.
    Every 8 hours a child or teen commits suicide.
    Every 10 hours a baby's mother dies due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth.
From the Children’s Defense Fund at

27 cents of every dollar in federal taxes pays for military expenses.

Actions - Links

Global Poverty and Injustice
“War on Want fights poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalization. We campaign for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice.”  Learn more and take action at

National Priorities
“National Priorities Project is a national non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making complex federal budget information transparent and accessible so people can prioritize and influence how their tax dollars are spent.”  Learn more and take action at

Children and Poverty in the United States
Learn about children and poverty from the Children’s Defense Fund at: 
Learn about the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths Celebration at

Prayers of Intersession

Response: God of peace and justice, help us to do what is right and good.
For all the people of our world who are suffering poverty, we pray….
For all the children of our world, especially those who lack the basic necessities to grow up as joyful children of God, we pray….
For all the children of our world, especially those who suffer in the midst of our many wars, we pray….
For all the people of the world, who are suffering in places torn apart by war and other forms of violence, we pray….
For all the people and groups in our world we see violence, terrorism, and war as the only way to justice, we pray….
For all those men and women who experience opposition and persecution as they strive to create a world of justice and peace for all, we pray….
For all our leaders, that they may help us let go of personal and collective selfishness, jealousy and ambition, so that we can work together for a better world, we pray…..

Prayer - Meditation
Prayer for Peace from Pope John Paul II

Great and merciful God,
Lord of peace and life,
You have plans for peace, and not affliction.
You condemn wars
and defeat the pride of the violent.

You sent your Son Jesus
to preach peace to those near and far,
to gather people of every race
and nation into a single family.
Hear the single-hearted cry of all humanity:
no more war, a spiral of death and violence,
a threat against all your creatures
in heaven on the earth and in the sea.

In communion with Mary, the Mother of Jesus
once again we implore you:
Speak to the hearts of those responsible
for the fate of peoples,
stop the `logic' of revenge and retaliation,
with your Spirit suggest new solutions,
generous and honorable gestures,
room for dialogue and patient waiting
which are more fruitful than
the hurried deadlines of war.

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