1st Reading — Isaiah 53: 10-11
This is part of the fourth Suffering Servant Song that is found in Isaiah. One can read all of these Servant Songs at Isaiah 42: 1-7; 49:1-7; 50:4-9; 52:12-53:12. They were written during the time of exile when the nation of Israel was itself the ‘suffering servant’. Its intention was to offer a word of hope and consolation. The early Christian community believed that Jesus was the Suffering Servant; it isn’t certain if Jesus actually saw himself that way, but he could certainly identify with it. How do you identify with this passage? Did you see a light in the tunnel when you have had moments of suffering?
The word for many according to Jewish scholars referred to gentiles. In later Judaism, the many was understood to mean “all” – everyone, all the nations, all people. The Suffering Servant would save all people. What good news! (Share the Word, 52, and Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook, Year B, 686)
From Preaching Resources, Oct. 2006:
God can make sense of chaos. God can bring good out of bad. The Christian view of history is not that goodness overcomes badness, but that goodness survives badness. We learn that from Jesus, God’s own son. God has high hopes for us and for his world. God is tickled to have us in God’s life. The God we find in Jesus promises us that all will be well in the end.
If Jesus came with the sole mission of taking away all pain in this life, then he failed miserably. But perhaps God inspired the Suffering Servant songs precisely to help us understand the sufferings of Jesus and so learn how to cope with our own sufferings – growing in compassion regarding the sufferings of others. (Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.)
2nd Reading — Hebrews 4: 14-16
Here the Suffering Servant is the High Priest. How does this reading give you confidence? How do we hold fast to our confession?
As different as Jesus is from us, he also knows and understands our weaknesses. Like us, he too was tempted, and not only once at the start of his ministry, but throughout his life, just as we are. The difference, of course, is that though tempted “in every way,” he never sinned. The consequences of all this are no less than astounding: we can “confidently” approach “the throne of grace,” that is, the throne of God, because Christ, our brother in the flesh and our Lord in eternity, has thrown wide the gates of access to God’s merciful love, (Workbook for Lectors…255).
The Gospel — Mark 10: 35-45
From your experience, what is so great about being servant? Where is the good in this?
After James and John argued their point that they should have “special seats” in heaven (Doesn’t it remind you of kids who want to sit in the front seat?), Jesus summons all of his disciples saying, “You know….there are rulers in the world that want power and prestige, and you aren’t them.” In other words, Jesus is gently and lovingly telling them to get over themselves! They must be willing to really drink from the cup.
John Pilch says that in this culture, the head of the family would fill the cups of all at the table. Each one is expected to accept and drink what the head of the family has given. In a type of analogy, God is like this parent and so this cup came to represent the ‘lot’ or reality of our life. Jesus accepts the reality and his call from God to serve others by showing them God’s kingdom, God’s power and love. Jesus’ ‘honor’ will be attained in this way, even when evil tries to stop him. What is your cup? How does this add insight into the ‘sharing of the cup’ at Eucharist? (“Historical Cultural Context” http://liturgy.slu.edu. )
Henri Nouwen opened up this idea even further in his book, Can You Drink the Cup?. He asks, “Can you drink the cup? Can you taste all the sorrows and joys? Can you live your life to the full whatever it will bring?” Drinking the cup of life involves holding, lifting and drinking. It is the full celebration of being human. We must hold our cup and fully claim who we are and what we are called to live. When each of us can hold firm our own cup, with its many sorrows and joys, claiming it as our unique life, then too, can we lift it up for others to see and encourage them to lift up their lives as well. Drinking the cup of life says, “This is my life,“ and “I want this to be my life.”
