September 22nd - 2019
The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!
"When will the new moon be over," you ask, “that we may sell our grain,
and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah,
add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!"
(from Amos 8:4-7)
Pondering the Word…
Recently, pharmaceutical companies have been sued due to marketing practices
that helped fuel the global opioid crisis. A similar thing happening with
tobacco companies several years ago, and with the home mortgage industry because
of unscrupulous lending practices. The root of all these problems is the drive
for record profits, shareholder returns, commissions, high salaries and
bonuses…, i.e., the almighty dollar.
Some market analysts will say to those filing these lawsuits:
Beware; that it is not up to companies, industries, or the government to police
decisions consumers make about the products and services they choose to
purchase; that if there is a buyer who wants a product, then a seller should be
able to sell it. This is a basic tenet of capitalism, and at its best, can
inspire innovation and growth and an enhanced quality of life. Many people,
including myself, benefit daily from the fruits of this system.
as we hear in the Old Testament reading, there were, are, and always will be
those who take advantage of the system by targeting the young, the elderly, the
poor, the uneducated, the mentally and physically ill. Yes, there are charlatans
whose methods are as blatant as “fixing scales,” but we all fall for subtle
messages honed to make us desire the newest gadget, the miracle face cream, or
the latest fast food.
marketing is harmless, but frankly, some is not. The marketing of some
“respectable” companies is wrong; they are modern-day versions of the greedy
sellers of old. “Never will I forget a thing they have done,” says the
one, true Almighty God! “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
Living the Word…
I have not paid enough attention to companies from which I buy products. I need
to rectify this by evaluating their human resource, marketing, and lobbying
efforts, and communicating with the ones whose values either align or conflict
with my values (and changing my buying habits accordingly). Those blessed with
adequate financial resources are called by our Christian faith to step up to the
social responsibility of looking out for those being taken advantage of by
harmful marketing and sales practices. Don’t think for a minute the prophet Amos
and Jesus were speaking just to the people of their times; the message is the
same for us, and perhaps even more critical. Reflect on this, discuss it as a
family, and consider what you are called to do.
All their neighbors gave them help in every way, with silver, gold, goods,
and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings.
This is an amazing image. The Jews are exiles, captives in Babylon, and are now
being allowed to go back to their home. They have no idea what they will find
when they get there. Is the land parched and spent? Will it be arable? How will
they survive? Well, they will survive and flourish through the generosity of
their neighbors and the largesse of King Cyrus. They are overjoyed to be going
home, as I imagine most exiles and refugees would be. It makes me reflect on the
current refugee crises throughout the world. It makes me think of the Dalai
Lama’s words about how important it is that we find a way to support people so
they can return to their homelands. I ask myself, “Would I ever be as generous
at the Jews’ neighbors were with them?”
He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish
to see you." He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who
hear the word of God and act on it."
the scandal! Jewish sons never dismiss their mothers. To ignore one’s own family
is outrageous. I see Mary walking away. We don’t hear that she “pondered” this
episode, but my guess is that she filed Jesus’ words away in her heart,
alongside the other words: “I need to be about my father’s business;” and
“a sword will pierce your heart.” She stored all of these events in a
file labeled: “Let it be done to me, according to your word. “
nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.”
‘Take nothing for the journey, neither cell phone, nor computer, not chargers,
nor cash, and let no one take a credit card.’ What are you left with? What will
you do? There are so many things that weigh us down on our mission to proclaim
the Kingdom of God. Jesus is not saying there was anything wrong with walking
sticks or money, or cell phones for that matter. He is telling his disciples
that when it comes to God’s Kingdom, we must rely on faith and the Spirit. Good
advice for those who spend their days proclaiming the good news.
But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such
things?” And he kept trying to see him.”
sounds vaguely familiar. We hear in Mark 6:20 that Herod “liked to listen to”
John the Baptist. Herod is intrigued by these holy men who are courageous,
righteous, moral, truthful—men very different from him but maybe the type of man
he longed to be. Perhaps you’ve encountered someone whose example you yearn to
know more about, someone after whom you’d like to model your life. Perhaps that
person is Jesus. You are intrigued, but intimidated. You are too set in your
ways, too wrapped up in the trappings of your current life to think you could
ever change. Don’t ignore these little nudges of the Spirit. Don’t allow the
perception of your own weakness keep you from becoming the person you want to
“Take courage, all you people of the land, and work! ...My spirit continues in
your midst; do not fear!
God is encouraging the people to persevere as they rebuild the temple. Today is
the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul, a tireless worker for the poor and the
patron saint of volunteers. It is easy for those who work in outreach
ministries to burn out. The fruits are our labors are often not seen, not
appreciated, and seem to make no difference. It’s then we need to hear God’s
voice: “Be courageous and work; do not fear; my spirit is with you.” We are not
messiahs, we are not saviors. We are God’s workers and it’s essential for our
own spirits that we allow God to rebuild through us.
Jesus said to his disciples, "Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of
Man is to be handed over to men."
But they did not understand this saying…
I wonder if I would have understood what Jesus was saying. I wonder if I really
understand it now. Do I pay attention to what Jesus is telling me?
There’s so much I take for granted, so much I take on faith—which of course is
good and necessary when dealing with mysteries. But I imagine Jesus would like
us all to pay more attention, to not take the stories we hear at face value, but
to immerse ourselves in learning the “whys” of his incarnation, life, death, and
resurrection. Not the pat, catechism answers, but answers that can then inform
the prayers that rise from our hearts. Get to know this man, Jesus.
Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
We hope you
enjoy "Come and See!"
and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at
with questions, comments, and responses.
© 2009 - 2018, Elaine H. Ireland -