24 Sep – Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Christ, The Son of God
We worship the Son of God, the wisdom that came down from above and became the servant of men.
– The Sunday Missal
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
The godless say to themselves,
“Let us lie in wait for the virtuous men, since he annoys us
and opposes our way of life,
reproaches us for our breaches of the law
and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.
Let us see if what he says is true,
let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take part
and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture,
and thus explore this gentleness of his
and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death
since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.”
James 3:16 – 4:3
Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done; whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it also makes for peace, and is kindly and considerate; it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. Peacemakers, when they work for peace, sow the seeds which will bear fruit in holiness.
Where do these wards and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray and don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires.
After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he as instructing his disciples; he was telling them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hand of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, “Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
The biggest news in the Catholic Church this week has been that concerning the pope’s apparent mistake during his lecture at the University of Regensburg. Even in the secular newspapers, we see 3-4 articles on it almost everyday. Among our Catholic circles, and even among other Christians and Muslims, this is a big topic.
In the course of the week, I have seen several emails flying back and forth, but the one that left the biggest impact on me was one supposedly from a Catholic, who seemed very happy that the Catholic Church is going through these. He wrote that he found it “interesting to see how Rome wriggles out of this one”.
As I read today’s first reading, I can’t help but think of the sender of this particular email, because there are many around the world like him who carefully watch influential Christians, patiently waiting for them to make a mistake and then pounce on them and say, “See! This man helped others, now let him help himself!” (cf. Luke 22:35)
Around the world there have been Islam extremists who did the same too, threatening violence against churches and Catholics, and the pope himself. But the media tends to sensationalize the issue and it drowns out the voices of other Muslims who wholeheartedly agree with what the pope said in his lecture at the university.
When the pope realized that his words had made such a big impact among the Muslim community around the world, he didn’t say, “I said nothing wrong. I have nothing to apologize for.” I was deeply impressed that he came out and personally apologized for the reactions caused by his words. That certainly took great humility.
The pope did not have to do it, but he did it. He did it not because he was caving to external pressure or because he feared a violent backlash. He did it out of humility and as his position of Servant of Servants. He served the world’s Muslims by providing them the apology that they asked for.
This call to humility is not just reserved to the pope. As Brother Michael Broughton writes in this issue of the Catholic News, “All Catholics should be prepared to imitate the example of our spiritual leader and humbly apologize and express the pope’s regret that his illustration should have caused such upset among Muslims, something that was never his intent.”
Now that the pope has apologized, many Muslim leaders around the world have accepted this apology, and they have begun to take a closer look at what Pope Benedict really meant, if he didn’t intend to offend them. In so doing, this has led the Catholic Church, interestingly, to dialogue with Muslims at a meeting on Monday.
However, there are still those who continue to promise violence against the pope, saying that his apology is insufficient and calling for a full retraction of his words. This disharmony does not come from the pope’s “incitement”, but is a disharmony that reflects the inner state of these people, mainly extremists.
The Muslims who have responded positively to the pope’s invitation to dialogue are truly peacemakers, working for peace. Just as the pope has displayed great humility in apologizing, these Muslims too have displayed great humility in accepted his apology. As Catholics, let us indeed follow the exemplary display of humility given to us by our spiritual leader, and continue to work for peace and holiness in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Dear Jesus, we ask you to send your Holy Spirit to inspire and guide our world leaders, that they may always work towards peace, both in their own countries and in the world. Help each of us to realize that if we truly desire world peace, we must start where we are, finding peace within ourselves, and letting that peace, a peace that only you can give, radiate outwards and bear fruit in holiness. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: An example in humility.
Mon, 25 Sep – Proverbs 3:27-34; Luke 8:16-18
Tue, 26 Sep – Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13; Luke 8:19-21; Memorial for Sts. Cosmas and Damian, martyrs
Wed, 27 Sep – Proverbs 30:5-9; Luke 9:1-6; Memorial for St. Vincent de Paul, priest, religious founder
Thu, 28 Sep – Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Luke 9:7-9; Memorial for St. Wenceslaus, martyr / Memorial for St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, martyrs
Fri, 29 Sep – Daniel 7:9-10, 13, 14 or Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:47-51; Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael, archangels
Sat, 30 Sep – Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:8; Luke 9:43b-45; Memorial for St. Jerome, priest and doctor
Sun, 1 Oct – Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48; Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.