SEPTEMBER 5, 2021

TIME AFTER PENTECOST

ISAIAH 35:4-7A; PSALM 146; JAMES 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17; MARK 7:24-37; PSALM 125

James tells us to stop showing favoritism in the assembly, treating the rich visitor with more honor than the poor one. Jesus himself seems to show partiality in his first response to the Syrophoenician women in today’s gospel.  Was he testing her faith in saying Gentiles don’t deserve the goods meant for God’s children? Or was he speaking out of his human worldview, but transcended those limits when she took him by surprise with her reply? Either way, the story tells us that God shows no partiality.  Everyone who brings a need to Jesus is received with equal honor as a child and heir.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2021

TIME AFTER PENTECOST

ISAIAH 50:4-9A; PSALM 116:1-9; JAMES 3:1-12; MARK 8:27-38

Three weeks ago, we heard Peter’s confession of faith as told in John’s gospel.  This week we hear Mark’s version, when Peter says, “You are the Messiah.”  In John, the stumbling block is Jesus’ invitation to eat his flesh, given for the life of the world.  In Mark too the scandal has to do with Jesus’ words about his own coming of death, and here Peter himself stumbles over Jesus’ words.  But Jesus is anointed (the meaning of messiah) in Mark only on the way to the cross (14:3); so we are anointed in baptism with the sign of the cross.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2021

TIME AFTER PENTECOST

JEREMIAH 11:18-20; PSALM 54; JAMES 3:13-4:3, 7-8A, MARK 9:30-37

Today we hear James warn against selfish ambition, while the disciples quarrel over which one of them is the greatest.  Jesus tells them the way to be great is to serve.  Then, to make it concrete, he puts in front of them a flesh-and-blood child.  We are called to welcome the children God puts in front of us, to make room for them in daily interaction, and to give them a place of honor in the assembly.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2021

TIME AFTER PENTECOST

NUMBERS 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29, PSALM 19:7-14; JAMES 5:13-20; MARK 9:38-50

Someone who isn’t part of Jesus’ own circle is casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and the disciples want him stopped.  They appeal to Jesus, as Joshua did to Moses about the elders who prophesied without official authorization.  Like Moses, Jesus refuses to see this as a threat.  Jesus welcomes good being done in his name, even when it is not under his control.  The circle we form around Jesus’ word must be able to value good being done in ways we wouldn’t do it, by people we can’t keep tabs on.