Catholic in Yanchep

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium)

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B | Anyone who loses his life for my sake …

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A distraught Syrian Christian holds up the body of his child, beheaded by Islamic State.

A distraught Syrian Christian father holds up the body of his child, beheaded by Islamic State.

Something very peculiar is going on in the world.

Finally the world is waking up to the events in Syria, but it is not in response to the brutal martyrdoms of Christian children who have been beheaded with their heads paraded on poles.

It is rather the photo of Aylan Kurdi, whose drowned body washed up on a Turkish beach, who has spurred the world into action.  And where was his father at the time Aylan went overboard?  Speeding at the helm of the vessel according to Zainab Abbas, who said,“He was a smuggler.  Yes, he was the one driving the boat.”

Frankly, the media aren’t particularly interested in Christians being persecuted.  Meh, Christians are fair game, aren’t they?  Isn’t it their mission to lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel?  The highest Sunni authority in Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, has said, in response to the proposal that Christians and other minority groups be given priority among Syrian refugees:

“Statements like this, in their clarity of discrimination against Muslims … assert the counter narrative that Muslims are always going to be discriminated against and vilified in the Australian community.”  Muslims are “feeling yet another form of discrimination, or marginalisation and of targeting”.

Eh?  Is he so focused on his own sense of victimhood that he can’t see the suffering of others?  Surely there are times to discriminate – in favour of those who are the chief victims of persecution?

Our readings today remind us how it is part of the essence of Christianity to be willing to be persecuted: “‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’

But that doesn’t mean we don’t go to the aid of our brothers and sisters in need!

Read the Archbishop’s statement on assistance to refugees.  Donate to the persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria here.

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year B 24th Sunday 2015

Pdf format: Year B 24th Sunday 2015

For a Scripture Study on today’s readings, see Dr John Bergsma’s commentary.

And you might want to listen to Fr Barron’s homily – which discusses the Catholic vs Protestant interpretation of the relative importance of Faith and Works (see today’s second reading from the letter of James).  Actually this issue has largely been resolved by the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification which saw agreement in essentials between Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists.

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