23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
September 04, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








 O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption,
look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters,
that those who believe in Christ
may receive true freedom
and an everlasting inheritance.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading  Wis 9:13-18b

Who can know God’s counsel,
   or who can conceive what the LORD intends?
For the deliberations of mortals are timid,
   and unsure are our plans.
For the corruptible body burdens the soul
   and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.
And scarce do we guess the things on earth,
   and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;
   but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
   and sent your holy spirit from on high?
And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

Responsorial Psalm  Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17 

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You turn man back to dust,
   saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
   are as yesterday, now that it is past,
   or as a watch of the night.

You make an end of them in their sleep;
   the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
   but by evening wilts and fades.

Teach us to number our days aright,
   that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
   Have pity on your servants!

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
   that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
   prosper the work of our hands for us!
   Prosper the work of our hands!

Second Reading  Phmn 9-10, 12-17

I, Paul, an old man,
   and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,
   urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
   whose father I have become in my imprisonment;
   I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
   so that he might serve me on your behalf
   in my imprisonment for the gospel,
   but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
   so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
   that you might have him back forever,
   no longer as a slave
   but more than a slave, a brother,
   beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
   as a man and in the Lord.
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Acclamation before the Gospel  Ps 119:135

Gospel  Lk 14:25-33 

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
   and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
   wife and children, brothers and sisters,
   and even his own life,
   he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
   cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
   does not first sit down and calculate the cost
   to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
   and finding himself unable to finish the work
   the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
   ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
   and decide whether with ten thousand troops
   he can successfully oppose another king
   advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
   he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
   anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
   cannot be my disciple.”

Reflection Questions

Where do you seek counsel?

Whom do you know that needs ransoming?

What are the possessions you might need to renounce?

Catena Nova

The tradition of the Fathers and the authority of holy scripture both affirm that there are three renunciations which every one of us must strive to practice. To these let us turn our attention.  First, on the material level, we have to despise all worldly wealth and possessions; secondly, we must reject our former way of life with its vices and attachments, both physical and spiritual; and thirdly, we should withdraw our mind from all that is transitory and visible to contemplate solely what lies in the future and to desire what is unseen.… It avails little to undertake the first of these renunciations, even with wholehearted devotion inspired by faith, unless we carry out the second with the same zeal and fervor.  Then having accomplished this as well we shall be able to go on to the third, whereby we leave the house of our former father, of him who fathered us as members of a fallen race, “children of wrath like everyone else,” and turn our inward gaze solely toward heavenly things.  We shall attain to the perfection of this third renunciation when our mind, no longer dulled by contact with a pampered body, has been cleansed by the most searching refinement from every worldly sentiment and attitude, and raised by constant meditation on divine things and spiritual contemplation to the realm of the invisible.  It will then lose all awareness of the frail body enclosing it or of the place it occupies, so absorbed will it be by things divine and spiritual. (St. John Cassian)

Get rid of everything that does not contribute to the health of your soul or lift your spirit up to God. (St. Hildegard of Bingen)

Jesus does not want us to be attached to possessions, to human honors, to creatures. He asks humility. But His love and His generosity make this detachment less difficult and less cruel to our nature. Nothing else matters to me anymore, nothing has any value for me but Jesus, no place, no thing, no person, no idea, no feeling, no honor, no suffering, nothing that can turn me away from Jesus. For me, Jesus Himself is my honor, my delight, my heart, my spirit, He whom I love, what I love, my home, Heaven here on earth. Jesus is my treasure and my love and Jesus crucified is my only happiness. (St. Bernadette Soubirous)

Slavery, very common up to the present day (although now other terms such as “trafficking” are often used for it), is perhaps the ultimate in possessing other people. Onesimus was a runaway slave. Paul experienced Onesmimus, not as a possession but as a gift, a person who freely gave of himself to serve Paul while he was a prisoner. Paul is tempted to be possessive and keep Onesimus for himself but he offers Onesemus to Philemon as a gift, clearly hoping that Philemon will give Onesimus back to Paul as a free gift. Paul makes it clear that he is not giving Onesimus back as a slave; instead, he is giving Philemon back as a beloved brother “both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Philem. 16) If Philemon receives Onesimus as a brother in Christ, he can hardly continue to possess him as a slave.  I’ve always seen Paul’s letter as an artful piece of emotional blackmail, but for all his manipulative rhetoric here, Paul is basically passing on to Philemon Jesus’ invitation to the Kingdom with its one qualification. This sounds simple, but in the heat of daily battles, we find that the possessiveness born of competitiveness is very hard to renounce and it amounts to carrying our cross daily. If we can daily renounce our possessiveness, we will indeed receive everything from God and from others as Gift.  (Abbot Andrew Marr)

Possessions are often regarded as a kind of life-threatening drug, impeding the power of judgment. "Sloth and cowardice creep in with every dollar or guinea we have to guard" (William James). Having contributes to rendering the ego dependent. In having dead things the ego approaches being dead itself. Possession occupies those who possess and contradicts the ideal of having life. Even things that make daily life and work easier are seen to be a kind of seduction into the mentality of possessors and the existence shaped by having. Buddhism calls this craving, and the traditions of Judaism and Christianity call it avarice.  (Dorothee Solle)

I believe that the root of evil,

in everybody perhaps,

but certainly in those whom

affliction has touched,

is daydreaming.

It is the sole consolation,

the unique resource of the afflicted;

the one solace that helps them bear

the fearful burden of time;

and a very innocent one,

besides being indispensable.

So how could it be possible to renounce it?

It has only one disadvantage,

which is that it is unreal.

To renounce it for the love of truth

is really to abandon all one’s possessions

in a mad excess of love and to follow Him

who is the personification of Truth.

And it is really to bear the cross;

because time is the cross.

In all its forms without exception,

daydreaming is falsehood.

It excludes love. Love is real.  (Simone Weil)

Jesus’ disciple renounces all his possessions because in Jesus he has found the greatest Good in which every other good receives its full value and meaning: family ties, other relationships, work, cultural and economic goods and so forth.... The Christian detaches him or herself from all things and rediscovers all things in the logic of the Gospel, the logic of love and of service. (Pope Francis)


A local dentist and his wife garnered some pretty bad publicity for having a party that was termed a “spoof” of Juneteenth including items with racist overtones.  The fallout included the resignation of a fire captain who attended with several subordinates, one of whom is suing the City of Rochester claiming he was coerced into attending by the captain.  The host couple has lost a number of seats they held on various boards and the husband’s dental practice has suffered significant loss of patients and staff.  They held a press conference to defend the party as a “liberal bashing” event and not a racist one though the wife admitted to posting tweets under a pseudonym with very definite slurs directed against African Americans for which she apologized.  Both are claiming to be victims of “cancel culture.”
I dare say most Americans would not have been able to tell you what Juneteenth was prior to its being made a federal holiday last year.  The news of the emancipation of slaves on June 19, 1865 following the Civil War finally reached Texas, the last state so informed.  Nor am I really surprised to learn that the new holiday doesn’t sit well with people on a certain end of the political spectrum any more than the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King does.  Nor would St. Paul’s plea on behalf of Onesimus, an escaped slave, to his owner Philemon for clemency have pleased many people at the time.
From its beginning, and despite the many ways in which it has been untrue to its origins since, Christianity has been a subversive force when it comes to established and unquestioned social realities.  When Paul writes elsewhere that in Christ Jesus there is no longer slave or free person — nor Jew or Gentile, nor male or female — well, those were revolutionary words.  Barriers were starting to come down as people who joined the church could no longer look upon fellow believers in the same way they might have before.  Distinctions based on class, religion and gender no longer served, said Paul, to keep one group subordinate to another or “far off” from each other.  It’s no wonder then that Christianity made its earliest inroads among marginalized persons.  And even if  later writings of the New Testament were more accepting of the status quo — even with respect to slavery — the new religion maintained its appeal to such people.  And it still can — to wit the elevation this week of the first Dalit cardinal of the Catholic Church:  the lowest of the Indian castes sometimes referred to as “untouchables.”
Or at least it did until Constantine legalized the outlawed and persecuted sect centuries later and the subversives all of a sudden became insiders, indeed, the establishment.  Thus was born “Christendom” along with all the temptations that come with power, influence and wealth.  The heroism of the martyrs, the risk to one’s life baptism posed, were gone as the faith was more and more mainstreamed in the populace — except of course for recalcitrant Jews and the practitioners of the traditional religions who, as expected, became in turn the objects of discrimination and persecution.
So how might the church regain its early edge?  Well, it seems to me by renouncing what remains of its claims to status and privilege — which are fewer and fewer in the West as religion continues its steady decline — though in some places where the church is flourishing the old temptations of Christendom are very much alive.  That includes those places in the United States gripped by the fever of  “Christian Nationalism” with its vision of a nation once more “under God” in “whom we trust.” 
Trouble with that vision, as history shows, is how the union of throne and altar — or in our case Church and State — will inevitably corrupt both secular and religious leadership, turning the faith into a parody of itself which, in some nationalist and Evangelical circles, it already has.  After all it was a Catholic, Lord Acton, who coined the famous dictum after the First Vatican Council defined the dogma of papal infallibility: “Power tends to corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Fortunately, Garibaldi was at the Vatican’s doorstep and the Papal States were about to become history.
Those who confidently assert their “in” with the Divine and just know they are acting on “Christian principles” or “biblical morality” or  “traditional values” or whatever shorthand they use to cloak their programs and policies with an aura of infallibility might listen to the warning sounded by the author of Wisdom:  Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends?… And scarce do we guess the things on earth,  and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? 
And lest the following words —  except you had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?  And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight (I) — seem to bolster confidence in knowing the mind of the Lord, the reading from Wisdom is paired with a gospel passage about carrying the cross while renouncing one’s possessions, and words of caution about building ill-advised towers or attempting lost-cause battles.  Indeed,  I see very little in the Lord’s teaching that would give warrant to his followers being anything but powerless, poor outsiders in whatever social milieu in which they find themselves.  Salt, light and leaven to be sure — but too much of those things and you will ruin the soup, go blind, and collapse the dough.
Let me give the final word to Fr. Mike Schmitz, a priest with a large Internet and YouTube following in an interview with David Marchese that appears in today’s  New York Times Magazine entitled “A Catholic Podcasting Star Says Theocracy is Not the Way”:
The United States is such a unique country. It’s a government of the people, by the people, for the people. We as a people are the nation. We are not just the governed but we govern ourselves. That’s one of the reasons, I think, that John Adams said this representative republic can only be successful if we’re “a moral and religious people.” Because then we’d be informed by a standard outside of ourselves that we answer to. That makes sense to me. My perspective on religious people would be that there is no desire to ruin anyone’s life. There is a desire simply to affirm the dignity of everyone’s life. But I’m not talking about theocracy. I’m talking about government of the people, by the people, for the people. Which means all of us get a say. From the deeply religious to the convicted atheist and everyone in between. No one gets to ram it down anyone else’s throat, but we all have a say. When it comes to the pulpit, whenever it comes to an issue I merely present principles, never policy. I don’t know if I’ve ever advocated a policy. Instead it’s, Let’s present principles and, trusting people, apply them as best we can.


