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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, Sept. 2, 2012

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

September 2, Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8

Psalm 15:2-5

2) James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27

Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

At Mass recently, the priest asked the congregation, "How many of you are missionaries?" Looking around the room, he saw only a few hands go up. Then he asked, "How many of you are baptized?" We all raised our hands. He went on to say that by virtue of our baptism we are all missionaries. Our baptism calls us to action and to evangelization.

This reminded me of a stimulating talk I heard from Fr. Robert Thames, a priest who has served most of his ministry years in the mission field. In speaking to a group of diocesan and parish employees, he said that if our programs are not sending the faithful out into the community to serve then we are not being church.

This challenge really struck me. I thought of all the effort that goes into Mass, Christian formation programs, adult Bible studies and retreats and many other catechetical sessions, and I realized that far too often this is where the experience of church ends. Too often we are not only satisfied with hearing the Gospel, but we think that is all there is to living the Christian life.

St. James, in this weekend's readings, must have seen the same attitude in the first-century church for he challenges them with these words: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only." He goes on to say, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

Our baptism immerses us in the mission of the church, which is to build up the body of Christ in strength and in number. Following Jesus has two basic dimensions: First, we must do all we can to hear and embrace the word of God; second, we are to do all we can to share that word with the world.

Though we might not have realized it, we are all indeed missionaries -- called to hear the word of God and to put what we hear into action to make an impact in the lives of the people we meet along the way to heaven.

QUESTIONS:

Have you ever thought of yourself as a missionary? If this idea is new to you, what do you think about this role and how do you think you can act it out? What does it mean to you to be a doer of the word?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"Be doers of the word and not hearers only." -- James 1:22

END



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