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Catholic Caucus: Sunday Mass Readings, 09-30-12, Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time ^ | 09-30-12 | Revised New American Bible

Posted on 09/29/2012 9:28:38 PM PDT by Salvation

September 30, 2012


Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Reading 1 Nm 11:25-29

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses.
Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses,
the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders;
and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad,
were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp.
They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent;
yet the spirit came to rest on them also,
and they prophesied in the camp.
So, when a young man quickly told Moses,
"Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, "
Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses?aide, said,
"Moses, my lord, stop them."
But Moses answered him,
"Are you jealous for my sake?
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14

R. (9a) The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
Though your servant is careful of them,
very diligent in keeping them,
Yet who can detect failings?
Cleanse me from my unknown faults!
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant;
let it not rule over me.
Then shall I be blameless and innocent
of serious sin.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Reading 2 Jas 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

Gospel Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; ordinarytime; prayer; saints
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To: All
Catholic Culture

Daily Readings for: September 30, 2012
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: O God, who manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Ordinary Time: September 30th

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. (Mk. 9:42-43)."

Click here for commentary on the readings in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Sunday Readings
The first reading is taken from the Book of Numbers 11:25-29. The book of Numbers is a narrative of the 39 years the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness. Today's reading comes from the account of the journey through the wilderness.

The second reading is from the Epistle of St. James 5:1-6. The main purpose of this epistle is the teaching of morality and self-discipline. The sacred writer speaks with great severity, not mincing his words, in order to make people see that actions of the kind he condemns are incompatible with the profession of the Christian faith.

The Gospel is from St. Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48. There are two very practical lessons we must learn from today's Gospel: the grave obligation we have of not causing scandal to our fellow-Christians or indeed to any man or woman and secondly, the willingness we should have to sacrifice any earthly possession which is a cause of sin to us.

Scandal, the sin of being a cause or an occasion of another's sin, is doubly sinful involving one's own sin and the sin of the person scandalized. Scandal can be caused by word—that is, by teaching or propagating wrong doctrine or by giving sinful advice, and it can be caused by one's own sinful deeds which may be imitated by others. Those in positions of authority such as parents whose duty it is to bring up their children in the Christian faith, are especially liable to give scandal if they fail to live truly Christian lives. Christian parents who fail to live according to their faith will be held accountable not only for their own sins, but for the sins of their children and perhaps their children's children for generations to come.

Much, if not all of today's moral laxity and permissiveness can be blamed on parents who have failed to give the example of true Christian living in the home and in dealings with their neighbors. To children of such parents, Christianity is only a label; it does not inform or inspire their lives, hence they are only nominal Christians. It is true that there may be "black sheep" in the best of Christian homes. When, however, all the children of a home are "black sheep" the whiteness, the sincerity, of the parents of such a home must certainly be called into question. There may be many bad influences at work outside the home but the good example of truly Christian parents can counteract these influences. Let parents see to it that they will not be a cause of scandal and a cause of eternal loss to the children God put into their charge.

The second lesson for all of us in today's Gospel is that we should ever realize that eternal life is worth any sacrifice which we may be called on to make. The road we have to travel in life is not an easy one. As our Lord says in another place: "Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Mt. 7: 13). We wish to reach heaven, therefore we must be prepared to follow Christ; we must not allow others to lead us astray but be prepared and determined to conquer and resist our own evil inclinations also.

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

41 posted on 09/30/2012 3:42:37 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Doctors of the Catholic Church

Saint Jerome was a brilliant scripture scholar and translator of the bible. He was a consultant to popes, bishops and monks. None before or after him were so well qualified or gifted to achieve the monumental task of translating into Latin all the Hebrew books of the bible.

He was peerless in his generation and his contributions to civilization and the church are extraordinary and unmatched. His biblical scholarship and intensity, passion and fury, in which he wrote, are emblematic of his personality traits. Our saint showed anger and deep compassion and he was held in high esteem by those who disliked and loved him. He is commonly called Hieronymus in Latin or Jerome.

The Father of Biblical Science defended the perpetual virginity in body and mind of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. He was a faithful priest of his day and no one was more learned, prepared and achieved the tasks that he accomplished. He was a prolific writer and his works were voluminous and included the major prophets, and 120 letters. His book of short biographies has preserved much information not otherwise known.

Father Christopher Renger's, O.F.M. book on the 33 Doctors is frequently quoted and his book is listed in the doctoral sources. There is also a concise, one page, historical summary on each of the 73 books of the bible listed at the end.

Jerome will surely tell you that ignorance of the bible is ignorance of Christ. Therefore, you may be the only bible some people will ever read so be careful how you live.

St Jerome, 345-420. Doctor of Biblical Science, Feast Sept 30th.

42 posted on 09/30/2012 3:46:14 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
The Word Among Us

Meditation: Numbers 11:25-29

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets!” (Numbers 11:29)

Moses had it right. Joshua was upset that Eldad and Medad were prophesying in the Israelite camp, but Moses couldn’t have been more pleased. As far as he was concerned, when it came to finding voices to speak God’s word to the people, the more the merrier!

Even today, God says: “Oh how I would love for each of my chil­dren to be a prophetic voice in the world.” Let’s be clear. It doesn’t take a theology degree or a doctorate in philosophy to qualify as a spokes­person for the Lord. It just takes a humble and contrite heart, an open­ness to hear God’s voice in prayer, and a desire to share what God tells us with others. You don’t need to be an eloquent speaker, and you don’t need to have every element of the Christian faith perfectly mastered.

But what does God want me to say? That’s something we can discover only as we pray and immerse ourselves in his word. He may move you to stand up for mar­riage, for purity in relationships, or for the unborn. You may feel prompted to listen more than you speak: to listen closely when peo­ple share struggles and difficulties, so that you can pray for them. Who knows? If they seem receptive, you may be moved to share with them about God’s love and about his pres­ence. Maybe they will let you pray with them right on the spot. Or if you are in a situation where the con­versation is drifting toward gossip or negative comments, you may feel a nudge to steer it back to a more uplifting topic.

In other words, speaking prophet­ically doesn’t always mean speaking dramatically. It just means learning the humility and trust necessary to listen to God and to let him speak his word through you. Remember, it doesn’t all depend on you!

“Jesus, give me a listening ear and a willing tongue. Give me courage to speak as opportunities arise. Open the hearts of those I meet today to receive your word. May everyone come to know you more!”

