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Twenty Fourth Sunday of Year B

Sunday, 13 September, 2015
Mark 8:27-35

‘Anyone who sets out to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they roll more stones onto his path’ (Albert Schweitzer). Some time ago I attended a seminar which discussed the causes of suicide among young people. One of the speakers identified three main causes that lead to a culture of death. They were a sense of isolation and loneliness, a loss of hope, a lack of something that would inspire self-sacrifice. From today’s gospel we can see how Jesus promotes a culture of life. He fosters a sense of community and of belonging. He nurtures hope. He invites his disciples into commitment to him that inspires self-giving, self-sacrifice.

We all have our dreams and we need them to keep us fully alive and focused. In a piece which she calls ‘My dream Church’ Eleonore Beck sets out her vision.
My dream is for community where people set free by the gospel can meet in
freedom and without pretensions … where they can speak words that come from
the heart …The kind of community I dream of is one where the least are regarded as the greatest, where the lost are treated as found, where the first sits with the last, where the liveliest walks with the one who is lame, where children are allowed to have fun and be loud, where the young have a care for the old and the old have a care for thee young; this is togetherness where hope is shared like bread that nourishes. This is my dream Church.

Jesus invited his followers into community with him and with one another where they could be honest and without masks, caring in their listening to one another. He continues to draw his disciples into a community where each offers support, where the shared burden is only half as heavy.

The hope he offers takes many forms. When the late Cardinal Hume was told that he had a serious form of cancer his first action was to go into the chapel spend half an hour in prayer. Closeness to Jesus assured him that beyond the darkness of illness the light that God gives awaited him. A priest friend who went to visit him in hospital tells how he travelled by taxi and when the taxi driver discovered where the priest was going he declined to take his taxi fare. He had seen the Cardinal on television several times. For him the Cardinal’s prayerful presence had become a powerful source of hope and a reason for foregoing his taxi fare. He had his reward already. In sacrificing his money for the sake of the gospel he was revealing that he had found a greater treasure. He had discovered ‘the one thing necessary’ (Luke 10:42), namely, faith in Jesus as the Messiah sent by God, a serious commitment to him and a willingness to pay the price that such commitment involves. Jesus proclaims a culture of life. What he offers us is more than enough to fill the vacuum that often leads to a culture of death.

 

For prayer: 

What is my dream Church, my dream community ?