Thoughts from M. Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbk.,Yr. B, 689: The word ‘ransom’ in this setting in Hebrew means an offering for sin, an atonement offering. Jesus has paid the universal debt: he has given his life for many (ALL, see above) to redeem the world.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against the Nazis’ unjust and inhuman treatment of Jews in Germany before and during WWII. He was killed by order of Hitler, but his life and words still inspire many. In his reflections on Jesus’ call to service, he lists certain ministries or services that can encourage a holy and wholesome communal life:
- The service of holding one’s tongue so as to prevent undue criticism or domination while allowing the other to grow freely, in God’s image not my own.
- The service of humility that places the honor, opinion and well-being of another before my own.
- The service of listening that does not listen with only half an ear presuming to know already what the other has to say.
- The service of active helpfulness that remembers that nobody is too good for the lowliest service.
- The service of proclaiming by speaking God’s words of compassion and truth even in difficult circumstances.
Only after all these services are in place and available to all can the service of authority be truly exercised. True authority is humble, willing to listen. It is actively helping to ease the burdens of others, while speaking words that give life. (Preaching Resources, October 2000)
Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
I was blessed to have Fr. Frank Matera a renowned scripture scholar as a teacher and a couple of times I got to interact with him in a smaller setting. We were talking about this Gospel passage and I suggested that the rich man’s face fell because he had so many possessions, but he still gave it all up and followed Jesus. Fr. Matera looked at me with something less than the compassion that Jesus showed the rich man and said, “Bob, that’s not what happened.” But that makes such a good ending!
We all want the bible to say what we think it should say. It is especially true with the “hard sayings” of the bible, such as “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom…
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Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
I think most of us are aware that there are two stories of creation in the book of Genesis. They do not contradict each other as much as they complement one another. That makes sense. After all, God is too big and the story of creation is too important to be portrayed from one perspective. In the first story of creation, God is powerful and majestic and indeed God is. God says, “Let there be light,” there is light and it is good and that is that. In the second story of we have a portrait of God as intimate and caring, literally getting his hands dirty making Adam out of mud and developing a relationship with him. Both stories are revelatory of a God who is both powerful and intimate. As to which story you prefer, it is a kind of a personality…
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1st Reading — Wisdom 7: 7-11
The author of this book lived in Alexandria, the major Mediterranean port city in Egypt. He wrote his work in Greek for the large Greek-speaking Jewish community there, shortly after the beginning of Roman rule in 28 BC. He probably taught in one of the many synagogues in the city, and his book demonstrates the profound knowledge he possessed of both Jewish and Greek culture and learning. The author shows that one can be open to Greek ways and still remain a faithful Jew, (Ceresko, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 327). Solomon was seen as the model of Wisdom and was also remembered for building the magnificent temple. This book was written with his name as sort of an ‘honorary’ author. (Preaching Resources, Oct. 15, 2006)
What is it to be wise? Name a person you know or have heard about who seems wise to you. What attributes does this person exhibit that help you to understand what wisdom is?
2nd Reading — Hebrews 4: 12-13
What does the image of this two-edged sword say to you? Is it empowering, frightening, encouraging? How do you think the Word of God as living and active?
This hymn-like tribute to the Word of God (imagine it being sung) invites us – urges us – into transformation. Mary Birmingham says (W&W, B): The Word comforts those who turn to its counsel. Like a sword it penetrates the dark recesses of the human soul. It pierces the lies and the denial and exposes them to the truth. The Word judges the heart. The word ‘judge’ comes from the Greek word kritikis that means crisis. A crisis is a time for a decision — for judgment. The Word of God uncovers the hidden secrets and questionable motives in our hearts and invites transformation.
From William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrew, p.40:
The Greek phrases that make up the last part of this section about being “exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account” may have various interpretations. One is that the word was used in wrestling for seizing an opponent in such a way that he could not move or escape. It may be telling us that we may escape God for awhile, but then God grips us in such a way that we cannot help meeting him face to face – as we are. It also refers to the fact that God sees us to the heart – to our inner most being. In the end we must stop running from our selves – and from God. Remember always: God sees with love.