Psalm 19:8, 10-14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

1. In the first reading, Moses responds to Joshua’s concern by saying: “Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!” As baptized Catholics, the Holy Spirit dwells in each one of us. Share any personal experiences when you have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. What steps can you take to allow a deeper work of the Holy Spirit in your life?

2. The Responsorial Psalm reminds us that rather than being burdensome: “The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart,” as well as “refreshing the soul,” “giving wisdom to the simple,” and “enduring forever.” In what ways is this contrary to the current thinking in our culture? Where in your life have you been surprised when, by following God’s precepts instead of your own desires, you experienced joy, refreshment, and wisdom?

3. St. James, in the second reading, expresses his concern for justice and warns against the behavior of those who would cheat, demean, or dehumanize others. This theme was also of great concern to Pope John Paul II. What can we as Catholics do to promote a “culture of life” in our country, rather than a “culture of death?” What are some ways you could reach out to those who suffer injustice and are alienated?

4. In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus admonishes his disciples (and us) to be tolerant of all who serve him and believe in his name. This includes how we view and treat Christians who are not Catholic. What steps can we take as Catholics to foster unity with other Christians?

5. In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus warns us about behavior (words, actions, omissions) that might cause others to sin. What are some steps you can take to improve the kind of example and model you are as a Christian to your family, your neighbors, or your co-workers?

6. In the meditation, we hear these words: “speaking prophetically doesn’t always mean speaking dramatically. It just means learning the humility and trust necessary to listen to God and to let him speak his word through you.” Do you believe that God desires to speak his word to this broken and darkened world through you? Do you believe that God wants you to be a prophetic voice to others? If not, why not? If so, in what ways?

7. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord to give you a “listening ear and a willing tongue,” and the courage to speak his word when necessary. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

43 posted on 09/30/2012 3:51:32 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
A Christian Pilgrim


(A biblical refection on THE 26th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – 30 September, 2012) 

Gospel Reading: Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48 

First Reading: Num 11:25-29; Psalms: Ps 19:8,10,12-14; Second Reading: Jas 5:1-6 

The Scripture Text

John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. (Mr 9:38-43,45,47-48 RSV) 

The apostles had been debating about who was the greatest when they came upon a man casting out demons in the name of Jesus. Immediately they rebuked the man who “was not following us” (Mk 9:38). Isn’t it interesting that they were more concerned about this man Jesus was? After all, if the fellow was using Jesus’ name but wasn’t following Jesus, there was no guarantee that he was accurately representing Jesus at all!

This is what’s so amazing about Jesus. His desire is simply that everyone receive Him and live in the power of His life. He isn’t concerned about establishing an exclusive club, but about gathering a diverse group of people together and building them into one body that would rejoice in the grace and freedom of the Father.

Moses met with a way of thinking similar to the apostles’. One day as, as he gathered a group of men whom he had chosen to be elders in Israel, the Spirit of God fell upon them, and they began to prophecy. At the same time, two men who were not with Moses received the Spirit and prophesied as well. Joshua demanded that they be stopped, but Moses replied, “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets” (Num 11:29). Again, we see God’s simple desire to touch everyone. 

Today, let’s bring our hearts to the Lord and ask Him to free us from any sense of pride or divisiveness against our sisters and brothers in Christ. Let us now ask Jesus to fill us with a deep appreciation that His Church is filled with so many diverse people and so many different gifts of the Spirit. God is not limited in His generosity in any way. To some He gives the grace to intercede, while to others He gives a heart to reach out to the poor and needy. Many pursue the study of Scripture, while others have a gift of healing or discernment. So many differences exist, but one unified truth runs through them all: We are on body built on the tender mercy and love of Christ. And we can stand together to worship the Lord.

Short Prayer: Holy Spirit, come and deliver me from anything that blocks the unity that You desire for Your entire Church. By the power of Jesus’ cross, break down all dividing walls in the body of Christ so that the world may believe! Amen. 

44 posted on 09/30/2012 3:58:23 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
A Christian Pilgrim


Memoria: 30 September 

JEROME (EUSIBIUS HIERONYMUS SOPHRONIUS), the father of the Church most learned in the Sacred Scriptures, was born about the year 342 at Stridon, a small town upon the confines of Pannonia, Dalmatia and Italy, near Aquileia. His father took great care to have his son instructed in religion and in the first principles of letters at home and afterwards sent him to Rome. Jerome had there for tutor the famous pagan grammarian Donatus. He became master of the Latin and Greek tongues (his native language was Illyrian), read the best writers in both languages with great application, and made progress in oratory; but being left without a guide under the discipline of a heathen master he forgot some of the piety which had been instilled into him in his childhood. Jerome went out of this school free indeed from gross vices, but a stranger to a Christian spirit and enslaved to vanity and other weaknesses, as he afterward confessed and bitterly lamented. On the other hand he was baptized there. After some three years in Rome he determined to travel in order to improve his studies and, with his friend Bonosus, he went to Trier. Here it was that the religious spirit with which he was so deeply imbued was awakened, and his heart was entirely converted to God.

In 370 Jerome settled down for a time at Aquileia, where the bishop, St. Valerian, had attracted so many good men that its clergy were famous all over the Western church. With many of these St. Jerome became friendly, and their names appear in his writings.

Already he was beginning to provoke strong opposition, and after two or three years an unspecified conflict broke up the group. Jerome decided to withdraw into some distant country. Bonosus, who had been the companion of his studies and his travels from childhood, went to live on a desert island in the Adriatic. Jerome himself happened to meet a well-known priest of Antioch, Evagrius, at Aquileia, which turned his mind towards the East. With his friends Innocent, Heliodorus and Hylas (a freed slave of St. Melania) he determined to go thither.

St. Jerome arrived in Antioch in 374 and made some stay there. Innocent and Hylas were struck down by illness and died, and Jerome too sickened. In a letter to St. Eustochium he relates that in the heat of fever he fell into a delirium in which he seemed to himself to be arraigned before the judgment-seat of Christ. Being asked who he was, he answered that he was a Christian. “Thou liest”, was the reply, “Thou art a Ciceronian: for where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” This experience had a deep effect on him which was deepened by his meeting with St. Malchus. As a result, St. Jerome withdrew into the wilderness of Chalcis, a barren land to the south-east of Antioch, where he spent four years alone. He suffered much from ill health, and even more from strong temptations of the flesh.

