Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (12 Sept. 2021)

Isaiah 50: 5-9, Psalm 114(116):1-6,8-9, James 2:14-18, Mark 8:27-35

Today’s readings are uncannily apt for the times in which we live – the mystery of so much suffering throughout the world, the demands made on our faith, the challenge of our response. On a first reading of the Gospel the description of Peter “speaking up” is a so much more evocative than merely ‘”answering” a question. It implies a courageous standing up, standing out, for what he believes. Yes, he did not always do that, but here showed what he could do, and then followed this by remonstrating with Christ regarding the sufferings ahead of him.  Impulsive perhaps, but sincere.  Christ’s answer about Peter’s, and our, way of thinking, that is so different from God’s, is what challenges our faith, as well as our hope and our charity.

The first reading, from Isaiah, paints a picture that is so contrary to usual human reactions. But faith that the Lord is always going to come to the aid of the person who is suffering is repeated in the psalm: the Lord is gracious and just, has compassion, will bring us to walk in his ways.

St James is very explicit about the visible living out of that faith and hope: the necessity of good works. And there are plenty of opportunities for all kinds of good works, small and great, in this pandemic-struck world, in this world of need, of war, of misunderstanding, of injustice.  

Our problem frequently is ”where do I start?” The specifics of following the Gospel message in our time will differ from those in other years, but in “Let us Dream” Pope Francis challenges us to be practical. In the words of the old prayer, “I am only one…………I cannot do everything, but I can do something……and will, by the grace of God”, I can speak up for justice, for peace, for refugees, for the care of the earth. I can look at my own life, and adjust in small ways to achieve small things. At the end of “Let us Dream” there is a poem written by Alexis Valdës from Cuba. I quote some verses from “Hope”:

And then we’ll remember

    all that we lost

    and finally learn

everything we never learned.

And we’ll envy no one

 for all of us have suffered

   and we’ll not be idle

 but more compassionate.

And all will become a miracle

And all will become a legacy

And we’ll respect the life,

   the life we have gained.

When the storm passes

I ask you Lord, in shame

  That you return us better,

 as you once dreamed us.


Sr. Lucina Montague OP 



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