Happy Labor Day!



Intercessions (cf. Joe Milner; The Sunday Web Site)

For the Church: that we may strive to open our hearts to God each day and be vigilant against allowing anyone or anything to displace God as the center of our life.

For all who are suffering for their discipleship or who are imprisoned or persecuted for their faith: that God will heal their pain, strengthen their spirit, and make strong and effective their witness to Christ.

For a true appreciation of all of our possessions: that we may accept them as gifts from God, use them to serve God and others, and never be possessed by them.

For an end to terrorism: that all who feel trapped and burdened by life may seek new ways to address their pain and come to a new understanding of the dignity of human life.

For all who have no food: that God will touch the hearts of those with abundance to share their bounty so that all may experience the reign of God.

For all who are recovering from wildfires, hurricanes or other disasters: that God will ease their suffering, give them hope, and strengthen all who working to assist them.

For all who are held in slavery or human trafficking: that God will break their bonds, heal them, and reconnect them with their loved ones.

For refugees and those who have fled violence, particularly children:  that God will open the hearts of many to recognize them as sisters and brothers, help them find places of safety, and be welcomed into communities of faith.

For preservation of our common home: that God will inspire leaders to develop policies and practices that will preserve the natural systems that God designed for the earth so that all may benefit from earth’s resources.

For all living in the midst of violence and civil discord: that God will open opportunities for peaceful resolution to these conflicts, protect each person from harm, and bring forth justice in these communities.

God of the ages,
you call the Church to keep watch in the world
and to discern the signs of the times.
Grant us the wisdom which your Spirit bestows,
that with courage we may proclaim your prophetic word
and complete the work you have set before us.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Hymn (Bernadette Farrell)


Restless is the heart until it comes to rest in you.

All the earth shall remember and return to our God.

Lord, you have been our refuge through all time, from one generation to the next; 

before the mountains were born, or the earth brought forth, 

you are God without beginning or end.

To your eyes a thousand years are like a day, no more than a watch in the night.

You sweep us away like a dream, like the grass that springs green in the morning,

but faded by night.

Make us know our life’s shortness that we may gain true wisdom of heart.

In the morning fill us with your love.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn (Libera)

I am the hours,
The days and moments yet to come
Until the end of time
All the centuries and
Seasons that are still to run
As endless years roll by.

I'll rise in the spark of life
The dawn of all time.
I'll call to the world still yet to be.
The music is everywhere,
In life, in the sea and air
To join in the perfect song of all eternity.

The noon of creation rings
And all in the heavens sing
The glorious song through all eternity
I am the dawn of all time.

I am the hours
And moments of your yesterday
I am your time gone by
O'er days and ages fleeting,
Long since passed away
As endless years roll by.