The church of Antioch was at this time disturbed by doctrinal and disciplinary disputes. The monks of the desert of Chalcis vehemently took sides in these disputes and wanted St. Jerome to do the same and to pronounce on the matters of issue. He preferred to stand aloof and be left to himself, but he wrote to Damasus, who had been raised to the papal chair in 366. However, not receiving a speedy answer he sent another letter on the same subject. The answer of Damasus is not extant; but it is certain that he and the West acknowledged Paulinus as bishop of Antioch, and St. Jerome received from his hands the order of priesthood when he finally left the desert of Chalcis. Jerome had no wish to be ordained (he never celebrated the eucharist) and he only consented on the condition that he should not be obliged to serve that or any other church by his ministry: his vocation was to be a monk or recluse. Soon after he want to Constantinople to study the Scriptures under St. Gregory Nazianzen. Upon St. Gregory’s leaving Constantinople in 382, St. Jerome went to Rome with Paulinus of Antioch and St. Epiphanius to attend a council which Damasus held about the schism at Antioch. When the council was over, Pope Damasus detained him and employed him as his secretary; Jerome, indeed, claimed that he spoke through the mouth of Damasus.

Side by side with this official activity he was engaged in fostering and directing the marvelous flowering of asceticism which was taking place among some of the noble ladies of Rome. But when St. Damasus died in 384, and his protection was consequently withdrawn from his secretary, St. Jerome found himself in a very difficult position. In the preceding two years, while impressing all Rome by his personal holiness, learning and honesty, he had also contrived to get himself widely disliked; on the one hand by pagans whom he had fiercely condemned and on the other by people who were offended by the saint’s harsh outspokenness and sarcastic wit. It cannot be a matter of surprise that, however justified his indignation was, his manner of expressing it aroused resentment. His own reputation was attacked with similar vigor; even his simplicity, his walk and smile, the expression of his countenance were found fault with. Neither did the severe virtue of the ladies that were under his direction nor the reservedness of his own behavior protect him from calumny: scandalous gossip was circulated about his relations with St. Paula. He was properly indignant and decided to return to the East, there to seek a quiet retreat. He embarked at Porto in August 385.

At Antioch nine months later he was joined by Paula, Eustochium and the other Roman religious women who had resolved to exile themselves with him in the Holy Land. Soon after arriving at Jerusalem they went to Egypt, to consult with the monks of Nitria, as well as with Didymus, a famous blind teacher in the school of Alexandria. With the help of Paula’s generosity a monastery for men was built near the basilica of the Nativity at Betlehem, together with buildings for three communities of women. St. Jerome himself lived and worked in a large rock-hewn cell near to our Savior’s birthplace, and opened a free school, as well as a hospice.

Here at last were some years of peace. But Jerome could not stand aside and be mute when Christian truth was threatened. At Rome he had composed his book against Helvidius on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Helvidius having maintained that Mary had other children, by St. Joseph, after the birth of Christ. This and certain associated errors were again put forward by one Jovinian. St. Paula’s son-in-law, St. Pammachius, and other laymen were scandalized at his new doctrines, and sent his writings to St. Jerome who in 393 wrote two books against Jovinian. In the first he shows the excellence of virginity embraced for the sake of virtue, which had been denied by Jovinian, and in the second confutes his other errors. This treatise was written in Jerome’s characteristically strong style and certain expressions in it seemed to some persons in Rome harsh and derogatory from the honor due to matrimony; St. Pammachius informed St. Jerome  of the offence which he and many others took at them. Thereupon Jerome wrote his Apology to Pammachius, sometimes called his third book against Jovinian, in a tone that can hardly have given his critics satisfaction. A few years later he had to turn his attention to Vigilantius – Dormantius, sleepy, he calls him – a Gallo-Roman priest who both decried celibacy and condemned the veneration of relics, calling those who paid it idolaters and worshippers of ashes.

From 395 to 400 St. Jerome was engaged in a war against Origenism, which unhappily involved a breach of his twenty-five years friendship with Rufinus. Few writers made more use of Origen’s works and no one seemed a greater admirer of his erudition than St. Jerome; but finding in the East that some had been seduced into grievous errors by the authority of his name and some of his writings he joined St. Epiphanius in warmly opposing the spreading evil. Rufinus, who then lived in a monastery at Jerusalem, had translated many of Origen’s works into Latin and was an enthusiastic upholder of his authority.

St. Augustine was distressed by the resulting quarrel, which, however, he  the more easily understood because he himself became involved in a long controversy with St. Jerome arising out of the exegesis of the second chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. By his first letters he had unintentionally provoked Jerome, and had to use considerable charitable tact to soothe his easily wounded susceptibilities.

Nothing has rendered the name of St. Jerome so famous as his critical labors on the Holy Scriptures. While in Rome under Pope St. Damasus he had revised the gospels and the psalms in the Old Latin version followed by the rest of the New Testament. His new translation from the Hebrew of most of the books of the Old Testament was the work of his years of retreat at Bethlehem, which he undertook at the earnest entreaties of many devout and illustrious friends, and in view of the preference of the original to any version however venerable. He did not translate the books in order, but began by the books of Kings, and took the rest in hand at different times. The psalms he revised again, with the aid of Origen’s Hexapla and the Hebrew text.

In the year 404 a great blow fell on St. Jerome in the death of St. Paula and a few years later in the sacking of Rome by Alaric; many refugees fled into the East. Again towards the end of his life he was obliged to interrupt his studies by an incursion of barbarians, and some time after by the violence and persecution of the Pelagians who sent  a troop of ruffians to Betlehem to assault the monks and nuns who lived there under the direction of St. Jerome, who had opposed them. Some were beaten, and a deacon was killed, and they set fire to the monasteries. In the following year St. Eustochium died and Jerome himself soon followed her: worn out with penance and work his sight and voice failing, his body like a shadow, he died peacefully on September 30, 420. He was buried under the church of the Nativity close to Paula and Eustochium, but his body was removed long after and now lies somewhere in St. Mary Major’s at Rome.

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, You endowed Saint Jerome with a deep reverence for Holy Scripture, which he loved with all his heart. Sustain us ever more with Your word and help us to find in it the source of life in Christ. Amen.

Note: The text is taken from Michael Walsh (Editor), Butler’s Lives of the Saints – New Concise Edition, North Blackburn, Victoria 3130, Australia: Burns and Oates, 1991, pages 307-310. 

45 posted on 09/30/2012 4:00:16 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
A Christian Pilgrim


(A biblical refection on THE 26th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – 30 September, 2012) 

First Reading: Num 11:25-39; Psalms: Ps 19:8,10,12-14; Second Reading: Jas 5:1-6; Gospel Reading: Mk 9:38-43,45,47-48 

The power of a name to sell is seen in the world of marketing. If a bottle of wine has the reputable name of Ernest and Julio Gallo on its label, it will sell. If bottles of beer have the long respected Stroh’s signature, they will sell.

