A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Prayers of the People: Him and Me ~ 16th Sunday after Pentecost '21 Yr B

For Sunday, September 12, 2021, Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 116:1-8, James 3:1-12, Mark 8:27-38

   The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens – wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. [Isaiah 50:4]
I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication…Gracious is the Lord and righteous; our God is full of compassion. [Psalm 116:1a, 4] 

For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle...How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire…From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. 
[James 3:2, 5b-6a, 10] 

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." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" [Mark 8:27-29a]

     Isaiah brings us the voice of the Servant in this autobiographical passage. Messages from Prophets are not always welcomed and often met with significant and violent backlash. This piece is often used in Christian interpretation to refer to Jesus, especially in verses 5-6, I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me…I did not hide my face from insult and spitting…God has given this Servant’s tongue the ability to teach us to awaken, to listen and be sustained, to know that we cannot be shamed or disgraced by our faith and our faith-filled works with God helping us. The Psalmist follows on with how God has heard the pleas and lifted those brought low. We aren’t always aware of our supplications being heard but the last line is a reminder to continue to walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.
      James says, in truth, not many of you should become teachers because teachers are held to a higher standard. He then gives us a true tongue lashing that spares no detail in his descriptions of the restless evil in our mouths, full of deadly poison within us! James is blunt saying that out of our mouths come both blessing and cursing. [I humbly admit I am guilty as charged and will continue to work on that with diligence.] 
      In this mid-point of his Gospel, Mark recounts a trip to Caesarea Philippi with the disciples when Jesus asks them what they have heard others say about him. Always an easier question to answer especially in a group: Who do THEY say...? "They and them" are the best at giving opinions, making comments, uninformed decisions, or judgments ~ hey, it's not me, it was "them" ~ they said, they did, they believe... But then comes the real question: "Who do you say that I am?" Money on the table time and Peter was right on it! "You are the Messiah." Easy-peasy until the conversation went downhill.
      Of course, no one wanted to hear what was coming next: suffering, rejection, and death ~ did they hear the part about rising in three days? Peter ~ Dear Peter ~ started to argue and was shut down by Jesus in the familiar words: Get behind me, Satan! But this reality was not going to be pleasant or easy and Jesus told the disciples and all the crowd around about saving or losing one's life, then and now. Peter, the disciples, and we, are told to get out of the mindset of human things and focus on divine things. We must take up our cross and concern ourselves unashamedly with the Gospel. Yes, there may be difficulties, rejection, and perhaps suffering because of it. But here in this day, I take solace and strength and am heartened by the words of Catholic social activist Dorothy Day* who said, If I have achieved anything in my life, it is because I have not been embarrassed to talk about God.
     The question hangs heavy in the air: Who do I say Jesus is? Do I express my answer well enough merely by wearing a cross, doing occasional good deeds, and attending Church? Am I embarrassed to speak openly of my faith in the face of scoffers? Is trying to keep my all-too-restless tongue tamed one way to take up my cross? There are no easy outs or answers, just truth between me and Jesus in my real time. There are no They and Them in this conversation, just Him and me, and He will never let me face my walk in the land of the living alone.


Leader:  ~ Gracious and Righteous Lord, You have helped us when we were brought low, heard our supplications, and treated us well. Please energize our souls with the courage to name Jesus as our Messiah and take up our cross to follow Him, for the sake of the Gospel and life everlasting.

                                      O God of Compassion
     RESPONSE:                      Hear our prayer             

~ Gracious and Righteous Lord, amplify the strength of our voices to implore and persuade all political leaders in our World, in our Nation and in our Community, to grant immediate aid and protection to all current and future victims of war, tyranny, violence, and natural disaster. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                               O God of Compassion
                                                               Hear our prayer

~ Gracious and Righteous Lord, in Your generous heart, cradle all who are exhausted by the endless pain of disease or depression, and fortify those whose work is to give comfort. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                                 O God of Compassion
                                                                 Hear our prayer

~ Gracious and Righteous Lord, gladden our mournful hearts as those we love now live forever in the splendor of Your Eternal Shores. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                                 O God of Compassion
                                                                 Hear our prayer

~ Gracious and Righteous Lord, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials… add your own petitions

                                                                  O God of Compassion
                                                                  Hear our prayer    

~ Gracious and Righteous Lord, anoint and sanctify again all who lead us in Your Church, who teach us the ways of discipleship, and who journey with us toward You in every phase of our lives. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                                   O God of Compassion
                                                                   Hear our prayer

 The Celebrant adds: O Lord God, guide the tongues of all who should teach and awaken the ears of others to listen. Help our imperfect selves remain always teachable, upright in the face of scorn, with our tongues more filled with blessings than curses, and learning each day to turn from mere human things to the divine Words of our Savior. We ask through Christ Jesus, our Messiah; and the Holy Spirit, our Fount of Wisdom, who together with You reign as the fullness of One God, now and forever. Amen

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