Lectionary Reflections: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a] September 28, 2014

Engaging Faith | Tue, Sep 23, 2014

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

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a] September 28, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Ezekiel 18:25-28

Philippians 2:1-11 or 2:1-5

Matthew 21:28-32



September 25-26: Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year

September 27: Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Patron of Charitable Societies

October 1: International Day of Older Persons 

October 2: International Day of Non-Violence, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi,

October 3-4: Yom Kippur, Jewish Day of Atonement

October 4: Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

October 5-19: Synod on the Family



Every citizen also has the responsibility to work to secure justice and human rights through an organized social response. In the words of Pius XI, "Charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into account ... Let no one attempt with small gifts of charity to exempt himself from the great duties imposed by justice.” The guaranteeing of basic justice for all is not an optional expression of largesse but an inescapable duty for the whole of society. 

Economic Justice for All (#120)


The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.

- Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium, 2


If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good. 

- Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium, 9


Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend the rights of those who have nothing. Speak up and judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy." 

- Proverbs 31:8-9


No one may claim the name of Christian and be comfortable in the face of hunger, homelessness, insecurity, and injustice found in this country and the world.

- US Bishops, Economic Justice for All. 27


The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.

- Pope John Paul II


Thoughts for your consideration

(1) Like the second son in the gospel story, it is sometimes easy to pay lip service to the values of Catholic Social Teaching. The more challenging thing is to put those values into practice in our complex world with all its problems and history. [It is easy to put out public relations statements of concern. It is more of a challenge to do something.]  It can be a challenge to take a stand.

(2) Catholic Social Teaching assumes that religion has something to do with life and the way we behave. Good religion is not an escape from the world and its problems. This is the message of the gospel today and the message of the first reading. Religion that is put into practice is religion that leads to life rather than death. Our behavior makes a difference. Catholic Christians are concerned with more than doctrine or ritual or piety.  They are concerned with ethical values, the common good, social structures, social sin, injustice, war and peace, institutions that promote peace and justice, and all these sorts of things.

(3) Catholic Social Teaching invites us to act in the same spirit that animated Jesus. [At the same time, ethics is more than a simple WWJD. The ethical world is more complicated than a simple slogan. However, that does not mean than Jesus has nothing to say to us and our behavior.] Today Paul writes: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.” In short Jesus acted in solidarity with others. We are invited to do the same. We are invited to do so, even when it involves risk, as it did for Jesus. Jesus was free enough to let go of life. The spirit of Jesus is one of liberation.

(4) Change is possible. The second son changed his no to a yes. In a world of social sin, economic injustice, corrupted values, and all kinds of war and violence, it is possible for us to move in another direction. It is possible to work for change and the common good.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • In the language of the second reading, when have you (or someone you knew) acted with the same attitude as Christ?  


  • How have you and your local community been affected by the “great recession” over the last six years?  
  • How have you experienced “income inequality” which has been increasing over the last few decades?
  • What are your worries and fears?
  • How have economic events changed your way of looking at things in America?  
  • Has it inspired you to do something different?



From the late Anthony DeMello, S.J.

First, realize that you are surrounded by prison walls, that your mind has gone to sleep. It does not even occur to most people to see this, so they live and die as prison inmates.

Most people end up being conformists; they adapt to prison life. A few become reformers; they fight for better living conditions in the prison, better lighting, better ventilation.

Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls. You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place. 


Actions - Links

Peace and Justice in Asia

“Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples is an independent organization based in Hong Kong with an Asian focus. It was founded in 1979 when groups and individuals of the Church committed to Justice and Peace work in Hong Kong saw beyond the needs of the Territory and realized the urgency of an Asian-level involvement. They were inspired by Pope Paul VI's Encyclical letter "Progress of Peoples" (Populorum Progresso, 1967).”  Hotline Asia Urgent Appeals are requests for international solidarity and letter writing.


Catholic Climate Covenant

 “You can make a difference! Tell your elected officials to support shrinking our carbon footprint”

Get materials for the feast of St. Francis (October 4) at:


International Day of Non-Violence 

“The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.” 


“Crazy Facts”

From NASA at 

  • Sea level rise: Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
  • Global temperature rise: All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.
  • Warming oceans: The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.8
  • Shrinking ice sheets: The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.


Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, help us to live the good news of Jesus.

We pray for those who unemployed or underemployed.

We pray for those without health insurance and good medical care.

We pray for those cannot pay their basic living expenses.

We pray for those who are homeless or at risk for losing their homes.

We pray for those who are afraid of economic problems.

We pray for those who are well off.

We pray for immigrants and refugees.

We pray for those who are unaware of the needs of others.

We pray for our planet and the environmental issues that threaten its wellbeing. 

We pray that we may all focus on the common good.


Prayer - Meditation

A Prayer for Compassion, from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ

Oh God, I wish from now on

To be the first to become conscious 

Of all that the world loves, pursues, and suffers;


I want to be the first to seek,

To sympathize and to suffer;

The first to unfold and sacrifice myself,


To become more widely human

And more nobly of the earth

Than any of the world’s servants.


Prayer for a World Renewed

By: Education for Justice

O God, our creator and sustainer,

we pray to you:

We want to celebrate life.


We cry out against all that kills life:

hunger, poverty, unemployment, sickness, debt, repression, individualism,

abuse of the earth, injustice,

and all other forms of slavery.


We want to announce fullness of life:

work, education, health, housing,

safe environment, bread for all.


We want communion, solidarity,

a world renewed.

We hope against hope.

With the God of history,

We want to make things new again.