The gospel is set in the context of Jesus beginning to foretell the destruction of the temple of his body, and its rebuilding in three days (John 2:19). The Lord certainly has the plan and vision for this destruction and rebuilding that is, as we hear, quite beyond the grasp of the disciples. So, I think about rebuilding and remodeling, and all of the times that God has had a vision and plan for the rebuilding and remodeling of my life that went beyond my wildest dreams. I can liken it to any rebuilding of a physical space- the comparisons are not so far off. When one is looking over the piles of dust and dry wall and knee-deep debris that are necessarily present during any reconstructive effort, maybe we can relate. Maybe we can hear the gospel being spoken in the midst of the mess we stand in…
The gospel selection today is one that proves the adage, “The Gospel is ever new.” The “newness” is not that the words we read or hear were never there before (and thus new. Rather, the “newness” is that I have changed and the gospel passage is being heard, in a sense, by a new me.
Jesus first asks his disciples a factual question, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The people who have been listening to Jesus consider him a prophetic presence like John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets. They see Jesus as a man of God and thus special like the prophets were.
PADRE PIO DA PIETRELCINA
"Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6:14).
Like the Apostle Paul, Padre Pio da Pietrelcina placed at the centre of his life and apostolic work the Cross of his Lord as his strength, his wisdom and his glory. Inflamed by love of Jesus Christ, he became like him in the sacrifice of himself for the salvation of the world. In his following and imitation of the Crucified Christ he was so generous and perfect that he could have said: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20). And the treasures of grace which God had granted him so lavishly and unceasingly he passed on through his ministry, serving the men and women who came to him in ever greater numbers, and bringing to birth an immense host of spiritual sons and daughters.
After some years of living experience in the communities of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters in the Queen of Peace Province, the four Sisters namely Sr. Anna John Tendwa, Sr. Edinesta Charles Kulungu, Sr. Martina Nicodemus Hilary and Sr. Paskalina Baha Ombay, made their final commitment on 8th September on the feast day of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, in Siuyu at Christ the King Parish the Catholic Diocese of Singida.
Ezra 9:5-9; Luke 9:1-6
As I pondered today’s readings, I was struck by contrast from the first to the last. In the first reading, there is a sense of powerlessness and guilt yet by the last reading, we read of being filled with power as the disciples are empowered to go forth and heal the world. Perhaps so telling of how we are when we truly embrace our Savior – from guilt and powerlessness to having the strength to face anything.
Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Mt 9:9-13
Imagine Matthew’s experience as today’s Gospel reading tells it. Here is he, literally minding his business, which was collecting tolls, possibly the toll paid when people transported goods, most likely fish, from the area of Galilee (Capernaum was a border town). Suddenly this man Jesus drops by. If Matthew worked out of Capernaum, he must have heard about and probably met the mysterious man from Nazareth who preached like Jeremiah and healed like Elijah. He knew that he had asked Peter, Andrew, James and John to join him. And now, though he scarcely knew him, along comes this Jesus with the simple and bold invitation, “Come, follow me.” This is most amazing. As a tax collector for the hated Roman government, most people had as little as possible to do with him, his only friends being other tax collectors and the sort of people the Pharisees labeled “sinners,” so called not because they were nasty people but because their trade or lack of learning made it unlikely that they kept the Torah properly. And yet this charismatic man of God is asking him to join him. What’s to lose? There got to be something better in this life than toll collecting. And there is something profoundly attractive about this Jesus. So he simply gets up and follows him.
In the gospel today, Jesus uses the image of light. It is a powerful image of how we are to live our faith. God gives us charisms which have the potential to bring light to the world. Jesus reminds us that we are expected to put our faith into practice and we do this by using our God-given gifts, talents and charisms. We are the igniters of our lights and they only begin to shine when we answer the call from the community and/or God. We grow and discover new gifts throughout our lifetimes.
Wisdom 2:12.17-20; Jm 3:16-18.4:1-3; Mk 9:30-37
They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise." But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me." Mk 9:30-37
“So he sat down and called the twelve around him and said, ‘If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all and THE SERVANT OF ALL.’” - Mk 9:35
“Lord Jesus, let MY life be destroyed, and Your life be MY life.” – St. Vincent Pallotti
* * * *
How wonderful it is
To be the KING,
Or some noteworthy person,
Riches, pomp and power!
But stooping to
The service of ALL,
In a spirit of charity
Appears as mere folly!
The Parable of the Seed
It is pretty heavy stuff to be told that knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to us. As I reflect on the parable of the seed, I realize that I am often the seed that falls among the thorns. I am thankful that I haven’t been robbed of the good news by the Devil and I am not tempted to abandon my roots. I hang in there with my faith, but I don’t think I bear much mature fruit. There are times when I bear the fruit of a good and generous heart, but in so many ways, I also get choked by thorns and weeds. It is a constant struggle for me to persevere. I get consumed by the anxieties of this life or the many pleasures that distract me from my anxieties. Maybe the parable speaks loudly to me today because the constant rain here in Omaha this summer has kept me pulling, cutting, clipping, and whacking away at weeds in my yard. My battles with weeds and thorns serve as a reminder of my spiritual battles. As I persevere in the war against weeds, I ask myself the question, “what does it mean to persevere in the production of mature fruit of the spirit?” In Galatians 5:22-23 we learn that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Here is a check list I made for myself to keep me focused.
1 Timothy 6:2-12; Luke 8:1-3
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources. Luke 8:1-3
Enthusiastic or Sober?
Contrasting with the sober reading from Timothy, is the tone of enthusiasm, hope and achievement in today’s Gospel story. While the Gospel has more appeal, the other text also have its necessary place in church life. Sometimes we need to be sobered up from intense excitement.
Today’s gospel provides such a dramatic and beautiful picture of God’s love for us. There are many lessons to be found in this passage.
It is easy to imagine this woman - with hair probably to her waist or longer - weeping at Jesus’ feet in sorrow for her sins. She demonstrates such humility in her actions, to use her tears and her hair to wash the dusty, dirty feet of someone who has been walking in sandals on unpaved roads and paths, through the market places and in the fields. As a nurse I think of the contrast with how we health care providers can distance ourselves from our patients with gloves and gowns and masks. Not that I am recommending that we forego these protections for ourselves and others; it is reasonable and necessary to protect against exposure to infection. But, it might be well for us to imagine this gospel scene when ministering to a patient to remind us that God resides in that individual. Then we are humbled by His presence just as the woman in the gospel was and, despite our protective gear, there can be no distancing of our hearts and minds.
Holy Cross - San Clemente, Rome (Detail of apse mosaic, 12th century)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. J 3:16
On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts. The miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the origin of the tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on this date. Constantine later built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site of her discovery of the cross. On this same pilgrimage she ordered two other churches built: one in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem.