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Contents: Volume 2 - The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 30, 2018


The 26th





1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)






Sun. 26 B

Today's is one of "those" Gospels that some folks just choose to ignore. Certainly it needs some interpretation. More certainly, it needs to be taken seriously.

This Gospel selection has two parts. In the first part, we are told that "whoever is not against us is for us." There is no place in Jesus's eyes for competition among the factions of his time or, in our time, among religions or within religions. Cooperation and service to others, especially the least among us, seem high on Jesus's agenda... are they on ours?

The second part tells us a bit about fire and brimstone, something at which we all recoil just a bit. I have always taken the warning about causing a little one to sin rather seriously. In fact, it is one of those principles that I try to uphold with a passion whether it be about children who are learning or about those new learners to our faith. What is it that we teach and model though? Is it just dogma or better yet, an authentic Christian life style?

Sometimes our efforts simply fall short and other times, well, we are just not even close to modeling our lives on Jesus's. The last part of this passage gives us Jesus's remedy for how to deal with whatever part of our life does not measure up! In more receivable terms, we need to get rid of it, whatever it is... and now!!!

Humans usually do not deal with the "cold turkey" approach very well, but often it is the only way to stop doing something that harms us. It is imperative that we raise our awareness of whatever drags us down to peer over the edge of Gehenna! Serious reflection will provide the nudge we need, not to go over the edge, but to recoil from it... and begin anew through Grace.

Where is it that you stand right now? What must you stop, immediately? What can you begin to do in order to replace that sinful tendency? It is never too late, with the help of Grace, to get back on the right path, the path that Jesus walked before us and now will walk with us.


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Twenty Sixth Sunday of Ordered Time September 30 2018

Numbers 11:25-29; Responsorial Psalm 19; James 5:1-6; Gospel Acclamation John 17:17; Mark 9:36-43, 46, 47-48

As a child and even through young adulthood, my spiritual focus was on me. The attitude formed in me in seminary was that I should constantly look into the mirror of my soul and check to see if my face was clean, my collar straight and clean, and my cassock clean and pressed. Clean seemed to be the operative word. Certainly, there was an attitude of outreach, about saving the world. No one asked me to consider what "saving" meant. It was a given that I should know that. There was confidence I would be saved because I was making certain I was in the one true church. I knew that listening to the Pope, obeying the Rector, and taking care of my duties would get me there. I belonged; I was part of what was right. Those who didn’t belong would be lost. It was up to me to convert all those who didn’t belong to my church and thus bring them to salvation.

It was a comfortable feeling, that knowing I was right and that I belonged to an exclusive club. But it was an illusion. The readings this Sunday remind me of my mind set back then. It was a matter of the haves versus the have-nots. We were among the haves because we were Catholic. Listening to or reading authors not of the Catholic tradition was forbidden. There was an index, a catalogue of forbidden books. One could read such books, use them for research to prove the rightness of our theology but only if given permission by some high authority. We lived in a tight club of spiritual certitude.

Growing up spiritually is difficult. I was still in seminary when Vatican II opened and when it concluded. There was a sense of release from shoes that were too tight, that bound our footsteps and pinched our toes. There was an openness, a fresh air about what the Fathers of the Council discussed, argued about, wrote about, and ultimately taught in the documents they wrote.

They spoke about solidarity. This solidarity insisted that we were all in this life together and that God looked on all his creation and discovered how God loved each person and each molecule of what had been created and what was still being created. There was no exclusive club. There was no room to exploit persons or creation.

They spoke about collegiality. This collegiality included all persons who sought to discover the Wisdom that lived in the world. That Wisdom was the Spirit of God. The lived experience of ordinary laity who looked for and discovered God’s presence in their daily lives added to humanity’s collective understanding of God’s living presence. It was not only scholarly theologians, not only priests, not only bishops, not only cardinals, and not only the Pope who understood and experienced the revelation of God’s love. The growth of doctrine and dogma, the growth of our understanding of the God-Who-Is came just as surely from the collective experience of the People of God living their faith as it did to persons on pedestals. This collegiality began removing class distinctions of persons. Leadership started morphing into servant leadership. Arrogance, pride of office, careerism, clericalism, and haughtiness were dealt a blow. Even so, we still suffer from the hubris of office.

They spoke about subsidiarity. The principle of subsidiarity means that decision making is given to those most affected by specific decisions. Subsidiarity empowers each person by reason of their baptism or by reason of their searching for truth to be stake holders in decisions affecting their lives. Mature business leaders in successful companies realize that operational decisions must be informed by those who do the work. So also those in servant leadership in the church realize the importance of getting "the smell of the sheep on them." Francis, the bishop of Rome understands the necessity of subsidiarity when he condemns careerism and clericalism among those ordained to serve. Bishops and priests who understand the Council spend more time walking where the assembly lives, listening to them, searching for answers to their questions, and collecting the lived experience of the assembly that searches for the living God.

