September 12, 2021 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sep 15, 2021 | Fr. Luke, Homilies

September 12, 2021 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”  The question posed to us comes from our 2nd reading today, from the 2nd chapter of the letter of St. James – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

When you express your right to something, you’re making a claim to it, just as if you were telling your sister, “This bowl of cereal is mine.”  A claim is made when you express your right to something that belongs to you, like your medical records or the deed to your home.  People claim dependents and deductions on their taxes.  In court, you could claim you deserve money from an employer who cheated you.  You could even claim you have the ability to juggle chainsaws if you wanted to.  But as with any kind of claim, you’re going to have to back it up.  You are going to have to prove it.

Jesus himself once made a very bold claim.  He claimed that he was the Messiah, the son of God, and he spoke about this openly.  Furthermore, the Scriptures tell us plainly that on the night of Passover, they took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together.  Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, coming on the clouds of heaven.”  For that claim, which was considered outright blasphemy to the Jewish faith because he was equating himself with God, Jesus was accordingly sentenced to death.  And yet, Jesus did not withdraw his claim to Divine Sonship, but faced his adversaries head on.  He embodied the words from our reading from Isaiah today: “Who disputes my right?  Let that man confront me.  See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?” And Jesus wasn’t proven wrong.  Over and against the verdict of the Jewish leaders, God himself backed up his claim by raising Jesus from the dead, proving that he truly is the Son of God.

What is it that we claim about Jesus in turn?  Who do we say that he is?  When the disciples were asked today, “who do you say that I am?” Peter responded correctly, “you are the Christ,” but Peter didn’t quite seem to know what this meant or how he would back up his claim.  Jesus clarifies the situation for him.   If you do believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, then you must prove it by taking up your cross and following after him.  Faith therefore, is not merely a belief or a set of claims, but something that must be lived out and put into action.  Make no mistake, together with our fellow Christian brothers and sisters we believe that we are saved by God’s grace.  But as we’ve already said, when you express your right to something, you’re making a claim to it.  If we claim this is our faith and that we indeed have a right to this grace, if we believe Jesus to be our promised Savior, we would demonstrate the truth of our claim by the example of our life, uniting our endeavors and sufferings even to the cross of Christ.  And so we come upon the letter of James which speaks about a faith that is enlivened by works.  “Faith of itself,” he says, “if it does not have works, is dead and that kind of faith has no power to save.”  It just isn’t enough.  Faith without works doesn’t prove or demonstrate anything.  You would lose your claim.  We need to put our faith into practice.  If you don’t use it, you lose it (2x).  The same is true of a foreign language, your muscles, and many things in life.  There is a danger: we can fall out of grace when we take our faith for granted.

So our readings today are inviting us to take a more active role in our lives of faith.  Now, it should be said that many of us here are indeed already putting faith into practice.  They are the ones who come to Mass regularly and prayer is a way of life for them.  They continue to find ways to grow in their relationship and learn more about Jesus, and so they take advantage of the many faith formation opportunities offered here for every walk of life.  They find ways to practice their faith at home with their families and carry it over into their vocation and life’s work.  They support their parish family with their time, talent, and treasure.  They serve in a liturgical ministry or are involved in the annual clam chowder picnic, or the Knights of Columbus, Forever Young, St. Vincent de Paul, the Daughters of Mary, a faith sharing group or help out the school.  They serve others in Christ’s name and make a difference in the community.  All of this is what it means to be disciple.  It’s no surprise that the Church asks these very things of Godparents or to be a Sponsor for Confirmation because their claims to such an exemplary role is indeed backed up by an active and lively faith, but all of us really, are called to live out these aspects of our faith and demonstrate our understanding of who we believe Jesus to be.

As he did for Peter, James, and John, and for the disciples who followed him, Jesus continues to lead us deeper into what it means to take up our crosses and to follow him more faithfully.  So too, at St. Mary’s during the upcoming year, we will be focusing especially on the theme of “what it means to be a disciple”, so stay tuned.  But it’s enough for now, for today, to first of all examine our lives and see where we are little lax, where we are not living out our faith as we would like, and thus become intentional about practicing those dimensions of our faith that need a little “work.”  In a just a short moment, we will profess our faith as a community together, but more importantly, let us back up our words with our actions so as to validate our claim, that Jesus is the Christ.

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091221.cfm

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 131

    Reading I

    Is 50:5-9a

    The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear;
    and I have not rebelled,
    have not turned back.
    I gave my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
    my face I did not shield
    from buffets and spitting.

    The Lord GOD is my help,
    therefore I am not disgraced;
    I have set my face like flint,
    knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
    He is near who upholds my right;
    if anyone wishes to oppose me,
    let us appear together.
    Who disputes my right?
    Let that man confront me.
    See, the Lord GOD is my help;
    who will prove me wrong?

    Responsorial Psalm

    Ps 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

    1. (9)   I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
      or:
      R.   Alleluia.
      I love the LORD because he has heard
      my voice in supplication,
      Because he has inclined his ear to me
      the day I called.
      R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
      or:
      R.    Alleluia.
      The cords of death encompassed me;
      the snares of the netherworld seized upon me;
      I fell into distress and sorrow,
      And I called upon the name of the LORD,
      “O LORD, save my life!”
      R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
      or:
      R. Alleluia.
      Gracious is the LORD and just;
      yes, our God is merciful.
      The LORD keeps the little ones;
      I was brought low, and he saved me.
      R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
      or:
      R. Alleluia.
      For he has freed my soul from death,
      my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
      I shall walk before the LORD
      in the land of the living.
      R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
      or:
      R. Alleluia.

    Reading II

    Jas 2:14-18

    What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
    if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
    Can that faith save him?
    If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
    and has no food for the day,
    and one of you says to them,
    “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ”
    but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
    what good is it?
    So also faith of itself,
    if it does not have works, is dead.

    Indeed someone might say,
    “You have faith and I have works.”
    Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
    and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

    Alleluia

    Gal 6:14

    1. Alleluia, alleluia.
      May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord
      through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
      R.Alleluia, alleluia.

    Gospel

    Mk 8:27-35

    Jesus and his disciples set out
    for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
    Along the way he asked his disciples,
    “Who do people say that I am?”
    They said in reply,
    “John the Baptist, others Elijah,
    still others one of the prophets.”
    And he asked them,
    “But who do you say that I am?”
    Peter said to him in reply,
    “You are the Christ.”
    Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

    He began to teach them
    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.
    He spoke this openly.
    Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
    At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
    rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
    You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

    He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
    “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.”