The Gospel –Mark 10: 17-30:
Most of us Christians cannot walk away from everything tomorrow. But all of us are called to personal assessment. The more God grows in our lives, the more simply and generously we can live. When we allow God to fill our hearts and minds, there is less room for ‘more things.’ What stands between God and us? Let us pray for wisdom and use God’s Word as a sharp sword that cuts through the ‘nonsense’ that sometimes surrounds us and deadens us. (Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p.662)
From John Pilch, The Cultural World of Jesus, 148-150 and http://liturgy.slu.edu :
The journey is mentioned at the beginning. This is the journey to Jerusalem and eventually to the cross… What do you think of the way that the man compliments Jesus? Are compliments sometimes given so that they can be returned? Or do they imply that the person is so arrogant that they would think highly of us if we compliment them? This was often the case in Jesus’ culture and times. John Pilch also notes that whenever the word “rich” appears in the Bible it is better to substitute the word “greedy.” At this time the ‘greedy rich’ land owners had 98% of the wealth even though they were only 1% or 2% of the population. They surrounded themselves with those who could supply their every want including honor and prestige. Jesus is also challenging how they (and we) view family. For this young man to sell all would have meant untying himself from family, home and land. Jesus’ challenge was one that would seem like social suicide, but in the end it would lead to more family, real treasure, and full life: The Kingdom. In your life today, how would you view such a challenge?
An interesting comment from Living Liturgy, 2003, p. 227: The procession [at Mass] with the bread and wine is symbolic of our own journey from life to eternal life when we will stand at the messianic banquet ‘in the age to come.’ The bread and wine are symbolic of ourselves, just as the bread and wine are substantially changed into the real Body and Blood of Christ, so we are transformed into more perfect members of that Body. Finally, when the gifts of the community include food, necessities, and money for the poor this is wonderfully symbolic of our willingness to “give to the poor” and taking Jesus’ invitation to follow him quite seriously. It is a concrete way for us to show our willingness not to be possessed by our riches but to give of ourselves, emptying ourselves to better follow Jesus with an undivided heart.
Which commandments are missing? Did Jesus forget them? Hardly…the 1st 4 commandments are that there is only 1 God, don’t worship anyone or anything else, don’t use God’s name in vain and the Sabbath is holy. Why do you think he omits them? They all have to do with worshipping God. Perhaps Jesus knew this man already practiced these things.
Notice how Jesus tells him to GO and sell his things, then COME and follow me. Jesus usually calls and sends in a single movement. He almost never sends without first calling a person explicitly. Yet in this case, the man is sent away to do something before he is called to follow Christ. Why do you think that is? Do you think his wealth has anything to do with it? (Gittins, Encountering Jesus, p. 74-75)
Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
There are two birds associated with the Holy Spirit. We are all familiar with the dove, ancient Christian art often uses another representation, a wild goose. Those are two very different images. The hovering of the dove is a peaceful and abiding presence, but the wild goose is something else. It speaks of the unpredictability of the Spirit that may be chased, but is rarely caught.
The first reading speaks of the goosiness of the Spirit. A portion of the spirit that enlivened Moses is to be shared with seventy-two people as a cloud descends upon them. Two people do not show up. What they could have been doing that was more important than receiving the spirit from a holy cloud, I have no idea. But it turns out they are prophesying just as the others who were present. Joshua asks if they should…
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My husband and I woke up at 4:30am this morning because we heard a thud of some kind. Chris sleepily got out of bed to check it out, saw nothing wrong in the house and came back to bed. When I got up later in the morning, I saw that my neighbor’s garbage can had been hit and garbage was all over the street. The next door neighbor had called the police to alert them. Another neighbor came with a shovel and her own garbage can to clean it up. Chris went out to help. By then, the woman who owned the garbage can had woken up and was standing in her bathrobe…shaking her head at why someone would do such a thing. By the time I had gotten ready for the day, everything was cleaned up and no one would have known anything had happened (except for the crushed can that needs replacing).