But there remain in our faith communities those who insist like Joshua in our first reading that Medad and Eldad should stop prophesizing. Just so, there are persons even now who believe the church ought to be high on a hill, shining with the prestige of power, the splendor of gold and silver, and a reputation that fails to reflect the sweat and tears of ordinary folk. They believe that being ordinary is demeaning and an affront to the wonder of the Transcendent God. But our God is God not afraid of dirtying his hands. The Son of God was born a human and lived as a human. Jesus accompanies us at banquets as well as when we hang in agony from our crosses. Anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to care understands there are hundreds of thousands of persons working to free persons of what constricts their spirits and kills their bodies. Through their science and acquired skills those non-clerical persons heal, liberate crushed persons from unfounded guilt. Those thousands of good Samaritans educate, create dignity-giving-work, make space in society for the disenfranchised, and struggle mightily to make peace among warring factions. Even in the presence of these People-of-God-without-borders there remain some who join with John in this Sunday’s gospel to ask Jesus for permission to stop the efforts of one releasing persons from the addiction to evil. Even John at this stage in his spiritual development wanted to claim God as his exclusive possession.

What this Sunday’s message should teach us is that God loves all people. He doesn’t segment his creation into the haves and the have-nots. There is no person, Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man, straight or homosexual, democrat or republican, Syrian or American, gang member or hard working woman or man not loved by God. The family fleeing violence, or crushing oppression, or lack of dignity and worth in their home country is loved as much as is the proud, powerful, and wealthy family that controls its destiny.

Here is the sum total of God’s revelation. This is what God says to us. "I love you with an everlasting love. Love me as much as you can and I will lift you up to be with me. Love my creation, my animals, my plants, my rocks, my streams and rivers, and take care of them – make them flourish. You will discover my fingerprints all over the creation that surrounds and supports you. You will discover how thorough is my love, how complete and complex it creates. Love one another without question. In loving another and all others you will discover that I am the living God am present walking with you."

When we understand God’s love for us, we cannot hate, we cannot steal, we cannot manipulate truth for our own sake. The truth of our existence finds its only answer in a loving God. Anyone who would divide us, foment division and discord is not to be trusted, not to be followed, and not to be imitated. Our God is the God who accompanies us, who walks with us with his rod and his staff. If we look, if we love we discover God’s presence.

Carol & Dennis Keller






A Hollywood star of the 1930s and 1940s, Greta Garbo, is famous for saying ‘I want to be alone’. But it’s only human and natural to want to be with other people. Many of us join a group or club for that reason. It may be a group at work, such as a football tipping competition one. It may be a sporting group like a football, cricket, netball, bowls, golf, fishing or tennis club. It may be a social group, e.g. people that get together to play cards. It may be a political party. It may be a church group, such as ‘Passionist Family Groups’. Some of us, in fact, belong to several groups at once.

We join because we want to meet other people, join in the activities of the group and work for the goals of the group. Being with other people widens our horizons and gives us the satisfaction of feeling wanted, accepted and respected. Life in a group, however, can become a problem if the group becomes exclusive, and if its members become either fearful or contemptuous of persons outside the group.

In our gospel today, the apostles are feeling very threatened by a man outside their group who is successfully casting out demons in the name of Jesus. Perhaps they are afraid Jesus will invite him to replace them. But like some selfish child who has more than enough toys but won’t share any, they seek to stop the man in his tracks. But Jesus is much more generous than they. He tells them to let the outsider be: ‘You must not stop him,’ he says, ‘Anyone who is not against us is for us.’

Some of us were brought up to believe that ours is the one and only true Church. The Second Vatican Council did not push that line. While it did assert that our Catholic Church is directly descended from Jesus Christ and the apostles, and while it did assert that our Catholic Church has all the means of salvation – ways of being at right with God - it recognised that Christians in other denominations can be real and genuine followers of Jesus. Just like Catholics! (As the famous Irish writer James Joyce once put it: ‘Here comes everybody!’). Vatican II recognised that through baptism non-Catholic Christians too are joined to the person of Jesus, are members of his body on earth, and are destined to enjoy the company of God for ever in heaven. Just like Catholics!

So, even though we have our differences, some of them quite serious, Vatican II called them ‘brothers and sisters’, not outsiders, and certainly not heretics or impostors. It also recognised that their churches are anything but fakes and shams. Their churches in fact, bring the grace of God - the presence and love of God - to their members. Like the Catholic Church they too are expressions of the Christian church as a whole.

So, while we rightly take pride in all the many good features of our Catholic community, we also recognise and affirm all the good people and all the good deeds that exist in the Anglican, the Uniting, the Baptist, the Pentecostal, and the Lutheran forms of the one Church of Jesus Christ, just to name a few. We do this even as we also pray that we and they will in time become more united in faith, hope and love than we are already.

Another great truth proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council, one that also leads to tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, is that the Spirit of God - the Holy Spirit - influences the minds, hearts and lives of persons in the other great world religions, e.g. the Jewish religion, known as ‘Judaism’. There are people in other world faiths living near us wherever we are. Some, like us, believe in one true God. So, it’s important that we meet them, accept and affirm them, as good people too and as children of God, children of the one Creator who through our human parents has made us all. Like us, they too keep striving to know and live that truth which the Spirit of God keeps making known in our various faith communities.

As Jesus said it so well, ‘the wind (of the Spirit) blows where it pleases’ (John 3:8)!

So, for the continuation of the presence and influence of the Spirit of God among all our communities of faith, let us keep giving praise and thanks to God - their Lord, their King. and ours!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>





Year B: 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Anyone who is not against us is for us."

[Mark 9.43]

For many years I lived in South America in a place where most of the people aren’t Christians. And so it would often happen that many of the people who would come to Mass wouldn’t actually be Catholics. They came because they wanted to feel close to God and they felt that in Church. And also, if we are honest, they came because it was free. In their religion, you had to pay at the door, so they loved the fact that here, you only had to put into a voluntary collection whatever you thought was right. Obviously, because they weren’t Christians, they wouldn’t come to communion, but they would often come up for a blessing.

And this used to happen particularly on the Sunday evening masses. And, because I was newly ordained and not terribly good at saying Mass, they were putting me down for a lot of the Sunday evening masses….

Come to think of it, funny how little has changed, really…

Anyway, I noticed that there was one particular young woman, who would always come to the Sunday evening Mass, and would always sit in the front row in the left. {And, to keep her comfortable, she always brought the holy pictures of her own religion.} But she knew all the responses in the Mass and you could see to look at her that she was a woman of goodness and prayer. But she would never come up to communion, not even for a blessing.

So eventually, I thought to myself, "I have to talk to her and get to know her and find out what’s really going on here." So the next time I said the Sunday evening mass, I waited for her after Mass and, as she was going out, I asked if I could talk to her just for a minute. And I wanted to say to her that, even if she couldn’t take communion, maybe she would like to come for a blessing.

To start with, she didn’t want to tell me - I think she thought that if she told me that she wasn’t a Christian, I might ask her not to come back, but I assured her that that from whatever religion, she was always welcome. And so she said how much she always liked to come to Mass - how it was a place where she could really feel the presence of God.

I asked her to explain. Where did she – as a non-Christian - feel that in the Mass? Was it the Eucharist? The Gospel? Even the homily perhaps?! I asked rather hopefully.

She said: "it’s that bit where everyone touches you and shakes your hand, looks you in the eye and says ‘Peace be with you’... And – you know - they sound like they really mean it! That’s the bit I really love. Because I’m a widow and all week long, I feel alone - and very lonely. But whenever I feel tired and lonely, I remember how it felt to have all those people I don’t know shake my hand and wish me peace. And it makes me feel better for the whole week."

I felt really challenged by that because, like a lot of Catholics, I am sometimes tempted to be careless about the Sign of Peace. It can seem like a mere gesture, a matter of rote, a thing of thoughtless habit. But the moment I heard that, I made myself a promise that whenever I gave a sign of peace, I would always remember what she had said, and I would always do my best. Because I think there is something really beautiful about the fact that a person from another faith finds the presence of God in our church simply and solely because of the quality of our welcome.

Well, you all know the saying, "practice makes perfect"; there may be doctors here who know the expression "see one, do one, teach one". So, just for a moment, I’d like to ask you all to just have a little practice at doing the Sign of Peace. We’ll be coming to the real thing later in the Mass. But now I’d like you just to turn to the person nearest to you…

Take their hand…

Look them in the eyes…

And say from the bottom of your heart, (or the closest you can get): "Peace be with you."

And just notice how it makes you feel.

So, when we do the full Sign of Peace a little later in the Mass, I ask us please to do it carefully and do it right and at least try to look as if we mean it. Because, for all we know, that may be the only love the person we touch will feel all week.

And now, let us stand and profess our faith in the peace and love of God.

Dr Paul O’Reilly,






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