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Sunday:       TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Date:         September 13, 2009
Year:         B
The readings: [Is. 50:5-9; Jas. 2:14-18; Mk. 8:27-35]
The message:  Setting your mind on Divine things.
Prepared by:  THE CATHOLIC DOORS MINISTRY
Total words:  1497

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Good morning to all! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all as you listen and hear the message of today's Scripture readings.

From today's First Reading, we can easily perceive that the great prophet Isaiah had his spiritual mind set on Divine things. As the ambassador of the Lord, from his mouth flowed prophetic words of the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus that were to occur approximately seven hundred and fifty years later.

During this spiritual manifestation, Isaiah said, "The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting."

From these holy words, we can perceive that it is a reference to the heavenly Father sending His only begotten Son Jesus as the promised Messiah. We can perceive the obedience of the Lord Jesus who was not rebellious against the Divine Will of the heavenly Father. We remember the passion of Jesus that is found in the Gospel of Matthew where it says, "Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him." [Mt. 16:67] We remember the insults again His Divine Person when the soldiers said, "Prophecy to us, you Messiah!" Who is it that struck you?" [Mt. 16:68]

Isaiah continued by saying, "The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near."

Truly, the Lord Jesus was exonerated. "He is the Head of the Body, the Church; He is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in Heaven, by making peace through the Blood of His Cross." [Col. 1:18-20]

Next, from the mouth of the prophet came questions, "Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?"

Who will stand by Jesus? Let them come forward and stand beside Him. Who are His enemies? Let them challenge Him. It is the Lord God alone who will help Him. Who dares to declare the Lord Jesus guilty of any crime?

As the Holy Bible tells us, the disciples of Jesus did not stand beside the Lord when He was arrested. They deserted Him and fled. [Mt. 26:56] But things had "to be this way for the scriptures to be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way." [Mt. 26:54] In the end, after Christ was buried, it is God alone who helped the Lord by raising Him from the dead. [1 Cor. 6:14] All of this had to happen for our sake. The heavenly Father made Jesus to be sin, He who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Cor. 5:21]

Through these accurate prophecies, we can perceive how the great prophet Isaiah was filled with the Holy Spirit. His example of living faith tells us to set our hearts on Divine things so we too can enjoy a priceless personal relationship with the Lord God as he did. When one sets his heart on Divine things, the Holy Spirit inspires him according to the Divine Plan for the benefit of the individual and the Church.

During today's Second Reading, we heard St. James speaking on the subject of faith. What is faith? Is it human faith, such as many enjoy by only believing in Jesus Christ for their salvation and then resting the rest of their lives? Or is it a faith that involves setting our hearts on Divine things?

According to St. James, "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?"

If we see someone in need, a relative, a parishioner, a neighbour, or even a stranger, and we say, "Go in peace." without lifting a finger to reach out and help, what good is that? Is that a spiritual action? Does it equal the love that Jesus had for others?

What good is faith if we neglect the promise that we made during the Sacrament of Confirmation? "By the strength of the Holy Spirit," we were commanded "to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross." (C.C.C. # 1303)

"So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."

Someone might say to me, "I have faith and you have works as a priest." In answer to this, I say, "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith."

True faith is living faith! It is a faith that bears fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as an indwelling Holy Spirit who is dormant. The grace of God is always at work! As such, the Holy Spirit always moves the soul to desire to be sanctified so it can shine in love towards others by charitable acts; so it can share the good news; so it can draw others to their living faith in Christ. These are some of the signs of living faith.

If we do not have these signs, we do not have the Holy Spirit. If we do not have the Holy Spirit, we do not bear fruits, these being works of God manifested through us. And, if we do not bear fruits, we do not have faith. For faith without works is dead!

These results can only be achieved by continuously, day and night, setting our minds on spiritual things. These results can only be achieved when we obey the commandments of God through the teachings of Jesus Christ in humility and servitude.

As we heard during today's Gospel Reading, on their way to the villages of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They responded by saying that some believed He was John the Baptist, other Elijah and still others, one of the prophets.

From these answers, it is clear that the people had their minds set on spiritual things, being able to make an association between the works of Jesus versus the works of those previously mentioned.

When the disciples were asked, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Messiah." In this case, not only did Peter have his mind set on spiritual things, but the grace of God was also at work through him by the power of the Holy Spirit. For no one can learn and know Divine truths unless inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after, the Lord Jesus began to teach that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Peter was offended by these words. Reverting to the blindness of the worldly mind that dwells in the human nature, he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. Consequently, the Lord Jesus rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things."

Here we see the weakness of man! While he has the capability to walk his living faith by continuously keeping his mind on Divine things, the moment his comfort zone is threatened, he reverts to his old self. He immediately lets go of his spiritual ways when his peers, his wealth, his fame, his pleasures, or other worldly ways threaten his stability in this world. He forgets that the Holy Spirit is like the wind. He blows where He chooses. You hear the sound of the wind, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. [Jn. 3:8]

To set one's mind on Divine things, one must let himself flow with the Holy Spirit. He must deny himself, take up his cross and follow the Lord Jesus.

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for the sake of Jesus, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, are your minds set on Divine things? Do you have a living faith in Christ, one that bears holy works? This week, reflect upon these questions. And, if there is a necessity to do so, change your lives so the Holy Spirit may freely flow through each and every one of you.


The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
First Reading...

"'The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.

Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?'" [Is. 50:5-9]


Second Reading...

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?

If brothers or sisters are without clothing and lack daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith." [Jas. 2:14-18]


Gospel Reading...

"Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that I am?' And they answered him, 'John the Baptist; and others, Elijah: and still others, one of the prophets.

Jesus asked them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered him, 'You are the Christ.' And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.

And Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, 'Get behind me, Satan! For you are thinking not as God does, but as human things.

Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 'Whoever wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.'" [Mk. 8:27-35]







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