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Contents: Volume 2 - The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 21, 2018


 

The 29th

Sunday

Ordinary

Time

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Sun. 29 B

It is clear from our readings that becoming a "servant" is what is expected of authentic Christians who truly follow Jesus. I think that this term is an easy one to dismiss in our time and, along with it, therefore, Jesus's message as well. I think it is important to understand clearly what it was NOT meant to be in order for anyone to be able to put it in the columns of "I should do that" and "I can do that" and "I will do that."

In my opinion, I do not think it was intended to have any connotation of becoming someone's property or be a synonym for slave. I do not think it has any connection to being pressed into service unwillingly or being taken advantage of. I do not think it demands that anyone do anything "wrong" or personally belittling such as what happens in human trafficking. All that said, what does Jesus mean?

Jesus was the model of being the right kind of servant. He served the Father by doing the Father's will. He always cared for others, clearly demonstrating that many times over and over again. The example from Scripture that we probably know best is Jesus washing the feet of the apostles. Jesus put others before himself.

Where in our lives can we follow Jesus's example? People do it all the time with their family or religious community members, but are the things we do for those in that circumstance done lovingly or grudgingly? How about church workers or government leaders? Is there a vision of servant leadership where those served have a voice in decisions or just made by those in authority? In our daily interactions with others, be they friends or strangers, whose needs come first?

Our random acts of kindness need to be expanded to consistent acts of kindness. We are indeed all brothers and sisters and have been called to be "sacrament" to each other. What that means to me is helping each other realize the bounty of God's goodness and walking beside each other on the journey to heaven.

Sounds good, but it is not easy. "Should" needs to move closer to "can" then finally "will", slowly but consistently, one interaction at a time. Only then will we be able to say truthfully "I am a servant".

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Ninth Sunday of Ordered Time October 24 2018

Isaiah 53:10-11; Responsorial Psalm 33; Letter to the Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

The first reading from Isaiah is about a hoped for leader who will help the nation get past its troubles then experienced. All but the very ignorant and the very, very poor were taken into the city of Babylon. They became the slaves and workers and craftsmen and entertainment for their conquerors. It was not a pleasant existence. They had no gain from their labors as the achievements of their labors belonged to their masters. Their lives were controlled as to their comings and goings. They were persecuted if and when they practiced their faith in Yahweh, the God. It seemed to many that the God who freed their nation from Egyptian servitude centuries earlier had abandoned them.

The Jews in captivity dreamed of a leader who would be handsome, well-spoken, strong, intelligent, and powerful. That was their belief; that was their hope. However, when Isaiah speaks to them about this messiah he presents a frightening and confusing image of this man. According to Isaiah this hoped for leader would be a servant to the nation. This leader would bear the marks and indignities heaped on the Jews in captivity. This savior would save by becoming one of them. Only in this way of ignominy and shame would this person justify many. This justification means that a person, and through a collection of persons, a nation would be brought into right relationship with the Lord God.

What caused the covenantal relationship with God to have been broken? What was the sin(s) that rejected the saving power of God? Despite the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, and many other prophets, the nation thought to protect itself by treaties with the great powers of their time. They struggled to choose for their ally Assyrians, Egyptians, or Babylonians. Treaties with any one of those empires required Judah to set aside Yahweh in favor of the gods of the nation protectors. In this way, the temple was desecrated and turned over to gods made of clay and stone and silver and gold. These were no living gods but gods who served the whim of tyrants and vicious conquerors. The Law of Moses was set aside in favor of the economic and social structures of the protectors. The poor and laborers would be abused in those cultures and considered only chattel and expendable assets. Widows, orphans, and old people were looked upon as a drain on the assets of the empire and left to die in misery. In the end, Judah was conquered by the Babylon. A Babylonian governor was placed in charge in Jerusalem. A group of Jews favoring Egypt over Babylon assassinated the Babylonian governor. The emperor of Babylon responded by destroying Jerusalem and leveling the temple of Solomon. He took all the talented, educated, and successful industrialists into Babylon to work in slavery toward building up his power and wealth. This is the background to Isaiah’s prophecy in this second book of Isaiah. The corruption rampant among the Jews robbed them of their faith in Yahweh and they lost their hope in the Living God.

