September 27, 2015

26th Sun., Ordinary Time

September 27, 2015:  Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Pope Francis in Philly
At meeting for religious liberty:  The Declaration of Independence stated that all people are created equal, endowed by their Creator with rights, and that governments exist to protect and defend those rights. The struggles leading to the abolition of slavery, the extension of voting rights, the growth of the labor movement, and efforts to eliminate racism and prejudice show that a country respecting human dignity is strengthened and renewed.  When we're guaranteed effective exercise of our rights, we can realize our potential and contribute to society. 
The fundamental right to religious freedom shapes how we interact with those whose religious views differ from ours.  It includes the right to worship as our consciences dictate, but it transcends places of worship and the private sphere.  Religious traditions serve society primarily by their message.  They call us to worship God, source of life, liberty, and happiness.  They remind us of the transcendence of human existence and our freedom.  Recall the atrocities perpetrated by systems claiming to build an “earthly paradise” by dominating peoples and denying rights.  Our religious traditions offer meaning and direction, open horizons, stimulate thought, expand the mind and heart, and call to conversion, reconciliation, concern for the future, self-sacrifice, service, and compassion; they proclaim the dignity of the human person.  Our religious traditions remind us of our call to acknowledge One who reveals our relational identity in the face of efforts to impose uniformity some would impose. 
In a world where modern tyranny seeks to suppress religious freedom or to dampen its public voice, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred, we must call for peace, tolerance, and respect for human dignity and rights.  Our world aims at uniformity and seeks to eliminate differences in a superficial quest for unity.  Religions have the right and duty to make clear that we can build a society where healthy pluralism respects and values differences; religion is an ally in the commitment to defending human dignity and a path to peace.
The Quakers, inspired by a sense of the dignity of each individual and the ideal of a united community, founded a colony that became a haven of religious freedom and tolerance.  That sense of concern for the dignity of all, especially the weak and vulnerable, became part of the American spirit.  St. John Paul II reminded us, “The ultimate test of your greatness is how you treat every human being, especially the weakest and most defenseless.”
Thanks to all who have sought to build cities of love, caring for the needy, defending the dignity of life and the cause of the poor and immigrants.  Often, those most in need aren't heard.  You are their voice.  This witness, which often encounters resistance, reminds American democracy of the ideals it was founded for.
I greet the Hispanic population and all immigrants with affection!  Many have emigrated, at great cost, in the hope of building a new life.  Don't let hardships discourage you.  You bring many gifts to your new nation.  Don't be ashamed of your traditions, your lifeblood.  Remember the lessons you learned from your elders and bring them to enrich American life.  Be responsible citizens, contributing to the life of your communities.  I think of your vibrant faith, sense of family life, and other values you've inherited.  Contribute your gifts, find your place here, and help renew society.
You all enjoy many blessings and freedoms.  Defend your God-given rights, especially religious freedom.
Saturday homily, Cathedral:  The history of the Church is about breaking down walls, going out to the peripheries, building communities of worship, education, charity, and service.  The story is seen in your shrines, parishes, schools, and service of the poor, immigrants, and the sick and imprisoned.  You're called to enrich this legacy and pass it on.  When St. Katharine Drexel spoke to Leo XIII of the needs of the missions, the Pope asked her, “What are you going to do?”  Those words changed her life; they reminded her that every Christian has a mission.  Each of us has to respond to the Lord’s call to build up his Body. 
“What about you?”  made her think of what had to be done and realize she was called to do her part.  Do we challenge the young people in our parishes and schools?  Do we help them do their part, to share their enthusiasm and gifts in works of mercy and concern for others?  Do we share our joy in serving the Lord?  A great challenge is to foster in the faithful a sense of responsibility for the Church’s mission, and to enable them to be missionary disciples.  This will require creativity in adapting to change, being open to the possibilities the Spirit opens up to us, and communicating Gospel joy daily.
“What about you?” was addressed to a lay woman.  The future of the Church calls for the laity's active engagement.  The US Church has devoted immense effort to catechesis and education.  Build on those foundations and foster collaboration and shared responsibility in planning for the future. Discern and employ the gifts the Spirit pours out on the Church.  Value the contribution of women, lay and religious. 
