Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
In this world of competition people always talk about winning: being and doing better than the other; about their own glory: ecstatic that everyone talks about how good they are and that they are looked up to. They want to talk about their power: making things happen the way they want them to happen and how people follow or imitate them. They love to talk about what they know and boast about the places they’ve seen. But St. James says, “the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace” (Jas 3:17-18).
Because there is no peace in us we justify ourselves even to our enjoyment:
– When we eat too much, we say that we are just very hungry.
– When we buy an expensive car, we say that it’s a necessity.
– When we answer back our parents, we say they’re unfair.
– When we show disrespect or shout at a neighbor, we say that he
needs a jolt.
– When we talk against a person, we say that it’s true and that he
doesn’t hear it anyway.
– When we fall asleep in prayer or easily get distracted, or when we skip mass on a Sunday, we say that we were too tired and have been working hard.
– When we spend so much time before a television, we say the show is
nice and good for relaxation.
– When we cannot visit a sick relative or friend, we say “we’re busy or
his house is too far.”
– When couples fall out of fidelity in marriage, they say “it’s normal” or
“it just happened.”
– When a married person is confronted that he/she has not told his/her spouse “I love you,” for a long time, he/she says, “he/she knows that already.”
– When we sin, we say, “everybody does it” or “we’re just human.”
– When we fall or fail, we blame somebody else.
We presume too much. And it is in these little things that turmoil within ourselves and misunderstanding in the family and community start. We cannot look at ourselves in front of a mirror. We look for things, events and people to blame for our weaknesses and failures. But there is no justification for any excess, disrespect, indifference, lethargy, infidelity or disregard of time for God. We are mere servants, and we have to do what we have to do. We fully know that transgression against man and creation is transgression against God. St. James says: “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice…. Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (Jas 4:1-3).
The disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about. They could not understand that He would die and rise again on the third day. They could only talk about what they thought was important among themselves. They did not understand that for Jesus suffering would be their strength and His death would be their life and salvation. For Jesus, obedience to the Father was His way to set His people free, free from the slavery of oppression, of vices and of sin.
The way to wisdom and peace is to understand what Jesus is saying: a) to wage war against our own passions that stir trouble in our hearts, in our families and in our communities; and b) to seek the ways of Jesus, the way of humility and suffering, with full trust in God and confidence in His people, genuinely seeking the common good. This is God’s glory.
The Eucharist we celebrate is our strength in this world that offers only fleeting glory and momentary pleasures. The Eucharist is our life and our way to the fullness of the love of God and the joy of being able to serve as Jesus served.
Let us then renew our commitment to follow Jesus in prayer, in the Eucharist and in the other sacraments, in our daily responsibilities and relationships, and especially in responding to the cry of the needy.