We should listen closely to Isaiah. We’ll notice that this suffering servant took on the suffering of the people. This servant suffered as did the enslaved. His affliction was that he took on the suffering all around him. He became one with the people even though called by God to release the people from the sin that caused them to become captives. The people suffered because they failed to live in right relationship with God and with their fellow Jews. As the Jews endured their Babylonian captivity they became aware of the fault that resulted in the loss of beautiful Jerusalem and the destruction of the magnificent towering temple build by Solomon. They were guilty of the losses that caused their tears, their terror, and their burden of guilt. The suffering-servant took on that guilt. He was portrayed as one of the captives. He chose not to stand above and beyond the captivity endured by the nation. He lived in solidarity with his people. The servant suffers in solidarity with the people.

Often we look upon the Crucifix and admire how strong Jesus was to have endured willingly such a terrible death. We look on his torn and broken body and think that because he is not only man but also God, he was able to endure this death and the physical pain. If we set Jesus high on a pedestal and think of him as other than ourselves we overlook the essential part of our faith. Jesus became one with us. His living, his ministry, his miracles, and clearly his passion and death is a down-to-earth sharing in solidarity with our own lives. He is one of us. This is essential to our faith that God is with us --- even now!

As we hear the gospel proclaimed this Sunday we may laugh as we think of the pride of

Andrew and John. They wanted to share in the glory of power, wealth, and fame that would come with being at the right and left hand of Jesus in his Kingdom. We can imagine how angry and frustrated Peter must have been. After all he was Peter, the Rock on which the Lord would build his church. And the other apostles must also have been angry at the audacity of Andrew and John.

Mark tells this story so that we might know that even the Apostles didn’t get the impact of Isaiah’s prophecy. They didn’t understand that Jesus was in total solidarity with all humanity even to the experience of death. Jesus conquers death by willingly accepting it strengthened by faith in the Living God.

The world is not populated with kind, compassionate, truthful, honest, and caring leaders. Most leaders turn to servicing themselves. When they turn to self-interest their actions reek of corruption and self-centered idolatry. When leaders become arrogant elites terrible things happen. Clericalism is a terrible example. Because some clerics thought themselves ordained above ordinary persons they became abusers of children. Civil leaders often turn their service into a flow of wealth for themselves, their families, and supporters. Tax policy favors those in power, increasing their wealth, and creating a widening chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Yet in their devious and merciless arrogance they spin the impact of changes in tax laws as a benefit to the laborer whose efforts create wealth. When leadership – ecclesial, civil, political, or business – loses its solidarity with the people bad things always happen. The poor at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder suffer most.

There is much written and shouted regarding abortion. Politicians take sides on the issue as a dividing point which they believe gets them elected. Taking any life is not only tragic but a thing that is repugnant to all the living. Using abortion to solicit votes robs the issue of its importance. It becomes a point of division. The astonishing wonder that is the gift of life is lost in the ensuing combat. Is the death of a child from starvation any less a sin and a horror than the death of a fetus? Is the death of an elderly person because there is no health care access any less a sin than the death of a child from starvation? Is the death of a child fleeing war and unabated violence any less a blot on human history than the death of an old person lacking health care access? Is the death of the spirit of any human because of lack of meaningful work any less a tragedy than the death of an old person? The Way of the World is to steal what is important and make it a marketing ploy to acquire things. What we forget is that Jesus is in solidarity with the fetus, with the child, with the old person, with those affected by war and violence, and with every human struggling to survive. Jesus takes on their suffering and is one with those persons.

Some will think this is too political and out of place in a reflection on the Word of God. We forget that the Word, the Son of God became human to share in the pain and suffering that thrives in the world. We forget that Jesus lived and lives in solidarity with all of creation. We cannot limit the presence of the Christ to the confines of a golden box elevated above the altar. We cannot forget the Christ in our daily schedule. Just an hour a week thinking about God doesn’t change our lives or the lives of all that lives. We cannot celebrate the great mysteries of the Word of God and of the Eucharist and forget what we have witnessed as we exit the doors of the church. We cannot re-enter the world unchanged, unconcerned, lacking in God’s compassion and mercy when he came and comes to us where we are.

The Incarnate Son of God was put to death because "it is better that one man die than that a nation should perish." That formula is a charade, a slight of hand meant to mislead and fool an audience. The Incarnate Son of God is one of us, was born like us, grew up like us. He worked with his hands to make a living just like us. He had friends and family. His mission was to create and restore a right relationship between humanity and God. His choice was to model a right relationship among mankind and mankind with creation. His compassion and mercy established a Way in which each person might be in peace with his/herself. His work was to remove the heavy burden of guilt of failure and sin. He speaks to wealthy and powerful. He speaks to little children. He reaches out to the violently ill. He embraces those whose appearance is revolting. He frees those burdened with addictions. He sees all persons as equals: men and women: children and adults: foreigners and citizens. He understands life as an incomparable gift and enhances it and gives it meaning and purpose. For this he suffers the direst of consequences in solidarity with each of his people.

