Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 20
Mark 9: 30-37
In the Gospel chosen to be read on this Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus continues to teach the Disciples (and all of us) what it truly means to be a disciple. He has just finished telling them and us of his upcoming passion, death and resurrection: “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” Then the Scriptures tell us: “But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.”
They were afraid to question him, probably because they didn’t want to listen to talk about suffering and dying, as we will see later on in the Gospel of Luke. They had other things they would rather talk about such as “who was the greatest among them.” They evidently knew they should have been listening to Jesus rather than carry on their own conversation because when he questioned them about what they were talking about, they preferred to remain silent.
Then today’s Gospel tells us Jesus “called the Twelve” and he began to teach them: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” On other occasions when Jesus brought the Twelve together, he had taught them to go forth and preach and drive out the various demons. Another time he told them to travel lightly; to take with them no silver or gold, no shoes, only one tunic and a walking stick. Now he informs them that their being truly great consists in serving others. Gradually Jesus was telling them and us what he desires to be present in a disciple.
Let us reflect today on how we serve other people in our way of life. What do I do to serve them? If the finished list looks a bit short, and it probably will for all of us, maybe we still have a ways to go in the serving area of our lives. I have remarked often in these homilies how all of us started out life in the selfish mode. Eventually all of us have to overcome this trait and learn to put the service of others before our own needs. My life is not all about me, but it is all about others, namely God and my Neighbor. Jesus is the prime example of all of this. He served the Father and each of us all the way to the cross.
Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Sept. 21
Feast of St. Matthew
Today, September 21, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Matthew, listed as one of the Twelve Apostles and the author of the first Gospel in the order given in the Bible. We know from Sacred Scripture that he was a son of Alphaeus and that he was a tax collector in Capernaum, a vibrant little fishing town on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. In Mark’s and Luke’s Gospels, Matthew is called by the name of Levi.
Matthew’s Gospel was written both for believers and unbelievers. For the former, it was an encouragement to persevere in following Christ and not to fall back in Judaism. For the latter, it was written to convince them that Jesus was truly the Messiah. His Gospel was written in Aramaic probably between the years 42 and 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed. Matthew’s apostolic activity began in Palestine and there is a later tradition that he went to Persia. It is also uncertain whether he died a natural death or was martyred. We are all indebted to him for his beautiful Gospel.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
Tuesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Sept. 22
Luke 8: 19-21
In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us again that as human beings we are both physical and spiritual people and he also lets us know that the most important relationship with him is not the physical but the spiritual. He wants us to be constantly aware that we are a spiritual people and that we are to grow in this area just as we do physically. And he tells us that the way we grow spiritually is by listening to his word and putting it into practice.
Once again, as we have said many times before, head trips are not worth a whole lot. We are not to just hear his word but to understand it and put it into practice in our daily lives. Today let us all ask ourselves if our spiritual relationship with Jesus is what it really should be. Where and how can I make it better?
Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Sept. 23
Luke 9: 1-6
Once again, today’s Gospel shows us our dual makeup of soul and body and further informs us that we should not ignore either. Someone once noted: We cannot love our neighbor on an empty stomach. We must pay attention to both body and soul. Obviously, the one depends on the other. This is why Jesus told his disciples how to travel and where to find food for their sustenance as they preached his message. They were also told to heal peoples’ physical ailments so they can get their minds off of these things and think about spiritual things too.
Today let us ask ourselves if there are any physical ailments I am not really taking care of that are causing me to ignore my spiritual side with its duties and obligations.
Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Sept. 24
Luke 9: 7-9
“Who is this about whom I hear such things?”
Herod kept hearing marvelous things about the person Jesus. The deaf were hearing, the lame walked, and the blind could see again. Who was it that caused these marvelous things to happen? Some were saying that it was John the Baptist, risen from the dead, or Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets who was responsible. Herod had already put John to death at his infamous birthday party. Now he feared whoever it was because along with the marvelous deeds they were performing they were drawing large crowds and leaders feared large crowds.
The Gospel doesn’t tell us whether or not Herod’s curiosity was satisfied. And people are still asking the same question he asked today: Who is it that does these marvelous things in our lives? Who is it who causes the blind to see, the lame to walk and the deaf to hear? Our faith tells us the answers to these questions. Let us go now and spread the good news to those who are still seeking the answer.
Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Sept. 25
Luke 9: 18-22
Today’s Gospel, if we read ahead a few verses, brings to light one of the great Christian paradoxes: Gain is really loss and loss is really gain. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (v. 24). Jesus lost his life for us and we gained eternal life and resurrection with him.
Peter, in response to Jesus’ question about who the disciples thought he was, said: “The Christ of God.” Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the Messiah, and he tells us he came to bring a new age which encompasses new life for all who listen to his message and put it into practice. But that new life, a life of happiness, peace and joy, comes with a price tag: We must surrender our human ways to gain the divine.
As the last sentence indicates, loss is loss but sometimes it is really worth it. When I look at my own life now, I see that I lost my way and in so doing I found his way, and it was certainly worth it. There is no comparison between the two. Have you discovered this yet?
Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Sept. 26
Luke 9: 43-45
In today’s very brief Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus predicts his Passion for the second time in Luke’s Gospel. Luke seemingly goes out of his way to emphasize the suffering he will undergo. The disciples preferred not to listen to such talk of suffering and dying, as we already saw in last Sunday’s Gospel and homily. They preferred to talk about which one of them was the greatest. But the fact remains: There can be no resurrection – for Jesus or for ourselves – without suffering and death. Many of us do not like to hear this. For some this message is too “hard” – and we leave Jesus and reject his message.
How do I view suffering in my own life? Are there any instances where my suffering and pain brought new life, where I rose from where I was?