25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 9/19/21
In today’s gospel, from Mark Chapter 9, Jesus speaks about his own
rejection, torture, and shameful death. True discipleship, he says, is
concerned not with status but with service to the poor and with justice
and peace. Our fiscal year started on July 1 and during this twelve
months, as a parish we are going to increase our efforts to serve the poor
in Fort Pierce. In the past we have done a lot through donations to St.
Vincent de Paul, Sarah’s Kitchen, the Pregnancy Care Center, and our
Thrift Shop, but I think we should do more through increasing our hours of
volunteer services to the poor. A couple weeks ago, I spoke about St.
Vincent de Paul needing volunteers and we actually had a couple people
call them and volunteer.
This week, I want to mention our desperate need to get volunteers
for the Thrift Shop. It is located at 517 Georgia Avenue in the Dollar Tree
Plaza, just off US1 and if you look on the back of the bulletin there is an
ad with their phone number and hours. Recently we have had times when
we had to close the store because of a lack of volunteers. Terri Snow and
the other volunteers that we have, have done a great job to keep the
store open, but they need help. I ask that you please consider
volunteering to help in the store. Doing so would do what Jesus is asking
us to do, to serve the poor in that area. If you cannot volunteer, then
consider shopping there or donating used items to support the poor.
Thank you for considering supporting this ministry.
Speaking of the bulletin, there is another idea for serving the poor
on page 1 inside. That is to donate bicycles that are new or used to St.
Vincent DePaul for use by the poor and the homeless. If you have one
that is in working order and just sitting around, please call them to
arrange for donation. Bicycles are the only mode of transportation for
many of our poor neighbors, and they need them.
Also, for those of you who have businesses, you can support St Mark
by placing an ad on the back of the bulletin. These ads help us to provide
the bulletin at no cost to the church. Thank you to those parishioners who
Now, back to the Gospel. What do we make of Jesus’ telling the
apostles that they need to look at their lives in terms of a child? The
contrast has an exact point: it isn’t that children are totally innocent and
always wonderful. Rather, children experience life with an openness that
adults should mirror in their lives. Children experience life without
Ever since Jesus began to announce his destiny, that he would be
rejected, tortured, and executed in Jerusalem, his disciples have been
doing their calculations. They still do not have the basic point, that the
essence of Jesus’ life is selfless service, his willingness to give himself for
the sake of others. Rather, immediately after reiterating his destiny, we
find the disciples arguing about who among them would be the greatest.
They don’t have in their heads the picture Jesus has. For them,
following Jesus has been a way to get ahead, possibly even to have
political power in a kingdom. Jesus knows that it is exactly the political
powers that be who will be the instruments of his death, the leaders in
Jerusalem and the occupation leaders of that time, the Romans. They are
making their own calculations.
Jesus wants us like children because children accept life as it
comes, often with joy and laughter. The second reading echoes this when
it talks about the good gifts that are showered upon us by a loving God.
They come from a heaven of goodness, and they can be received only in
an attitude of grace, an attitude, that is, of receiving gifts as surprises,
as unexpected favors, which come to us from God’s generosity. These are
the gifts we share when we volunteer to serve our poor neighbors.
Volunteering is in itself a type of charity. If you are on a fixed income and
cannot afford to give to charity, then a great alternative gift is that of
your time. Many of you here today do both and we are thankful for that.
This is the fundamental Christian attitude, often summed up by the
word “stewardship,” a profound awareness of the grace-filled gifts we
receive, a profound gratitude, and a subsequent living of our lives in a
generous freedom with our God Given Gifts.
A child’s face before a birthday cake, kids at an amusement park,
children playing in the water for the first time. This is the freedom and
openness that we are called to have.
What limits our lives are not the possessions and power that we feel
we don’t have; what truly limits us is the loss of freedom and
spontaneity, that automatic joy that should be part of every life. COVID
19 has tried to steal our joy, but don’t let that happen.
The test of Jesus’ vision will come soon enough, whether he can
accept even death and apparent defeat, with the openness and trust he is
trying to teach his apostles, and us. Jesus knows well the calculations of
the wicked; our first reading shows exactly the logic of trying to
dominate life by power and trying to maintain power by destroying
others, especially the weak and innocent.
When Jesus’ accepts his destiny, he teaches us one of the greatest
lessons: in the end, it’s not the calculating and power-hungry who win.
Rather, only those whose hearts are open and trusting, like the hearts of
children, really know the meaning of life and the joy that such a life