Working For Peace And Harmony
Readings: 1st: Wis 2: 12.17-20; Ps 53; 2nd: Jam 3: 16-4, 3; Gos: Mk 9: 30-37
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this twenty-fifth Sunday of ordinary time, we exalt Jesus Christ, the son of God. He is the wisdom that came down from heaven to serve humanity. The church invites us to listen to him and follow his example by living an orderly and peaceful life.
Today’s first reading is fulfilled in the life of Christ. First, it points to Christ, the Son of God, who was put to death by jealous and wicked people. As a righteous man, Jesus reprimanded and condemned the ambitious Pharisees and scribes of his time. So, they took offense and persecuted and crucified Christ.
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This reading is also fulfilled in the life of all who suffer unjust persecutions today for being right and just. Like Christ, sometimes, we are persecuted by our enemies and even by our friends for being just. However, we must remain steadfast because God will surely vindicate us as he vindicated Christ.
Our second reading reminds us of the importance of focusing sincerely on the things that unite us rather than on the ones that divide us. We all desire a harmonious life, yet many Christian communities, families, and homes live in frequent conflicts and disorder.
As much as conflicts are inevitable in life, we must not allow them to tear us apart. Sadly, the root of most of such disputes is selfish ambitions. So, James admonishes us not to let selfish ambitions destroy our relationships, families, and communities.
James asks us: “Where do all these battles between you first start. Is it not precisely in the desires fighting inside yourselves? You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so, you fight to get your way by force” Of course, many families, marriages, communities, and nations have already been destroyed because of selfish ambitions or desires.
In today’s gospel, Jesus foretells his imminent suffering, death, and resurrection. Unfortunately, instead of reflecting on what Christ was saying, his disciples were busy quarreling secretly over who was the greatest. Of course, their argument was aimed at the earthly government they imagined that Christ had come to establish. Like the community that James wrote to, Jesus’ disciples were experiencing a conflict of interest.
We often see this in any society, church, family, and anywhere that personal ambition is considered more important than anything else. There, we see in-fighting, gossips, indifference, aggression, threats to lives and properties, hatred, and all sorts of vices. All these come at the expense of the common good and peaceful coexistence. Wherever these exist, there can be no progress, prosperity, and peace.
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Therefore, by using a child as an example for us today, Jesus is only teaching us that we have to become like children to be great. Of course, this does not mean being childish. Instead, it means being child-like. It means that we have to live our lives in humble service to God and one another.
Finally, to be great is to be focused on something other than oneself. It means our ability to accommodate, welcome, and work in harmony with others, just as children always do. It also means the readiness to accept the truth and to reflect positively on it.
Peace be with you!