The power of a name to attract is seen in the way names of celebrities are used. If Lee Iacocca’s name appears on a book cover, it will grab our attention. If Bruce Springsteen’s name is on a marquee, it will draw a crowd.

A name also has power to influence. If you get the right name on a letter of reference, you might get a job you’re seeking. If you have the right names to promote some cause, your movement has a better chance to succeed.

The power of the name of Jesus comes up in today’s Gospel. John complains to Jesus that someone not of their group was using our Lord’s name to expel demons. Instead of backing up John’s efforts to stop this man, Jesus seems to approve of such people working miracles in His name, as long as they are doing good works.

In his commentary of Mark’s Gospel, William Barclay points out that in the time of Jesus everyone believed that demons were the cause of all their physical and mental illnesses. A common way to exorcise demons was to use the name of a more powerful spirit. This ancient belief continues in our own day.

In the movie, The Exorcist, the priest called in to expel the demon from the young girl uses the name of Jesus. Healers like Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts and Fr. Ralph DiOrio use the name of Jesus when they pray over people.

Yet, in spite of these contemporary Christian expressions of an ancient religious belief, most of us suffer from a failure in confidence in the power of the name of Jesus. While unbelievers are not ashamed to misuse the name of Jesus in expressions of slang, vulgarity or cursing, believers hesitate to call on the name of Jesus in times of temptation, trial or necessity.

We seem to have lost our nerve, or perhaps even our faith. What we need is a revival of the ancient Christian custom of invoking the name of Jesus in prayer. We need to recall what some of the early Fathers of the Church wrote about the power of that name.

For example, in his classic sermon on the Holy Name, St. Bernard compared the name of Jesus to oil. He wrote: “Oil gives light, nourishes, and anoints. Oil feeds the flame, sustains the body, and eases pain. It is light, food, and medicine. The same may be said of the name of Jesus. It throws light on what is preached, it nourishes our thoughts, and it heals the troubled.”

If names like Gallo Wines and Stroh’s beer move us to buy products, then why shouldn’t the name of Jesus move us to fight racism and defend human rights, or to resist tyranny and support freedom?

If the names of Lee Iacocca and Bruce Springsteen have such power over us, then why shouldn’t the name of Jesus make a stronger impact on our lives – in what we think, in what we say, in what we do?

Invoking the name of Jesus is not a magical trick, and yet miracles have happened in that name. Using the name of Jesus is not a superstitious practice, but rather a sacramental which brings us God’s grace.

Perhaps our Lord’s message today is: “Don’t stop using My name to do good. Use it more so that its power can become more operative in your life.”

Note: Taken from Albert Cylwicki CSB, His Word Resounds, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1991, pages 184-185.

46 posted on 09/30/2012 4:02:00 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Marriage = One Man and One Woman
Til' Death Do Us Part

Daily Marriage Tip for September 30, 2012:

“Whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mk 9:40) Remember, that “us” is more than just family and friends. If others act in accord with the values that Jesus taught, welcome them and learn from them regardless of creed. Who do you know like this?

47 posted on 09/30/2012 4:05:56 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Sunday Scripture Study

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time  -  Cycle B

September 30, 2012

Click here for USCCB readings

Opening Prayer  

First Reading: Numbers 11:25-29

Psalm: 19:8, 10, 12-14

Second Reading: James 5:1-6

Gospel Reading: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

  • This Sunday’s Gospel is a continuation of last week’s reading (Mark 9:30-37).
  • The disciples, rebuked by Jesus in their attempt to claim for themselves a prominent place in his Kingdom, resort to attacking a man who, while not of their own circle, is performing exorcisms in Jesus’ name. Due their own recently failed attempt at this type of healing (Mark 9:14-29), they may have felt a little insecure!
  • Jesus urges tolerance for those who are not opposing him and, in a certain way, honor his name by acknowledging its power. He goes on to relate this to how all of his disciples (the “little ones”) should be treated. He makes it abundantly clear that this is a serious matter with either reward (verse 41)— or dire consequences.
  • Gehenna, or Valley of Hinnom, (to which Jesus refers in verses 43-45) was a small ravine outside of Jerusalem where during Israel’s early history, child sacrifice had been offered to pagan gods, even by one of Israel’s particularly evil kings, Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1-3). In Jesus time, as an unclean place, it was a dump where rubbish burned night and day, and had become proverbial as a metaphor for eternal punishment (Jeremiah 7:30-33).



  • In the First Reading, why do you think young Joshua was “jealous for the sake of Moses”? What do you think was his attitude toward the gifts of God and how God chose to give them? What is your attitude to those who seem unlikely recipients of God’s gifts?
  • Looking at the Second Reading: how have you used your personal resources—such as money, influence, talent, or time—for the benefit of others? How might you seek God’s wisdom to learn how you should use your resources?
  • What does Jesus’ application of the image of Gehenna (and that of Isaiah 66:24) tell you about the seriousness of how he regards the sin of scandal?
  • In verses 43, 45, and 47, what four things does Jesus say are “better” than becoming an occasion of sin (In the Greek, scandalon: literally, a stumbling block) to others? What is his point in using this hyperbole? Short of cutting off body parts, what do you need to cut out of your life in order to avoid sin?
  • How does the attitude Jesus wants us to have regarding rivalry and exclusivism reflect that of John the Baptist (John 3:25-30)? St. Paul (Galatians 5:19-26)? St. James (James 3:13-18)? How does your own attitude compare?