I was struck by how everyone came together to help a neighbor, even when she was still asleep. I was struck by how much we need each other.
Desmond Tutu, who is most known for his anti-apartheid work, talks about ubuntu. The African idea that we belong to one another. That we must identify so much with each other that we see you as me and I as you. We are one. He describes it better than I can:
My hope is that we can apply this to who we are as church. I see so many empty seats lately. Sometimes I even think of being an empty seat myself. But we need each other. God made us to need each other. It’s a reflection of our need for God. So despite the ills – and I know they are grave – I’ve got to keep coming. Because I need you. And I need God, more than ever. Church helps me feel more connected to all that. Ubuntu.
This prayer is a beautiful Ubuntu prayer:
I am because you are…you are because I am
I am the ancestor and the unborn
You are the ancestor and the unborn
When I fail, you fail…When you fail, I fail
When I thrive, you thrive…When you thrive, I thrive
Wherever I go, I carry you
Wherever you go, you carry me
I am the ancestor and unborn
You are the ancestor and the unborn
I recognize the God in me, just as I recognize the God in you
I am because we are…you are because I am
I love you because I am you…AMEN
So let’s go pick up the trash together and be church. Hope to see you there. Ubuntu.
1st Reading – Genesis 2: 18-24:
When you read Genesis, you will notice there are actually 2 creation stories side by side. Theologians have determined that this is because there are 2 sources, one being Yahwist (J) and the other Priestly (P). This creation story is by Yahwist, which is an earlier and more “earthy” source. These creation stories in Genesis are not intended to be read as scientific documents about the beginning of things. They are etiological stories written to help us ponder and understand basic truths about humans and creation. How does this story speak to you about humanity and creation?
From Genesis, Gerhard von Rad (83-84): “When man says “ox” he has not simply discovered the word “ox,” but rather understood this creature as ox and included it in his imagination and his life as a help to his life. Here one should note the creaturely proximity of man and beast to each other…A “deep sleep” falls upon the man, a kind of magical sleep that completely extinguishes his consciousness. The narrator is moved by the thought that God’s miraculous creating permits no watching…Now God himself, like a father of the bride, leads the woman to the man. The man in supreme joy at once recognizes the new creature as one belonging completely to him, and he expresses his understanding immediately in the proper name that he gives the new creature.” This commentary fleshes out (literally!) the relationality we as humans have with each other and with creation. We need each other. We were made that way. It’s easy to see how we need the people in our lives, but what about the birds? the trees? the bugs?
*Note: Made from the rib of the man, the woman is no more inferior to him than the man is inferior to the dust of the ground from which he comes (“Scripture from Scratch”, 10/04)
2nd Reading – Hebrews 2: 9-11:
From Preaching Resources, Oct. 2006:
The author (and even the audience) is unknown for this ‘letter.’ It is not even really a letter, and there is much discussion over exactly what type of writing it is – a sermon? an exhortation? a treatise? But it contains a message that continues to be of great importance and truth. It tells of a God who is not at a distance from his creation, but “a God who has been speaking, arguing, pleading, wooing, commanding and generally spinning words across the lines between heaven and earth since the beginning of time.” These messages from God are like a great musical overture that reached its crescendo in Jesus Christ. Jesus who is God’s ultimate Word became one of us – even to the point of death. Here in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we can hear the salvation that God intended for sinners fully and hopefully with great thanksgiving.
Hebrews is part of the early Church’s effort to understand Christ as both human and divine. Preceding this reading, Psalms 8 is quoted that angels are ‘rulers over the new world to come’ (Workbook for Lectors, 249). But Christ made himself lower than the angels for a little while…so he could taste death like everyone does. Christ wants to be one with us. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians about Christ: “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, “ (2:6-7). In Hebrews and Philippians, the intent was for the hearers of the message to place their trust in Christ. Does it make you want to place more trust in Him?
