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The First Shall Be Last | Breaking Open the Word at Home

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

In the readings for Sunday, Sept. 23, we get a warning about those who would try and cause trouble for others, and the dangers of jealousy.

by Jen Schlameuss-Perry


Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us… 

Psalm 54
The Lord upholds my life.

James 3:16-4:3
Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. 

Mark 9:30-37
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:

Scriptures for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B


Today, we get a glimpse into the mind of evil people, an explanation of where conflicts come from, and a stern reminder from Jesus about what it means to serve. The Book of Wisdom tells us that evil people are all about trying to take down the good ones—they want to publicly humiliate, and even destroy them because the good ones shine a light on the evil that they are doing. They tempt God with their attack on the person, challenging God to protect him; having no respect for God or the other person. James tells us that it’s jealousy and ambition that drive wedges between people—only those who aren’t satisfied with their own lives make trouble for others. And, causing division and doubt is not what God is about—that, as Wisdom tells us—is from the evil one.

Jesus had to deal with these issues even within the group of Apostles that he chose—they fought among themselves about who was the best. And that was right after he told them that he was going to suffer and die! Can you imagine telling your best friends that something terrible awaited you, just to have them ignore that you said it and then proceed to argue about who the best friend is? Well, Jesus can, because it happened to him. He took them aside and told them that if ambition is their driving force, they’re driving down the wrong road. The truly great person is the one who is disinterested in his own glory, but seeks to serve the smallest and most vulnerable among God’s people.



Do you ever hear people talk badly about others? What can you do when you hear it?


Have you ever had someone attack or try to discredit you? What was that like? Have you ever done that to someone else (even through gossip)? Does James’ assessment of the origin of disunity resound with your experience?


What does the Apostle’s appalling behavior tell you about the people God chooses as his friends? How good are you about putting your own ambitions aside to serve others?

Bonus Challenge

Why do you think Jesus used welcoming a child as the example of how to serve God?

A little lectio

The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.

A little Bible study

Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:

  • During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
  • Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
  • Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
  • Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
  • If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)

For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.

The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”

Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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