Catechism of the Catholic Church: §§ 1034, 2284-87


Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother’s progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because His servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised.    -St. John Chrysostom

48 posted on 09/30/2012 5:15:43 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Jesus Speaks About Hell
Pastor’s Column
26th Sunday Ordinary Time
September 30, 2012
“Better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.”
                                                            From Mark 9:38-48
          This Sunday’s gospel features one of Jesus’ many teachings about hell. It’s hard to duck this issue when Jesus brings it up so often, though I don’t like to talk or write about it! Suffice it to say that for most Christians, the doctrine of Hell is among the least popular subjects, isn’t it? So let’s face it head on and look into this a bit.
          Jesus actually speaks quite frequently about hell, and often uses the metaphor of “Gehenna” when describing it, but since we are far removed from his time we need a little help to understand this image. Gehenna was a real valley between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Here went all the leftovers from the innumerable animal sacrifices of the Jewish temple. The Jews had built an elaborate pipe system that dumped the left-over blood and guts to the Valley of Gehenna to be burned. This was an ugly place of foul odors and continuous fires… a location one would strive to avoid at all costs. This is the image Jesus uses in conveying what hell is like.
          The gist of Jesus’ teaching is that nothing is more important than getting to heaven. Better to lose an eye or a foot or a hand, or anything else, so long as we don’t lose heaven! Why do we believe in hell? Because Jesus taught it over and over! In fact, he speaks about hell more than heaven (I once had jet lag on a trip and counted all the citations in the gospels because I couldn’t sleep). If we believe in heaven, we must believe in hell! But what is hell, anyway?
          Hell is the absence of God. A soul that habitually lives in mortal sin or that consistently chooses to exclude and hate God from its life has already begun to live in hell. Of course, many situations on earth are more like hell than heaven (think Sept 11), but hell is not just eternal suffering: it is the eternal loss of God. People sometimes will say that a good God could not send anyone to hell—and he doesn’t! The amazing thing is that people can send themselves there when they reject God at the end of their lives.
          How does a soul get to hell? Does God send them there? No, the soul decides this by the choices it makes and the life it leads. Faith, as expressed by our life and acts of repentance, leads to heaven while a life in which a person habitually says “no” to God can lead to that final “no” at the end that excludes God forever. This is not what the Lord wants! He died for us that all might live with him forever! But he also made us free beings: as long as we are on earth, we have the free will to choose or reject God. Otherwise, we would be like a plant or a lower animal—with no real moral choice or conscience. He wants all to be saved but we do have a choice in the matter. Such is the essence of life: we are here to choose heaven or hell, and also our rank in heaven! Remember how Jesus also encourages us in this Sunday’s gospel that anyone who gives even a small cup of water to one of his little ones will not be without a reward! 
          It is hard to grasp why anyone would choose hell instead of heaven at the end of their lives, but if we remember that heaven is moving in with God, moving completely into the light, choosing only goodness, then it may make more sense that a person who has lived their life in darkness and evil may find such a destiny repulsive and turn away.
          Therefore, if a person spent their life in a cave, living in darkness (which means a life of habitual mortal sin, which cuts us off from God), then at death, how painful it would be to move into God’s presence, who is all light! One can imagine the person moving further and further away from the light until their eyes could get adjusted to the brightness of the real world of goodness. If they move back only so far, this would be purgatory, a scripturally-based place where we allow our spiritual eyes to get used to the light of heaven. But some people find God’s light (which illuminates all the unrepentant sins a person has) so painful that they keep on moving away from the light until they reach hell. In other words, they want to be as far away from God (and his goodness and light) as possible, and this is the terrible risk of living in darkness, that we might choose this instead of heaven at the last moment of our lives!
          Who is in hell? The church gives us few details about this: she has never ruled that anyone in particular is there, although we know certainly that the devil and his angels are there: it is their home, which they themselves created through their absolute rejection of God. Many mystics, such as the children of Fatima and St. Faustina, have seen heaven and hell and have testified to its existence, but we are also not called to dwell on numbers or particulars. Instead, we are called to live lives of hope and confidence in God who longs to save us!
          How do we avoid hell? It is very easy: we are to believe in the name of Jesus and to repent of anything that can come between us and him. This is a life-long process. Our faith is renewed day by day and so is our need to repent. Our weaknesses and sins are no obstacle for Jesus, who is attracted to them, so long as we wish to keep trying and to repent (and go to confession as needed) on a regular basis.
          In order to have a real choice as to whether or not to enter heaven, we have to be free to say “no” to God as well. This is not God’s will for us, of course, but the whole point of life is to give us a chance to make a free-choice of faith for God by our words and deeds. Every moment in life is deep with meaning.
                                                                               Father Gary

49 posted on 09/30/2012 5:20:06 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
St. Paul Center blog

To Belong to Christ: Reflections on the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Dr. Scott Hahn on 09.28.12 |

Salvador Jesus 2

Today’s Gospel begins with a scene that recalls a similar moment in the history of Israel, the episode recalled in today’s First Reading. The seventy elders who receive God’s Spirit through Moses prefigure the ministry of the apostles.

Like Joshua in the First Reading, John makes the mistake of presuming that only a select few are inspired and entrusted to carry out God’s plans. The Spirit blows where it wills (see John 3:8), and God desires to bestow His Spirit on all the people of God, in every nation under heaven (see Acts 2:5, 38).

God can and will work mighty deeds through the most unexpected and unlikely people. All of us are called to perform even our most humble tasks, such as giving a cup of water, for the sake of His name and the cause of His kingdom.

John believes he is protecting the purity of the Lord’s name. But, really, he’s only guarding his own privilege and status. It’s telling that the apostles want to shut down the ministry of an exorcist. Authority to drive out demons and unclean spirits was one of the specific powers entrusted to the Twelve (see Mark 3:14–15; 6:7, 13).

Numbers 11:25–29  
Psalm 19:8,10,12–14
James 5:1–6  
Mark 9:38–48

Cleanse me from my unknown faults, we pray in today’s Psalm. Often, like Joshua and John, perhaps without noticing it, we cloak our failings and fears under the guise of our desire to defend Christ or the Church. 

But as Jesus says today, instead of worrying about who is a real Christian and who is not, we should make sure that we ourselves are leading lives worthy of our calling as disciples (see Ephesians 1:4).

Does the advice we give, or the example of our actions, give scandal—causing others to doubt or lose faith? Do we do what we do with mixed motives instead of seeking only the Father’s will? Are we living, as this Sunday’s Epistle warns, for our own luxury and pleasure, and neglecting our neighbors?

We need to keep meditating on His Law, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We need to pray for the grace to detect our failings and to overcome them.

50 posted on 09/30/2012 5:37:50 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Insight Scoop

Demons, Sin, Death, and Damnation

A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for September 30, 2012 | Carl E. Olson

• Num 11:25-29
• Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
• Jas 5:1-6
• Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

What do demons, sin, death, and damnation have in common? An obvious (and correct) answer is that all of them are, put bluntly, bad. They have a certain, even close, relationship to one another. Another answer is that each is a topic usually avoided in conversations around the water cooler and over morning coffee. In fact, they are sometimes given short shrift in homilies and sermons.

But today’s Gospel prominently mentions all four. Needless to say, it is a challenging and difficult reading. Yet it is the sort of passage too often ignored or downplayed, resulting in a skewed understanding of both the mission and message of Christ.

