Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
September 12 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 50:5-9a | Psalm 116:1-5;8-9
James 2:14-18 | Mark 8:27-35
In this name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Today’s Gospel is one of the most challenging ones for me, and that’s probably why Father David always seems to assign it to me (as he did last year!)
Shortly after Peter, the most beloved disciple, declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus tells us that “the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and rise after three days.” Peter becomes upset and tells Jesus that if this is going to happen to the Messiah of God, it will be the end of the world. And Jesus abruptly says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.”
Can you comprehend that? After Jesus appointed Peter the leader of the disciples, He essentially tells him, You are Satan!”
There’s a story about a little girl who ran home to her family completely out of breath with excitement about a church where the Sacred Heart of Jesus had actual blood flowing from the heart. As the word of this spread among the community, soon the church was so crowded with curious people that others could not get in. The Sunday Masses were overflowing. But then they discovered a leak from the roof had fallen on the red paint of the heart of the statue and caused what seemed to be blood to flow. Once this became known, the church emptied as quickly as it had filled up!
Why is it that people expect to see miracles before coming to church? Why is it that although many people are exuberant and feel bonded with Jesus after the Sacrament of baptism, they do not appear again at Mass until Christmas or Easter?
Our overall society today is very self-centered. I remember when I was in my sales career, I attended a sales motivational seminar that taught a theme of “WIIFM” or “What’s in it for me?” The first time I was forced into attending was while present at a sales meeting when I worked for a Fortune 500 company in 1990 in Houston. This company eventually went out of business but while I was employed there for over three years, they enacted three reorganizations., each one cutting the commissions of the salesforce, so they received less pay in order for the corporation to have higher profits.
The second time I attended this seminar was while I worked at a proprietary college in Anaheim in 2000. This company also went out of business in 2016 due to its fraudulent practices of falsifying the employment and earning potentials of graduates. And the third time I again had the misfortune of attending was on a Sunday morning while I worked again at a proprietary college here in the Coachella Valley in 2010. This company is still in business at a much-reduced capacity but continues to mislead investors and applicants.
There are also a couple of recent notorious cases involving corporate greed: the Sackler family who made billions from Oxycinton after killing over one half a million people won immunity from opioid lawsuits just this month and Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former C-E-O of biotech Theranos is charged with fraud and inaccurate lab results for 176,00 and counting consumers. She is currently on trial in San Jose, California.
It is unbelievable how the abysmal greed of corporate America has changed our values and our country for the worse!
We need to remember that the Lord gave all of us unique talents and gifts to use in different kinds of service: some of us were given musical talents like Raul and Natalya, some of us were given leadership and administrative talents, such as Fr. David and Julie, some of us have been given stewardship talents in serving and maintaining the church, such as Pedro, Regina, Barbara, and Otillio.
Once we realize that it is through serving others that we are serving God and this is the greatest form of charity. Developing humility is a choice that takes effort. And as we humble ourselves and do away with pride and selfishness, it will increase our desire to serve God and all His people.
Our first reading today from Isaiah is one of the four Servant Songs. The protagonist in these texts is a nameless servant whom scholars have identified as either an individual or Israel, collectively. This particular Servant Song tells of the rewards of being faithful to the Lord although there will be suffering.
In our second reading from James, we are challenged to be true Christians. “Faith without good work is useless.” We need to attain generous and charitable hearts in order to achieve miracles for others.
A central aspect of the teaching of the book of James is the proper treatment of the poor. James warns that the wealthy ought not to treat the poor with contempt and offers a condemnation of the wealthy who store up treasure on earth. The rich should be giving to the poor and helping those in need while the poor should be doing all they can to help each other and seek work for those who are able to do so. The rich and the poor should both be helping others, not just the rich helping the poor or the poor working hard for the rich. The poor should not aspire to be rich and the rich should not feel superior to others including the poor.
In our Gospel from Mark, Jesus confirms the prophecy of Isaiah but is interrupted by Peter. As the Suffering Servant and Messiah, Jesus saw His mission as redeeming humanity through His own suffering and death.
But since Peter did not understand this, and he did not believe that Jesus could or would allow himself to be killed, Peter interrupted Jesus. Peter was upset about what he would lose if Jesus were to die.
In his reaction, Peter was used by Satan in an attempt to oppose God’s will.
Many of us, like Peter, do not want to face the realities of life. We try to ignore them, deny them, and try to act as if there are no problems or difficulties facing us in our lives.
We attempt to run away from our cross instead of accepting it and relying on the grace of God to help us through our difficult, trying times.
By Jesus carrying His cross and dying on it He showed His love, His charity, and His generosity. This was faith in action for all of us and Jesus wants us all to follow His example of a generous and charitable heart.
Jesus tells us:
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel, will save it.”