Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings




Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time;  Cycle B

September 26, 2021

Readings at the Liturgy: Numbers 11:25 – 29; James 5:1 – 6; Mark 9.38-43,45,57-48

Meditation on the Gospel Reading: 

The call to live in God in Christ, is a delicate one, requiring, at once, interior consent and hopeful transformation in the manner of our life..  The call requires loving obedience and fidelity to the visible Church that is the prime sacrament of the living Christ but the life in Christ also requires absolute openness to the Holy Spirit who is the life of the Church and yet "blows where He wills."  We seek to capture the “wild wind of the Spirit”—as the Celtic church taught— yet we must be obedient and faithful to the light of Revelation within the infallible orthodoxy of the Church. 
In this Gospel episode, the apostle John feels the tension. He is committed to the band of disciples gathered around Jesus.  He is being re-formed to be faithful to the Word and Sacrament of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit has grafted him insolubly into the Christ.  Yet he witnesses the Spirit blowing where He wills.

Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we tried to stop him because he is not of our company.

Jesus’ response shows that the openness of God is manifest in the way in which the gift of the Spirit is given beyond our human border-making.  Vatican II spoke to this issue. 
The Council proclaims the Catholic Church as the one in which the fullness of Christ’s Church subsists.  “The one true Church subsists in the Roman Catholic Church.”  Then the Council goes on to show how other Christian communions partake of the Spirit, and even, how non-Christian religions manifest aspects of God's revelation.  We must be faithful to our call in the Church; we wish all to come into the fullness of Christ's Church; but, beyond that, we are unknowing in how God gives His Spirit.
People are identified in different ways with the Christ and the mystery of redemption.  Even a person who gives a cup of water to a disciple of Christ is rewarded.  We must be faithful to the light and call we have received. 
In the very same Gospel reading, however, we are startled by Christ’s severity.  People who work at destroying the simple faith of Christ's flock will be severely punished.

Better to be thrown into the sea with a heavy stone around your neck than to participate in the work of destroying the faith of Christ's chosen disciples who must live in the world. 

It is a strong warning that we should not participate in the watering down of Christ's Gospel, in the making the Gospel politically correct and palatable to sophisticated moderns and post-moderns and thereby lose the uniqueness of Christ, Savior and

The teaching of this Gospel episode clarifies the first part of the Gospel concerning the
free gift of the Holy Spirit.  Those who say they are of Christ, and yet teach that which is opposite the Gospel, cannot be of the Spirit. "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2.22-23)

There is a story about St. John of the Cross sitting with one of the nuns of the Order and his explaining to her to what great lengths our fidelity to Christ summons us.  He is quoted to have said on that occasion: Nada, nada, nada hasta que se pierda su propria piel por Cristo.  The English is: Nothing, nothing, nothing even to losing your own skin for Christ. 

This is what the latter part of this Gospel selection is teaching.  Cast off anything of the world, anything that is dear to you, anything that seems by nature your right and choice.  Cast them all off if they are impediments to your belonging to Christ.  Cast them off if they are bringing you to eternal destruction.  Cut off you hand, your foot, your very eye, pluck it from you, if they are leading you to destruction.  Of course, the foot, the hand, the eye are not the culprits in themselves.  Mutilation is against God's law. What must be gotten to, are the deep-seated desires, addictions, attachments, resistance to grace.  This cleansing is the work of the Holy Spirit in the passive and active purifications of the dark nights.

How absolute is the demand of Christ's love upon us!  Hell is the searing fire of Christ's love burning those who do not want that love.

We have in this Gospel the open, loving Christ who is generous in giving His Holy Spirit. But it is the same loving and generous Christ who stands as a sign of contradiction, a sharp, two-edged sword, to those who maliciously reject the Kingdom and work with Evil in seeking to destroy the Kingdom and to embrace death in the face of divine life.  Anyone who is not against us is with us—how generous is the Lord.  But what of those who are against the Gospel and work at their opposition to Christ?

We join in the Eucharistic mystery that the Church celebrates, that creates and nourishes the Church, that reaches out to all in the grace of salvation.


Monday, October 1st, is the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Here are some selections from Von Balthasar's Two Sisters in the Spirit: Therese of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity:
"Therese fights with the sword of the spirit against the powers of darkness, with the sword of truth against the serried ranks of lies that secretly encompass her about on every side....Her whole life becomes an exposition of God's word, a sacrifice of all her own truth to the unique truth of God with her.  That is her obedience, and it bestows her mission upon her.  She draws aside all the veils that are intended, either from sympathy or worldliness, to conceal the realities. `I have never behaved like Pilate, who refused to hear the truth.  Always I have said to the good God: O God, I will listen to you gladly; I beg of you to answer me when I humbly ask you: What is the truth?  Make me see things as they are.  Let nothing cause me to be deceived.'" (pp.43,44,45)
"For her, humility is synonymous with truth, and truth alone can nourish her.  Anything that fails to provide food for the soul, no matter how piously presented, is for her indigestible, sugary trash."  (p.48)
Strong, brave, single-focused Saint of God, Therese, pray for us that we love Jesus with all the love His grace bestows on us.

--William Fredrickson, (Secular Oblate OSB; D.Min.)



For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson