Lectionary Reflections: Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time [b] September 20, 2015

Engaging Faith | Mon, Sep 14, 2015

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

September 20, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern


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 21: International Day of Peace

September 22: Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement) begins at sunset

September 23: First Day of Autumn 

September 26: International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons  

September 27: Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, the "Great Apostle of Charity"



War is the mother of all poverty, a vast predator of lives and souls.

-Pope Francis @Pontifex Sep 4, 2015

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, 23

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, 33

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, 37

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, 45

The deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet.

-Pope Francis @Pontifex, June 18, 2015


Thoughts for Your Consideration

September 21 was the annual International Day of Peace.  Today’s selection from the Letter of James 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 Syria, a brutal, violent war continues.
  • In Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other places in the Middle East, fighting and violence continues.  People are terrorized by bombs, kidnappings, rapes, suicide bombings, drones, and so many other things.
  • In recent months there have been many dramatic cases of gun violence in the United States (at a church in Charleston, at the Chattanooga military facilities, at a Louisiana movie theater).
  • 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.
  • In the United States, gun violence is “a public health problem.”

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 experience 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 reflect on the opposition to raising the minimum wage and paying people a living wage.

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?



The Real Meaning of Peace

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

Author Unknown (


“Crazy Facts”

Gun Violence in 2015 through September 10, 2015

  • Total Number of Incidents: 36,166
  • Total Number of Deaths: 9,032
  • Total Number of Injuries: 18,530


Military Expenses

  • 27 cents of every dollar in federal taxes in 2014 paid for military expenses.


Refugee Crisis in Europe

  • “The little boy who washed up on a Turkish beach was one of 13 million kids the UN says isn’t going to school because of war—and overwhelming Europe’s thin refugee resources.”


  • From Syria, there are nearly 4 million refugees in five host countries and 7.6 million internally displaced people.


  • “The situation in Europe is only a smaller piece of the overall crisis. Countries in the Middle East that border Syria or Iraq, where conflict has displaced millions over several years, have accepted many more refugees than Europe. Asylum seekers in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are expected to increase by almost a million in 2015, reaching 4.7 million by December.”



Actions - Links

War on Want: 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 Project: Transparent Federal Budget

  • “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

JRS: Refugees From and Within Syria

  • The Jesuit Refugee Service is one of many groups that are working with refugees from the conflict in and around Syria.  You can join them in advocating for policies to end the suffering 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.