The Gospel — Mark (10: 2-16):
How has God’s grace (God’s love, God’s very life) been present for you in a child – a spouse, a parent, a friend? Maybe this is more about our ‘hard-hearts’ than about divorce. What do you think? In the church there is room for everyone. As church we still need to proclaim the ideal of holiness of marriage, because it comes from Christ and his wisdom; it builds up the human family. But Christ calls all of us into a love relationship with God and with others. Due to human weakness we all fall short in one way or another. This only means we need Christ more; we need to alleviate the pain of broken relationships whenever and wherever we can, (Footprints on the Mountain, Roland Foley, 649). We must be like children, open, vulnerable and trusting.
Jesus is being asked his opinion on a very hotly debated issue of his day: the grounds for divorce. The words in Deuteronomy (24; 1-40) say that a man can divorce a woman for ‘some indecency’ which, of course, could mean many things. Some conservatives of Jesus’ day said a man could only divorce a woman for adultery. Others said that divorce was all right if a woman was a poor cook, if she spoke to strangers, if she gossiped about her husband’s family, or simply if he found another woman more attractive. Women, for the most part, had no right to divorce, at all, in Jesus’ time and culture. Women in the Roman/Greek culture, however, could divorce, that is why Mark’s gospel refers to this in vs. 12.
Divorce at this time was also more than just a separation of two partners; it was a separation of families. God had chosen one’s parents it was believed. Then, the parents chose the marriage partners for their sons and daughters. In that sense then, God chose – God, through the chosen parents, had joined them together. Thus, “what God had joined together, let no one separate.”
Divorce then brought great shame not only to the woman, but also to her family – in particular to the males of that family. This shame would often be a cause for feuding. Bloodshed was a common result from such a ‘separation’. (J. Pilch, Cultural World of Jesus, Cycle B; Preaching Resources, Oct. 2006)
A word of warning and compassion: This passage can be a cause of great pain and resentment for those who have suffered because of a union that was far from the ideal. “Without detracting anything from the sacredness of the gift of marriage, those who have suffered as a result of their unions should be shown respect, understanding and encouragement. Support for them in their struggle should be the order of the day in a community that is meant to be a home to all.” Just as physical nourishment is needed for one to grow strong, so spiritual nourishment is also needed and should not be withheld. This is the nourishment of friendship and the sacrament of Christ’s presence. Everyone needs God’s strength and his grace of forgiveness daily. This is an important for all, whether married or unmarried. (Preaching Resources, Oct. 2006)
1st Reading – Numbers 11: 25-29
The name Numbers comes from the description of the census in chapter one of this book. The laws contained in the Book of Numbers are directed to a people on a journey through the promised land. The material contained here extends over many centuries and comes from various ancient sources. The narrative part comes from an earlier time, while the laws are probably from a much later time in Israel’s history. A part of Numbers parallels the story of Exodus, especially all the grumbling and rebelliousness. It stresses the Lord’s patience with his people as his ‘punishments’ are always balanced with God’s listening and God’s response to their needs. The purpose of any punishment is only to change their hearts and to encourage them to listen again to God’s ways of justice and care (Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook for Year B, 660)
Although this is an ‘ancient story,’ how does it speak to you today? This story is evangelization at its best! But isn’t it too often that those close to the seat of power, relishing their privileged position, play gatekeeper to ensure that others who are not authorized don’t gain access to the coveted power? (Workbook for Lectors…, 245) It is so easy to think small, to continue doing things the same because “it’s how we’ve always done it”. God wants us to be open to see things in a new way! “God is trying to help us to see ourselves the way he sees us already, “ (Coutinho, How Big is Your God?, 65). Is there anything that is holding you back from allowing God’s spirit to be bestowed in you?
