26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (NAB Translation)
Welcome to the Sunday Says podcast for September 27, 2015, the twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Thank you for joining us as we break open the Word of God to prepare our hearts and minds for this Sunday’s Mass. This week’s readings cover a lot of territory, beginning with the question in the Old Testament about who is authorized to speak for God. This question is covered again in the Gospel reading followed by a perhaps unpleasant warning from Jesus on the seriousness of sin. Between these two readings St. James addresses the folly of trusting in material wealth. So with so much to cover let’s get started. As always we are using the Jerusalem translation for copyright purpose.
Our reading from the book of Numbers in the Old Testament prefigures the gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out on Jesus’s disciples, but also addresses a legitimate question about who has the authority to speak for God. Moses, in his quest to govern his stubborn people during their 40 year passage through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, appoints 70 elders who are given the gift of prophecy. When it is discovered that two men from the camp (Eldad and Medad by name) who somehow had missed the “ordination ceremony” are also prophesying, the young Joshua, becomes concerned. Joshua is next in-line to succeed Moses in the years ahead and perhaps sees this a challenge to his authority. However, Moses, being older and wiser and probably able to discern the validity of the message of these two men tells Joshua that there is nothing to worry about. Moses’ attitude is such that he enthusiastically welcomes these newcomers who are on fire for God. When he says, “Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” he gives a hint of what will happen in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit is bestowed on many at Pentecost.
The responsorial Psalm is Psalm 19, which reminds us that God’s precepts should be a cause for joy because true joy exists when we are free from sin.
In our second reading from the book of James, we are given a blunt and stern message with no sugar-coating. James says that if we are rich we may as well “start crying for the miseries that are coming”. What a harsh message! Yet sometimes harsh language is needed to get our attention, especially when we are so easily distracted and seduced by money and all the things money can buy. Given our temptation towards the idolatry of pleasure, comfort, and wealth, there is a warning here that must be taken seriously. Not only will money not give us the salvation we seek, but all the worse if our money is made through exploiting others.
In our Gospel reading from St. Mark, we see Jesus addressing the question of who has authority to preach and heal in his name. John, in the Gospel, like Joshua in the book of Numbers, is concerned about unauthorized ministers. But Jesus says “no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.” In other words, if the message is true, why does it matter who shares the good news? So far so good. Then Jesus points out that anyone doing the slightest good for Him will not lose his reward: meaning little things done for the love of God become big things. Conversely, make no mistake, we will be held accountable for scandal, for leading others into sin. When Jesus says, “And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off;” we are seeing the essence of why we place emphasis on avoiding near occasions of sin. In the end, our eternal salvation is much more important than temporary pleasures here on earth, especially if they pull us away from God. This is the mindset we need to adopt as we seek to grow in holiness and our relationship with God.
Gospel Meditation, Reflection Question from Bishop Vasquez
Please consider using the following meditation for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sept. 27):
Jesus teaches us that what we do matters. Discipleship is not in a name but in our actions that announce we are followers of Christ. What actions or habits do we have in our lives that fulfill the work of Christ? What do we need to remove because it is contrary to the way of Christ?
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