Thank you for how you've answered Jesus’ question, “What about you?”  Be renewed in the joy of that first encounter with Jesus and draw from it renewed fidelity and strength.  Pray for families and for me....
At celebration of family life:  (after performances and couples' testimonies) The family is God’s great gift, the most beautiful part of creation, the channel and reflection of God’s beauty, truth, and goodness. The family,  founded on marital love, is like a factory of hope.  No family is perfect, and every one has conflicts and challenges, but the family has abiding love to overcome them; there's light because the love of God opened the door of love.  Remember the light of the Resurrection.
Only love can overcome.  Remember and care for children and elderly family members.  Children are the future, the strength that moves us forward, and grandparents are the living memory of the family; looking after them is the expression of love.  The stakes can't be higher:  a people not able to look after their children and grandparents has no future; it doesn’t have strength or the memory to advance.
At prayer vigil for the World Meeting of Families:  How important it is to share our home life and to help one another to be family.  God came into the world through a family, a home; he wanted the name Emmanuel, God with us.  “I am God with you, for you.”  From the beginning he said, “It's not good for man to be alone.”  It's not good for anyone to be alone.  Family is the great blessing, the great gift of “God with us” who didn't want to abandon us to solitude, without challenges, without a home.
God tries to do everything “with us.”  His dream comes true in the dreams of many couples who work to make their life that of a family.  The family is the living symbol of God's loving plan.  To form a family is to be a part of God’s dream, to dream with him, to build with him, to join him in building a world where no one will feel alone, unwanted, or homeless.  We appreciate the beauty of the family as the place we come to learn the meaning and value of relationships.  “To love someone is not just a strong feeling; it's a decision, a judgment, a promise” (Fromm, The Art of Loving).  We stake everything on another person, and we learn it's worth it.
Jesus was't a confirmed bachelor; he took the Church as his bride and made her his people.  He laid down his life for those he loved, so that his bride could always know he's God with us, his people, his family.  We can't understand Christ without his Church; we can't understand the Church without her spouse, Christ, who gave his life out of love and makes us see that it's worth it.
Laying down one’s life out of love is not easy; it can involve the cross.  Everything can seem uphill.  Think of parents who lack employment or rights.  How many sacrifices they make to earn their daily bread!  When they return home, they're so weary they can't give their children their best.  Think of families lacking adequate housing, families lacking the basics to build bonds of closeness, security, and protection.  Think of families with no access to health services, depending on a system which doesn't meet their needs, insensitive to their pain, and forcing them to make great sacrifices to receive treatment.  A society not leaving room for family life isn't healthy; a society incapable of passing laws to protect families and ensure their basic needs has no future.  How many problems would be solved if society protected families and provided households the possibility of dignified work, housing, and health care. 
God’s dream remains intact and invites us to work for a society that supports families, where bread is put on the table of every home, to nourish its children's hope.  Help one another make it possible to stake everything on love. Help one another in hard times and lighten each other’s burdens.  Support one another.  Perfect families don't exist, but don't be discouraged:  love must be learned and lived; it grows as it's “forged” by concrete situations.  It's born and develops amid lights and shadows; it can flourish in people who don't make conflict the last word but rather a new opportunity to seek help, to question how we need to improve, to discover the God-with-us who never abandons us.  Give your children the lesson that we make mistakes and have problems but know they're opportunities to draw closer to others and to God. 

  • 'Owl' tie pin:  The Lord's decree gives wisdom (psalm)
  • Girl with heart:  The Lord's precepts give joy to the heart (psalm); You rich, you've fattened your hearts... (2nd reading)
  • 'Penny' button:  You rich, wail; your wealth has rotted away... (2nd reading)
  • Gold- and silver-colored accoutrements:  You rich, your gold and silver have corroded (2nd reading)
  • 'Hand' pin:  If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off (gospel)
  • 'Feet' pin:  If your foot causes you to sin, cut if off (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out (gospel)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season
  • Nm 11:25-29  The Lord bestowed some of the spirit that was on Moses on the seventy elders, and they prophesied.  Eldad and Medad were on the list; the spirit rested on them too though they hadn't gone to the tent, and they prophesied in the camp.  Man to Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying, "  Joshua / Moses:  "Stop them." / "Are you jealous?  Would that the Lord bestowed his spirit on all his people to be prophets!"