Jesus and his disciples took the existence of demons for granted; they also took them seriously. The discussion in Mark 9 about driving out demons is just one of about seventy references to demons in the New Testament. What is unusual, however, is the context: the disciples were complaining because someone who “does not follow us,” they told Jesus, was performing exorcisms. Jesus reminds them that such a deed can only be performed in his name, and such faith could not come from a foe. Since men can only be for or against him, the benefit of any doubt should go to those who exhibit love for and faith in Christ. In the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, “None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability,” since salvation is a free gift from God.

That expansive explanation of how good done in the name of Christ should be acknowledged is followed by some of the strongest language in the Gospels about avoiding sin. Two terms stand out: scandal and Gehenna. “If your hand causes you to sin”—literally, scandalizes you, “cut it off.” Scandal, the Catechism explains, “is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.” Those who give scandal by words or actions can destroy spiritual life. “Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense” (par. 2284). It is, G. K. Chesterton summarized nicely, “the tripping up of somebody else when he is trying to be good.”

Momentary physical pain cannot be compared to the eternal spiritual torment awaiting those who continue unrepentant in their sins. Gehenna symbolized such torment. It was a steep ravine southwest of Jerusalem where, many centuries before Christ, some Israelites had sacrificed “their sons and daughters to Molech” (Jer. 32:35), a pagan god long associated with such horrors. Gehenna was desecrated eventually by the righteous King Josiah (2 Kngs. 23:10), and became a smoldering garbage dump filled with trash and animal carcasses. Needless to say, it offered a powerful image of an eternal hell filled with undying worms and unquenchable fire.

Speaking of hell is never fashionable or enjoyable. St. John Chrysostom said of this passage: “Ordained as we have been to the ministry of the word, we must cause our hearers discomfort when it is necessary for them to hear. We do this not arbitrarily but under command.”

One of the great sins of our time is the deliberate and self-serving destruction of human life, especially what Pope John Paul II described as “the scandal of abortion.” Such a grave scandal exists because men—even those living in Western democracies—have “lost the ability to make decisions aimed at the common good” (Centesimus annus, 47). Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent encyclical on social doctrine, wrote, “To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity” (Caritas in veritate, 7).

Justice requires every man be held responsible for his sins; it rightly asks each pay for his moral deficits. Yet we are unable. As today’s reading from the Epistle of James makes clear, wealth cannot save us. Nor can power or fame. Salvation from demons, sin, death, and damnation is found only in the name of Jesus Christ, the author of life (Acts 3:15).

(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the September 27, 2009, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)

51 posted on 09/30/2012 5:51:51 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Regnum Christi

Working Together to Build the Kingdom
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father David Daly, LC

Mark 9:39-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ´their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.´"

Introductory Prayer:In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Lord, grant me universal charity so that I will be ready to collaborate with everyone to extend your Kingdom.

1. Unity in Christ: St. John protested that others were “driving out demons” in Christ’s name, but his zealous love for the Master needed purification and balance. Jesus invited John to collaborate with others and to leave his territorial attachments. How many times has this happened to us? Whether it be in our parish or our movement or prayer group, we, too, need to be open to working with everyone who believes in Christ. We need to find points of unity with everyone working in Christ’s name. As Pope Benedict XVI said to the Ecclesial Movements gathered in Rome on the feast of Pentecost: “The whole Church, as Pope John Paul II liked to say, is only one great movement, animated by the Holy Spirit, a river that goes through history to water it with the grace of God and to make her life fruitful in goodness, beauty, justice and peace.”

2. All Men of Good Will: Many of the papal encyclicals are addressed to “all men of good will,” which means every person who lives and is open to living in the truth. Jesus sets this standard for universal apostolic outreach. Charity is the mark of a person of good will. Hence the words of Christ: “Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple--truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42). We, too, must be open to all men and women of good will. When good people witness charity in us, they find themselves attracted to the Church and to Christ. Universal charity is a great way to attract people to the knowledge and love of Christ.

3. The Conversion of Sinners: No one remains outside the reach of God’s redemptive plan, even those who are living sinful lives. It is the compassion of Jesus that leads him to warn us about the evil of sin and the existence of hell. His compassion and universal love for all people drive him to warn his followers that sin must be eradicated from our lives. “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” We too must follow Jesus in universal charity and concern for all people. When people sin they hurt themselves more than others. We need to foster a compassion and genuine concern for the good of souls, and not stoop to correcting others because their actions irritate us.

Conversation with Christ:Lord Jesus, you have saved me from sin. You have called me out of the darkness and into your great light. Help me to follow your example of universal charity. I want to love others as you have loved me!

Resolution: Today I commit myself to making an act of kindness to someone that is outside of my social circle.

52 posted on 09/30/2012 6:00:25 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

True Love of Christ is Love unto Death

Sunday, September 30, 2012 by Food for Thought

FirstReading: Nm 11.25-29
Psalm: Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
SecondReading: Jas 5:1-6
Gospel: Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

If you were listening with both ears to the readings today, you might have regretted being a Christian. To be a Christian is no joke. Are you well off financially? Then it seems you better weep and lament for the miseries that are coming upon you. And if you take our Lord literally, following him is total insanity. Pluck your eyes out?  Cut off your hand or your foot? Would that not be “mutilation” which Christian ethics condemn as immoral? To have a better appreciation of today’s readings, we must first go back to the context.

What did the passage from Mark mean when Jesus made such statements?  One thing we can be sure is that Jesus was not advocating mutilation.  The passage from Mark is graphically Semitic. The point is not so much in the particular part of the human body. To focus on the physical is to risk missing the message.

And what is that message? It is a radical way of saying: “In your journeying to God, you have to be uncompromising against obstacles.”  So, in today’s reading from Mark, “Whatever causes you to sin,” Jesus told his disciples, “whatever replaces God in your life, get rid of it! Whatever the cost – even life itself … let it go!”

This is the spirit of 120 martyrs of China. Eighty-seven of them are Chinese, while 33 others are foreign missionaries. The persecution lasted for over a period of 250 years, in about 11 provinces of China. Most of them were martyred during the Boxer Rebellion. These martyrs included men, women, priests, and deacons, religious, young and old. The oldest was 79 years old, while the youngest was a boy of 7. These martyrs are examples of Christians who took the message of Jesus to heart. They loved Jesus more than anything else in the world, yes, even more than life itself.

