SILENCE – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost—Proper 20, Year B; Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (RC)

September 19, 2021

Revised Common Lectionary
Proverbs 31:10-31 or Jeremiah 11:18-20
Psalm 1 or Psalm 54
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
Psalm 54:3-4, 5, 6-8 (6b)
James 3:16 – 4:3
Mark 9:30-37



Silence can be the stillness
that fosters meditation.
Silence can be that awkward space
between new acquaintances
during a time of discovery.
Silence can be the easy quiet between people
who are comfortable
in one another’s presence.
Silence can mark a moment of remembrance
among grieving family members.

Yet when people keep quiet
after hearing a racist joke or slur,
silence empowers injustice.
When family members or co-workers
give the “silent treatment,”
silence becomes a weapon.
When one has been put down or left out,
silence can express hurt.

Silence can mean many different things.

In today’s Gospel reading
the disciples of Jesus fall silent
not once, but twice.

They were afraid
to ask him what he meant
when he told them—
for the second time—
that he would suffer, die, and rise again.
And so, out of fear
that they might hear a disturbing answer,
they kept quiet.

A robust and contentious debate
preceded their second silence.
Shame filled their hearts
and not a word was offered
as Jesus asked them the subject of their conversation.
How could they tell him
that they were arguing
about who was the greatest?

Within a very short time,
the disciples twice fell into silence—
once out of fear
and once out of shame.

As we hear the words of Jesus today,
let us lay aside our fears and our shame,
and meet the message of Jesus
with a different kind of silence.

Let our silence today
express awe and thanksgiving
for the love of Christ,
who poured out his life
that we might live.

Let us in silence turn our lives over
to the one who has shown us the way,
so that we may be servants of all,
offering welcome
to the child and the stranger,
the prophet and the refugee,
the homeless and the prisoner.

A Hymn for Today: “O Christ, What Can It Mean for Us”

This hymn by Delores Dufner, OSB, FHS, would be appropriate for Palm Sunday or for the observance of the Reign of Christ / Christ the King. The second and third stanzas, reflecting the message of today’s Gospel reading, provide the theological framework for understanding Christ as “a different kind of king.”

O Christ, what can it mean for us
To claim you as our king?
What royal face have you revealed
Whose praise the Church would sing?
Aspiring not to glory’s height,
To power, wealth, and fame,
You walked a different lowly way,
Another’s will your aim.

You came, the image of our God,
To heal and to forgive,
To shed your blood for sinners’ sake
That we might rise and live.
To break the law of death you came,
The law of love to bring:
A different rule of righteousness,
A different kind of king.

Though some would make their greatness felt
And lord it over all,
You said the first must be the last
And service be our call.
O Christ, in workplace, church, and home
Let none to power cling;
For still, through us, you come to serve,
A different kind of king.

You chose a humble human form
And shunned the world’s renown;
You died for us upon a cross
With thorns your only crown.
But still, beyond the span of years,
Our glad hosannas ring,
For now at God’s right hand you reign,
A different king of king.

Text: Delores Dufner, OSB, b. 1939, © 2001, 2003, GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857.

Image Credit: Christ Teaching the Disciples, manuscript illustration, Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib, 1684

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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