25th Sunday year b
The Letter of James was written by a man known as James the Just who was an early leader of the the Church in Jerusalem. He died a martyr in the late 60’s after being stoned to death by the high priest Ananus. His letter, while written to the whole church, was addressed to his congregation in Jerusalem.
One big theme of James’ letter is that what vices and sins we hold inside of us will always come out in our behaviors one way or another. If we prideful, and we even know we are prideful, no matter how hard we try that pridefulness will come out in our actions one way or another. If we harbor anger towards others no matter how hard we try that anger will effect the way we treat others, and it can effect the way we treat everyone not just those we are angry towards.
If we envy others than we begin to see God as somehow unjust and unfair. Envy causes us to think that we are not getting our do as if having more things or being more esteemed in the world would some how make us happier. Selfishness, where every thing is about my needs and desires ,blinds us to the needs of others and to our seeing the will of God for our own lives.
All of these things destroy the peace within ourselves and that destroys the peace among ourselves.
It is pretty clear, from our second reading, this was apparently a big problem in the early Jerusalem Church. James asks “where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions?
In today’s Gospel some of the Apostles are asking who is the greatest ? In the other Gospels we learn that it is the sons of Zebedee who are asking which of the two them will be the greatest n the Lord’s new Kingdom. The question itself is a good example of jealousy and selfish ambition bring discord among the disciples.
James uses very strong language to get the attention of the Christians in Jerusalem. We too need to listen to the word’s of St James and allow the Holy Spirit to heal the discord within our selves. Discord within ourselves really cannot be hidden, it comes out eventually. We can only
find within and among ourselves by allowing the Holy Spirit to heal and rid us of that discord.
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24th Sunday ordinary time
In Mark’s gospel Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ-the anointed one-the Messiah promised by the prophets.
And then, after peter’s great insight, Jesus describes how he is to suffer greatly, be rejected by the religious leaders of his day, be put to death, and then rise from the dead in three days. This makes no sense to peter, after all shouldn’t God reward those who carry out his will with a prosperous and peaceful life free of pain and suffering? Otherwise what is the point of following God’s will? Peter is, as the Lord says, clearly thinking “as the world does and not as God does.”
Peter fails to see that being one of the Lord’s disciples is about carrying our own crosses and that means suffering. The suffering we and all lord’s disciples go through-be it great or small-that comes from living out our christian lives and proclaiming the good news to our fallen world. It doesn’t mean, as Peter was thinking, that the Lord goes to Jerusalem becomes king and solves all of Israels problems or all of our problems we face in our time.
Being one of the lord’s disciples means, as Peter would learn, means a life giving renunciation of ourselves and our own will for own lives. Being a disciple entails a dying to self and making ourselves a gift of love to the lord and all his children so that we can grow in Holiness so that others can see and hear the good news and share in the eternal life that we have with our resurrected and risen Lord. Suffering and death is not what Peter had in mind but he did learn and became one of the Lord’s greatest disciples. Peter learned that his life and the life of all those who follow him will unfold as the Lord’s life unfolded. We like the twelve must also be prepared to suffer to suffer greatly if we are called to do so, to be rejected because of our faith and to walk with the Lord with our own crosses proclaiming the hope that we too will be raised up and live on with the lord for eternity.
Saving ones life could mean wanting to be healed of some physical or mental condition and it could also mean wanting to preserve a safe and pleasant way of living and all of those are good things to pray for-for ourselves and others but the lord is saying to Peter and to all of us the the unique and defining call we have as the Lord’s disciples is that our calling to live out and spread the gospel supersedes our own desires and wishes even unto death. We like the Lord’s disciples must be willing to give up our own lives and make the Lord’s mission our mission. We are always first and foremost the Lord’s disciples and no suffering, no trials, can change that. We are, as St Paul says “to endure all things for the sake of Christ.”