Among these martyrs was a 14-year-old girl by the name of Anna Wong.  During the persecution, in the village of Ma-Chuang in Hepei Province, the Christians were herded into one room and given a chance to save their lives by crossing to another room to signify their willingness to renounce their faith. The stepmother brought Anna to the other room to save her. But twice Anna ran back to the room to stand up for her Christian faith, until she was finally beheaded.

After her death, all her relatives were converted to Christianity.  Today she is one of the popular martyrs to whom many miracles have been attributed.

So, this is the message of today’s Gospel: “If you want to be alive with God’s life, now and forever, let no love so possess you so that God and his Christ take second place in your life.”

How does this relate to our Christian faith today? Our spirituality must reflect the mind of Jesus, if not his image for it echoes the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me.” It also echoes what Jesus called “the great commandment” in the law “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

We must carry Christ to the world around us, to the world of our daily life. And you carry Christ by being Christ. That is to be fully human and, by God’s grace, more than human, therefore a
challenge. Concretely, be a man or woman of flesh and blood, but of spirit and imagination as well. Liking who we are, but loving others as much as you love yourself.

Love God above all else and you won’t have to calculate just how you carry Christ to your corner of the world. It will be second nature, as easy as breathing. All you will need is to be yourself, for that self will be Christ.

53 posted on 09/30/2012 6:18:56 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

Scripture Speaks: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, Jesus teaches us about two kinds of separation from Him.  The contrast between them couldn’t be starker.

Gospel (Read Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)

St. Mark tells us about an episode in which someone who was not part of the entourage of Jesus’ disciples was “driving out demons” in His Name.  St. John and the other apostles “tried to prevent him” because of his outsider status.  Isn’t this curious?  We don’t know anything about this person.  Why didn’t he follow Jesus publicly?  How did he have the same kind of authority over demons that Jesus had given His disciples (see Mk 6:7, 12-13)?  We never get any answers to these questions.  All we know is this: “Jesus replied, ‘Do not prevent him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in My Name who can at the same time speak ill of Me.  For whoever is not against us is for us.’”  What a strong statement!  What did Jesus mean?

Although St. John thought it was highly irregular for someone to do a mighty deed in Jesus’ Name without publicly traveling with Him, Jesus saw something more important.  He saw someone who had complete faith in the Name of Jesus to conquer demons.  He saw someone who cared enough about the terrible suffering caused by demonic possession to want to do something about it.  This must have been someone well acquainted with Jesus’ ministry.  Had he personally witnessed an exorcism in His Name?  Had he himself been one of the many, many people in the Gospels whom Jesus delivered from a demon?  These are strong possibilities.  Then why didn’t he travel with the other disciples?  Did he have family responsibilities that prevented him?  Had he seen something in the behavior of the apostles that had soured him on the value of joining this group?  Was his ability to understand the call to radical discipleship compromised by conditions beyond his control?  We don’t know.  We do know that Jesus did not see this man as a threat to His mission.  Jesus was content with the man not being against Him; He was thankful that because the man drove out demons in His Name, he would not, at the same time, speak ill of Him.  Simple actions done for Jesus, such as giving a cup of cold water to His disciple, will, in eternity, be rewarded.  God alone sees the secret intention of the heart; no act of charity goes unnoticed.  And God, alone, decides who is a recipient of His Spirit and His gifts.

Jesus wanted His disciples to be lenient and charitable to those who discipleship was unwittingly incomplete.  However, He had very different words for those who, with full knowledge of what they are doing, sin consciously, especially those in a position (like the disciples) to cause others to follow their example.  That person’s ultimate fate, apart from repentance, is grim indeed—the unquenchable fire of Gehenna, or hell.  So serious is this threat that Jesus exhorts all of us to great vigilance, using Semitic hyperbole to make His point.  If any of our bodily actions (doing, going, seeing) cause us to sin, we are to vigorously mortify it.  Radical self-denial in this life is much better than an eternity spent in radical self-absorption, without God and without hope of repentance.

How ironic that Jesus called for mercy and humility when we think of the failings of others but for startling violence against the sins that bedevil us.

Possible response:  Lord Jesus, I know You want all Christians in Your one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  Help me be charitable toward those who, for whatever reason, remain outside that full communion.

First Readings (Read Num 11:25-29)

Our reading comes from the time when Moses, overwhelmed by the care of so many of God’s people on their journey to the Promised Land, needed help.  God directed him to choose seventy elders of Israel (see Num 11:14-15) upon whom He would pour His Spirit, enabling them to speak God’s word as Moses had done.  They were all to go outside the camp to the “tent of meeting,” which was the place where God and Moses regularly communed.  Apparently, two of the men who were “on the list” didn’t go out to the tent.  Although they remained in the camp, the Spirit fell on them, and they were able to prophesy like the others.  This greatly upset Joshua:  “Moses, my lord, stop them.”  How reminiscent this is of our Gospel scene!  See that Moses, like Jesus, was not bothered about what had happened.  He didn’t ask any questions about why Eldad and Medad hadn’t joined the larger group.  We, however, do wonder about this, don’t we?  These men were among those known to be elders among the people “and officers over them” (see Num 11:16).  Because of that, God had chosen them to be part of His gift of help to Moses.  Would it have been better for them to show respect for and solidarity with Moses by going out with him to the tent?  Yes, of course.  That would have blessed them in their calling.  We don’t know why they didn’t go.  They may have been disappointed in Moses (remember that this was a time of great stress among the people—see Num 11:10).  They may not have thought themselves worthy of such an honor.  So many possibilities!  Moses, however was glad for their ability to help him.  He didn’t want Joshua to be jealous on his behalf:  “Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them all!”  This was no time for fault-finding and nitpicking.  The work of God needed many able bodies.

Many centuries later, Jesus would echo this same sentiment:  “Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Possible response:  Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I have judged those I considered unworthy to receive Your gifts.

Psalm (Read Ps 19:8, 10, 12-14)

After extolling the perfection of God’s Law, the psalmist reflects on the reality that sometimes we commit sin unwittingly—out of ignorance or lack of good examples or a blindness that isn’t willed.  See how he describes this:  “Though Your servant is careful of them [God’s ordinances], very diligent in keeping them, yet who can detect failings?”  We don’t always know when we, ourselves, are missing God’s best in the choices we make, so we certainly aren’t qualified to know that for others.  Our prayer should be, “Cleanse me from my unknown faults!”

On the other hand, we all know our susceptibility to commit the sin we do know is wrong.  Jesus spoke about our need to be on guard against that in the Gospel.  So, for this danger, our prayer should be, “From wanton sin…restrain Your servant; let it not rule over me.”