  • Ps 19:8, 10, 12-14  "The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart."  The law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, true, and just, giving wisdom.  Cleanse me!  Don't let sin rule me....
  • Jas 5:1-6  You rich, weep over your impending miseries; your wealth has rotted away.  You've stored up treasure, but the wages you withheld cry out to the Lord.  You lived in luxury and pleasure, condemned, and murdered the righteous.
  • Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48  John / Jesus:  "We saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him." / "Don't.  No one who performs a mighty deed in my name can also speak ill of me.  Whoever is not against us is for us.  Anyone who gives you a cup of water because you belong to Christ will be rewarded.  If someone causes a believer to sin, it would be better for him if he were hurled into the sea wearing a millstone.  If your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, cut it off; better to enter into life maimed, crippled, or one-eyed than to go into the fire of Gehenna.
    • Creighton:  Moses and Jesus have the same response about "unplanned" prophesying or driving out demons.  God's grace don't always come in ways we expect; we shouldn't get in the way.  We can condemn others for not "following the rules," but Jesus sees the Spirit.  Look for the Spirit's work.  James reminds us that wealth is "corrosive" and victims of injustice cry out.  Jesus tells us to "cut off" whatever leads us to sin.  Why am I judgmental?  Why do I want more, want to look better than others?  Why do I find it hard to care for those on the margin?  What underlying unfreedom causes me to sin?  Then I can ask for forgiveness and healing and identify how to change.  We only change when we deeply desire something else; otherwise we can deny we have a problem, even when we're unhappy. When we experience God's mercy, we want to be closer to him, be more like him, and we're gradually healed and become like him.
    • One Bread One Body:  "Making the cut":  If you're a captive in even a small part of your life, you can be paralyzed.  Sin can immobilize us. Cut out whatever holds you captive to sin....
      St. Vincent de Paul
    • Passionist:  "Better for, not better than":  The disciples have been learning the challenges, surprise, and hard lessons of following Jesus:  Peter offers to erect tents on Mt. Tabor, but Jesus warns them of suffering. Peter asks how often he must forgive, and Jesus replies 77.  While the disciples are arguing who’s the greatest, Jesus places a child (then a nonentity) before them.  Their questions show self-centered attitudes.  They were being spun around and sent out.  We're being formed to be 'better for,' not 'better than.'  Prophets and apostles have the same needs as those to whom they're sent.  Jesus meets us in our fragility, so that we won't be paralyzed by our weakness but inspired to embrace the world around us. 
    •  Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy.  Don't we get upset at good deeds that shine more than ours?  But "love is not jealous; it rejoices in the right."  Envy and jealousy lead us to sorrow over others' good that should make us rejoice.  Our neighbor's good is the object of both envy and love, but love rejoices in it while envy grieves over it.  We can overcome envy through love.  The Spirit frees us from disordered passions.  God's love is oriented towards our good.  True love seeks our neighbor's good.  God's love frees us from envy and jealousy and compels us to give. God created us in love for love. We're most free and happy when we love as he loves.  The love and help we show our neighbor expresses our gratitude God's mercy towards us.  Jesus declared that kindness and help would be rewarded.  We're called to be kind and generous as he is.
    Gregory of Nyssa:  “God never asks us to do the impossible.  His love and goodness are richly available, poured out on all.  God furnished each of us the ability to do good.  No one seeking to be saved will lack this ability, given by the one who said: 'whoever gives you a drink... will be rewarded.'”  Do you allow Christ's love to transform you so you may treat others with mercy?  Jesus' will for us leads to peace and happiness.  We must part with whatever causes us to sin.  Jesus warns of responsibility to not set a stumbling block, to not give offense or bad example.  The Greek for temptation is scandalon; scandal originally meant trap or stumbling block.  Jews held that was unforgivable to teach another to sin; it sets a sin train in motion.  Do I set a good example?
    • Trumped saint, from Universalis:  Vincent de Paul, priest, servant of the poor, founder of the Congregation of the Mission ("Vincentians"; see world and local sites) co-founder (with St. Louise de Marillac) of Daughters of Charity (world / local sites).

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