Our Father God approved of his life and rejoices in his solidarity with the suffering, the lost, the commoner, and even the king. Through Jesus, God experiences what the least of humanity endures and what all humanity and creation endures. He demonstrates how much solidarity with his creation means to God. This solidarity is solidarity to death, even to death on a cross.

The Father approved and continues to approve the work of His Son. Jesus was raised from a grave and became the first-born of a new creation. "Lord let your mercy be upon us as we place our trust in you."

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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OUR SHARED CALLING FROM GOD: 29TH SUNDAY B

In our gospel today Jesus reminds us that he ‘did not come to be served but to serve’, and to give his life for the wellbeing of others (Mk 10:45). As for Jesus, so for us! Has he not said of us: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you’ (Jn 20:21)? Today, Mission Sunday, let me speak to you about being his ministers and missionaries, ministers and missionaries of God’s goodness and love. That’s our vocation, our calling from God, our shared calling.

The word ‘ministry’ simply means ‘service’. Any service, any outreach, given to other people in need may be called a ministry. The service of others flows, in the first place, from our common humanity. For example, Steve Irwin, known far and wide as ‘the Crocodile Hunter’, worked energetically all his life for the conservation of the environment and for the preservation of many species of animal life. Any true service that anyone does, whether they are aware of this or not, is working for that better world that Jesus called ‘the coming of the kingdom of God’.

For us Christians, our service of others also flows from our connection with Jesus Christ and from his gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers us to go out and tell everyone everywhere, by word, deed, and example, the good news of the limitless love shown us by Jesus Christ. So being a minister and missionary of God’s love means loving others in all the ways that Jesus loved people.

A glance through the gospels gives us glimpse after glimpse of the many different ways in which Jesus loved and served others. He treated everyone with truthfulness, love and justice; he prayed; he felt for people who were in pain; he healed and liberated many; he rejoiced and celebrated with those who were glad. He reached out most of all to those who were the ‘little ones’ of Jewish society - the poor, the sick, the social outcasts, and those, such as women, who were treated cruelly and unjustly. He befriended sinners so much that the Pharisees complained to his disciples: ‘Why is it that your Master eats with tax collectors and sinners?’ (Mk 2:16; Lk 6:30).

So Christians, like Jesus, serve others by proclaiming the truth of God and the laws of God, by praying, giving good example, acting to defend human rights, and being fair, kind, compassionate, caring and forgiving towards others. His teaching and example have left us a marvellous pattern to follow.

Vatican II was the first church council ever, to treat the meaning of mission and ministry in a systematic way. It taught that the whole church is missionary, and that to be a Christian is to be a missionary. It taught that all baptised people share in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ and are responsible for carrying out the mission of the Church in the world. It emphasized humble service rather than status, honours, robes, titles and privileges. It said that as Christians all members of the church are equal.

Since the Council there has been nothing less than an explosion of lay ministries and activities of every kind - to sick, disabled and dying people; to bereaved families; to dysfunctional families; to youth; to migrants and refugees; to battered wives, and to other people in need of counselling, therapy, and protection. Lay persons function as pastoral associates, teachers, principals, parish councillors, catechists, readers, ministers of communion, musicians and singers, prayer leaders, artists, and architects. There are nurses, doctors, and other health workers, who view their services as Christian ministries.

Some lay persons are campus ministers, social workers, prison visitors, day care workers, and foster parents. Some contribute their love and skills in the rehabilitation of alcoholics and drug addicts. Some work in marriage tribunals and marriage counselling, some as experts in church law, givers of retreats, and spiritual directors, and still others in the areas of social justice, ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue and co-operation. In some places lay people have become, equivalently, the pastors of parishes. Night and day mothers and fathers of families everywhere lay down their lives for their children.

The explosion of such lay ministries is a fulfilment in our time of what St Paul said about his: ‘To each person is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good’ (1 Cor 12:7).

That, briefly, is what I mean by being a minister and a missionary, a vocation to which we are all called both by our humanity and by our baptism. Today, Mission Sunday, therefore, let us renew our firm sincere commitment to live as disciples of Jesus and missionaries of his love in our broken and needy world!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


 

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