To live our lives with God requires wisdom, revealed so well in His Word—the Scripture, the sacraments, and the teaching of the Church.  These become our sure path to joy:  “The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.”

Possible response:  The psalm is, itself, a response to our other readings.  Read it again prayerfully to make it your own.

Second Reading (Read Jam 5:1-6)

St. James, a kinsman of the Lord, was the bishop of the Church in Jerusalem.  His flock was largely Jewish Christian converts.  The letter he wrote was addressed to “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion” (see Jam 1:1), which meant that it was directed to Jewish Christians who lived outside of Jerusalem, throughout the Greco-Roman Empire.  We can see in his writing a heavy influence of Old Testament prophetic fire.  Even just a casual reading of Isaiah or Jeremiah or any of the other prophets will show that they minced no words in warning the Jews to repent and live the Covenant God had made with them.

St. James, in our reading, warns against the coming misery for the rich who oppress and exploit the poor.  This was a common failing among Old Testament Jews, and it would be one of those sins that Jesus described in the Gospel as needing radical mortification in order to avoid a disastrous end.   This sin is full of knowledge and intention; no Jew could plead ignorance of it.  St. James’ vivid description of its ultimate punishment helps us understand why Jesus spoke so strongly about not letting sin gain a foothold in us.

Sobering, isn’t it?

Possible response:  Lord Jesus, help me mortify any impulse that wants to make my situation better at the expense of someone else.

54 posted on 09/30/2012 6:20:15 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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This Sunday’s Gospel: The Right Kind of Aggressiveness

Radio talk show hosts make a living on it.  Day after day, they bring before our eyes stupid, unjust and wasteful situations in order to provoke outrage.  We love to listen and get ourselves all worked up.  Our indignation keeps us tuned in, which makes their advertisers happy.

It’s easy to focus on the outrageous things that some government official, or some other nation or some dumb yahoo from the next town is doing.  It’s easy to clamor that this intolerable situation must come to an end now.  For to say this requires little or nothing from us–our demand is that others do something about it, that others mobilize and take action, that others be set straight.

When it comes to confronting our own sinfulness and foolishness, we tend to lose the sense of urgency.  We procrastinate, make excuses, and change the subject.  That’s one of the very points that the Lord makes in this Sunday’s gospel.  “If your hand is your difficulty, cut it off!  Better for you to enter life maimed than to keep both hands and enter Gehenna.”

The Lord is not encouraging self-mutilation here.  He is rather calling for aggressive action, even action that hurts and costs us something precious.  Of course, our hands, feet, and eyes are just bodily organs.  Of themselves, they can’t cause us to sin and damage our relationship with God.  But some places that our feet take us, some things we do with our hands, some things we focus our eyes upon, these are the things that are our problem.  Going to a particular club may not be in itself sinful, but for a particular person, it may be a near occasion of sin.  Every person is a child of God, and nobody is “all bad,” but hanging around with certain children of God may present an occasion of sin to us.

We tend to try to manage it.  “I’ll keep my cable subscription, but just not watch that channel.”  “I’ll keep surfing the web, but just won’t visit that site.”  “I’ll go the club, but stop after two drinks.”

If it works, great.  But when it doesn’t, many of us go on fooling ourselves that it will–the next time.  We keep trying half-measures, avoiding the necessary treatment because it will sting too much, cost too much.

Jesus says to wake up, get real, and take aggressive action.  If the internet is your problem, shut it down.  If TV is your problem, turn it off.  Better you go through life unplugged and offline than spend eternity in Satan’s chat room.

However, to avoid taking aggressive action against our own personal compromises with the devil, we frequently change the subject.  “That miracle can’t be authentic–after all, that faith-healer’s theology is off-base.”  “Who do those Muslims think they are railing against abortion when they tolerate suicide bombers?”  “How dare those liberals uphold Papal social teaching when they disregard the Pope’s liturgical regulations?”  “Those arch-conservatives have no right to talk about the authority of the Council of Trent when they put down Vatican II.”

God is not political.  He will welcome virtuous action by anyone, regardless of how imperfect their doctrine, how flawed their character and who they hang around with.  “Anyone who is not against me is for me.”

Persistently, he brings us back to the real issue, the issue we want to avoid.  He bids us to forget about others’ issues and attend to our own–our own divided hearts, our own hidden hypocrisy, our own little compromises with the devil.

Fortitude, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, is not just about enduring evil and hardship for the sake of doing good.  It is also about taking aggressive action against evil.  If it is uncomfortable, too bad.  If it hurts, so be it.  If we see evil in our lives, we mustn’t tolerate it, make excuses for it, and procrastinate.  We must pounce on it.

55 posted on 09/30/2012 6:21:19 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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One Bread, One Body

One Bread, One Body


<< Sunday, September 30, 2012 >> 26th Sunday Ordinary Time
Numbers 11:25-29
James 5:1-6

View Readings
Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-14
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48



"Moses, my lord, stop them." —Numbers 11:28

John tried to stop a man from driving out demons (Mk 9:38). Jesus told John to stop preventing others from driving out demons even if John had to cut off his hand, amputate his leg, or gouge out his eye (see Mk 9:39, 43-47). John tried to stop the man from expelling demons possibly because he was jealous of a man more powerful than he was. Although we are often jealous, this is usually not the reason we try to stop people from expelling demons today. We do this through secularism, sin, and selfishness.

Secularism operates as if this world is all we need to think of. It denies any practical significance to heaven, eternity, God, or Satan. Expelling demons does not fit in with the secular mentality. So secularists scoff at the mention of driving out demons. If we are refusing to repent of sin, the devil will use that sin to manipulate us into opposing those who oppose him. Finally, if we are self-centered and not Christ-centered, we have no power over the devil, for any authority over him is in Jesus' name, not our name. Therefore, selfish people will avoid dealing with the devil, and selfishly insist on others doing the same.

Are you trying to stop those opposing the devil? Stop yourself instead.

Prayer: Father, the gates of hell cannot prevail against me (Mt 16:18). May I attack them in the name of Jesus.
Promise: "Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them all!" —Nm 11:29
Praise: Praise You, risen Lord! Your law is perfect, refreshing my soul (Ps 19:8). All glory be to You! Alleluia!

56 posted on 09/30/2012 6:26:10 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Americans, pray to end abortion, an evil killer.

57 posted on 09/30/2012 6:28:07 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

58 posted on 10/07/2012 6:44:15 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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