2nd Reading – James 5: 1-6
This reading should wake us all up this Sunday morning! This is the tenth exhortation in James’ letter. In vivid, powerful language it calls for all to be people of social justice. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, James is reminding us in no uncertain terms that God hears the cries of the poor and the abused. As people of God we need to listen and respond also. Poverty, of course, is not good in itself, but it can foster a reliance on God. Here is what St. Basil (329-379), church father, said regarding our attitude to another’s need: “If everyone kept only what is necessary for ordinary needs and left the surplus to the poor, wealth and poverty would be abolished . . . the bread you store belongs to the hungry. The cloak kept in your closet belongs to those who lack clothing. The money you keep hidden away belongs to the needy. Thus you oppress as many people as you are in a position to help.” (Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook for Year B, 661-662)
What might be most challenging is how the passage ends: he offers you no resistance. Who is he? We could look at it as the oppressed not resisting. What if he were God? God did give us free will and allows us to make our choices, good or bad. Challenging words . . . how do you grapple with all of this?
The Gospel — Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Hyperbole is a common human way to communicate – especially when something is very important to us – or we want to draw attention to something: “She asked me a million questions!” “It scared the life right out of me!” “I waited in line forever!”
Jesus like so many teachers of his day also used this kind of language to get everyone’s attention. Here with the talk of cutting off body parts, Jesus is trying to emphasize how important it is to live God’s way of love and justice in order to be fully healthy and alive – AND how terrible evil is: it is as tragic as losing a hand or foot or eye! (Living Liturgy, Cycle B. 217)
Gehenna with its unquenchable fire was a real place in Jesus’ day. It was the Valley of Ben-Hinnon just south of Jerusalem. There Ahaz (a former king) had sinned in burning his sons as a sacrifice to the pagan god, Molech (2 Chronicles 28:3) Later, Ahaz’s grandson, Manasseh also sacrificed his sons by fire (2 Chronicles 33:6). The sight became infamous for sin and depravity being called the Slaughter Valley (see Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5-6; 39:35). King Josiah reformed things and put an end to such awful practices and declared this valley to be unclean (2 Kings 23:10). Later, the place was used as a garbage dump where Jerusalem’s refuse was burned and rotted: “where the worm dies not and the fire is never extinguished.” (Celebration, September 28, 2003).
Jesus is inclusive, not exclusive. “Jesus cares only that his ministry of love, mercy, and compassion continue. He welcomes anyone who offers these works of mercy and justice. Attitudes of “holier than thou” do not serve God’s people. Christians are to support all efforts to extend compassion and love to others. Karl Rahner coined the term, “anonymous Christian” to describe anyone who lived Jesus’ message of love and justice even if they did not ‘call’ themselves Christians (or Catholic)(Birmingham, Word and Worship, 663). We must allow God’s Spirit in and not be resistant to what God might be working on in our lives.
Desmond Tutu, an Anglican Archbishop from South Africa: When you are in the presence of the Spirit, it is like sitting in front of a fire that does not burn you, but suffuses you with its qualities – its warmth, glow, and color. And, as you are there, in the presence of the Spirit, you also become suffused with the Spirit’s attributes of compassion, gentleness and love. You are loved and you are held in that love.” (Preaching Resources, Sept. 28, 2003)
Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
Jesus has just spoken of being handed over to those who would torture and kill him before he rose from the dead three days later. The incredibly uncurious apostles do not understand and as no questions for their minds seem to be on other things. Jesus hears them talking and when they return home, Jesus asks them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” The Gospel says they remained silent for they had been caught, like teenager caught. I actually imagine it was not quite silence but in a conversation that might seem familiar they mumbled and finally blurted out, “Nothing.”
You see, they were speaking about the worst possible thing at the worst possible time. As Jesus was talking about sacrifice and complete surrender to the will of God, they were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. And you…
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1st Reading: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
The Book of Wisdom is known only in Greek and may be the last book of the Old Testament to be written. The main interest of the author is to reassure the Jewish community living in Egypt that keeping their faith is worthwhile despite the hardships in a pagan land (Aren’t we still?). Prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah draw from the insights in this book, so it deserves healthy attention (Reading the Old Testament, Boadt, p. 488-489).
