Lectionary Reflections: Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time [b] September 6, 2015

Engaging Faith | Tue, Sep 1, 2015

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

September 6, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern


Isaiah 35:4-7a

James 2:1-5

Mark 7:31-37



September 7: Labor Day in the United States

September 8: Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September 8: International Literacy Day

September 9: Feast of St. Peter Claver

September 11: Anniversary of the Events of September 11, 2001 



We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.

-Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 52

The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner, and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone. 

-Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 32

In the Sunday Eucharist, the believing heart opens wide to embrace all aspects of the church. But ... far from trying to create a narrow "gift" mentality, St. Paul calls rather for a demanding culture of sharing, to be lived not only among the members of the community itself but in society as a whole.

-John Paul II, Dies Domini, 70

Beginning our discussion of the rights of the human person, we see that everyone has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services. …  Therefore a human being also has the right to security in cases of sickness, inability to work, widowhood, old age, unemployment, or in any other case in which one is deprived of the means of subsistence through no fault of one's own.

-John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 11

…Generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage.

-Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 48


Thoughts for your consideration

In today’s selection from the letter of James, the early community is challenged to reflect on how the rich and the poor are given different treatment in the assembly. Catholic Social Teaching invites us to reflect on that same partiality or inequality as it plays out in our times.

  • How just is the difference in salary between the top executives and the other workers in our nation?
  • How fair are the inequalities between the resources of different school districts in our country?  How fair is it to the children?
  • How just is the political influence of different groups in our city? Which neighborhoods get better services?  Which groups seem to have more power?
  • How fair is our political system when the rich can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of our elections?
  • How fair is the power of different nations at the various international gatherings?  Do all nations have fair input?  Are decisions on trade dominated and controlled by the powerful nations or the wealthy corporations to preserve their advantage?  Do the poor nations have a chance?
  • How just is the distribution of government assistance to different industries and groups of people?  How are entities that are “too big to fail” being treated? How are average families and ordinary workers being treated?
  • How fair is the way that energy resources are used by different groups in our world?  How are the effects of our carbon footprint being felt by the rich and the poor?


The readings from Isaiah and Mark talk of God’s healing power.  God looks on those most in need and desires to respond and heal.  [“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”]  Catholic Social Teaching invites us to reflect on those in our world today who are most in need of God’s healing:  those without good medical care, those suffering from food insecurity, those denied basic human rights, those who have no political rights, those who are homeless or who are refugees, those without proper employment.  

In the gospel story, Jesus says to the man who was deaf: "Ephphatha!"-- "Be opened!”  This simple command is a reminder to us also to “be opened.”  Catholic Social Teaching invites us to be open to new ways of looking at things, to taking the time to see things from the point of view of those who are poor or in need, and to meeting with and learning from those who are different than ourselves, especially if they are poor or in need.  We are called to be open to create something new and more just in our world.


For Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • Where in our world do you see or experience economic and social inequality? How are you called to work for healing?


  • Where do you observe “environmental injustice” in your community?


  • 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?



King Pyrrhus of Epirus

King Pyrrhus of Epirus was approached by his friend Cyneas and asked, "If you conquer Rome, what will you do next, sir?"

Pyrrhus replied, "Sicily is next door and will be easy to take."

"And what shall we do after Sicily is taken?"

"Then we will move over to Africa and sack Carthage."

"And after Carthage, sir?"

"The turn of Greece will come."

"And what, may I ask, will the fruit of all these conquests be?"

"Then," said Pyrrhus, "we can sit down and enjoy ourselves."

"Can we not," said Cyneas, "enjoy ourselves now?"

By Anthony DeMello, S.J. (


“Crazy Facts”

  • In July, the US unemployment rate was 5.3% or 8.3 million people.
  • Another 6.3 million workers worked part time even though they desire full time employment.



Actions - Links

Labor Day

  • Each year the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issues a Labor Day statement.  Copies of statements from previous years can be found at:


  • “Farmworker Justice is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety, and access to justice.” Learn more about their work here:

9/11 Remembrance

  • As we again approach the anniversary of September 11, 2001, we may want to reflect on our efforts to bring a peaceful and nonviolent vision to our world.  You might want to look at the sight of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows at:

Catholic Relief Services Action Center

  • CRS encourages us to advocate in support of people in need throughout the world and confront global poverty.  Check out their center at:


Prayers of Intersession

Response: Loving God, heal our divisions and make us one.

For those without employment, we pray….

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

For women who are still denied full equality and justice in our world, we pray….

For children who still do not have access to a quality education, we pray….

For all groups of people who are still denied their say in the political life of their land, we pray….

For our nation as we continue the process of electing new leaders, we pray….

For all nations which are still divided by the agony of war and other forms of violence, we pray….

For all the families who still feel the pain of loss after the events of September 11, we pray….

For all who are struggling for an end to war and terrorism and a new justice and peace for all, we pray….


Prayer - Meditation

A Prayer for the World

Let the rain come and wash away

the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds

held and nurtured over generations.

Let the rain wash away the memory

of the hurt, the neglect.

Then let the sun come out and

fill the sky with rainbows.

Let the warmth of the sun heal us

wherever we are broken.

Let it burn away the fog so that

we can see each other clearly.

So that we can see beyond labels,

beyond accents, gender or skin color.

Let the warmth and brightness

of the sun melt our selfishness.

So that we can share the joys and

feel the sorrows of our neighbors.

And let the light of the sun

be so strong that we will see all

people as our neighbors.

Let the earth, nourished by rain,

bring forth flowers

to surround us with beauty.

And let the mountains teach our hearts

to reach upward to heaven.


—Rabbi Harold S. Kushner (Author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People)