Gandhi was inspired by the teachings of Jesus, in particular the emphasis on love for everyone, even one’s enemies, and the need to strive for justice. He also took from Hinduism the importance of action in one’s life, without concern for success; the Hindu text Bhagavad-Gita says, “On action alone be thy interest, / Never on its fruits / Abiding in discipline perform actions, / Abandoning attachment / Being indifferent to success or failure” (Wolpert, India 71).
For Gandhi, ahimsa was the expression of the deepest love for all humans, including one’s opponents; this non-violence therefore included not only a lack of physical harm to them, but also a lack of hatred or ill-will towards them. Gandhi rejected the traditional dichotomy between one’s own side and the “enemy;” he believed in the need to convince opponents of their injustice, not to punish them, and in this way one could win their friendship and one’s own freedom. If need be, one might need to suffer or die in order that they may be converted to love (http://www.socialchangenow.ca/mypages/gandhi.htm).
In South Africa, the words “I am” also mean “you are.” I am because you are! This concept, known as ubuntu, emerged in the 19th century and developed as a world view for South Africans when apartheid was legislated in the early 1950s. It literally stands for human-ness or humanity toward others. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said ubuntu means “I am human because I belong, I participate, I share.” Nelson Mandela wrote “Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?” Ubuntu then is a philosophy of interdependence (from recent blog of https://richardsvosko.wordpress.com/). How does this fit in setting the “wicked” as someone else? Are we all to learn and be blessed by one another?
2nd reading: James 3:16-4:3
James questions what we still question today…why is there war? Why can we hold on to our own self interests? He begs his listeners to be seekers of peace…to be pure, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits. Where do you find peace in your life? How does this help you in times of conflict?
From Seeking Peace, Johann Christoph Arnold:
“You will always find reasons to grumble. If you want to find peace, you must be willing to give them up. I beg you: stop concentrating on your desire to be loved. It is the opposite of Christianity.”
“…the inside must become like the outside (and the other way around)…a consistent battle in favor of all that is life-bringing and good…”
“Joy and peace are found in loving and nowhere else.” – John Stott
Gospel: Mark 9:30-37
Not only is Jesus predicting his Passion and death a second time (remember last week’s Gospel?), but he is teaching his disciples the meaning of servant. We are all servants of Christ and servants in his household. (Birmingham, W&W, 653) How do we become servants of Christ? It’s all about the love! J We will be unable to endure the cross Christ asks of us if we do not grow in the love he gives us. When we follow the way of the Lord and the will of God in love, we live in the justice which we seek in our prayer. Only then will we understand and live the life of a true servant of Christ (654).
Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges developed the Lead Like Jesus movement. Like Sigmund Freud said, ego has a lot to do with it. We have a tendency to Edge God Out by putting ourselves in the center (like the disciples in this Gospel story). We let pride and fear get in the way. We need to have a tendency for Exalting God Only, where we have a spirit of humility and confidence in God’s purpose. It is a lifelong struggle (Phelps, The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus, 58-63).
Did you notice that Jesus and the disciples are in constant motion? They are constantly on the way to somewhere, on a journey. This is like our lives now! We are challenged to be present with Jesus in our constant motion too.
The word for servant (talya) is interchangeable with child. The word receives is the same word for welcomes in 6:11. It means taking care of the weaker members of the community – those who are in most need of being served. Children were at the bottom of society’s social ladder. Childhood was a time of great danger. 30% of live births ended in death. Disease and lack of hygiene caused 60% of children to die by the age of 16 (Birmingham, W&W, 656). Jesus turns everything upside down for us. We are supposed to be more like children (or servants) to receive Him. How do we do this? Again, it is all about the love…