Oct 2, 2021

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 

Often times, when he hear the Scriptures read during the Mass, it can often seem that they appear out of thin air. Regretfully, not many of us can place the text in the "context" of the sequence of events or see the episode in the light of the big picture. And this is very important. 

So, regarding the first reading from the Old Testament (Numbers 11:25-29), for those of us who need a refresher, here's the scene. Single handedly, Moses has been looking after the. Hebrew people - remember he was the one who was chosen by God, not only to negotiate their release from slavery, he had also to, practically, lead them by the hand through the treacherous terrain towards the promised land. But one thing was for sure. Even though Moses had a personal relationship with God, he realized his own limitations in the very practical areas of life. 

He was one man, looking after thousands, trying to respond to their needs, their complaints, the fights that would at times break out among them, trying to restore hope in the midst of uncertainty, boosting the morale of the camp, in the midst of hunger and boredom. It is not surprising that Moses got so desperate at times, pulling his hair out and nearly driven to despair from the constant badgering and complaints of the ungrateful "chosen people"! 

Moses is physically tired, mentally exhausted. But there is something in his life, which can not be touched, or weakened by the world around him or the demands of the crowd. Because he was the chosen instrument by God to point his people in the direction of true freedom, Moses was privileged to have a particular friendship with God, a unique understanding. Moses was exposed to the glory of God, like no one other, and it showed. Every time he went away and rendezvoused with God, such as on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandants, or in the tent of the Ark of the Covenant where he would enter, he always came back radiating that unique Spirit of God. 

It was that Spirit of God that gave Moses his faith, his courage, his resolute to lead the people forward. But at the same time, again and again along this difficult and often treacherous journey as he "pulled" the chosen people behind them, urging them continuously to "catch up", Moses was reminded of his own frailties, weaknesses and limitations - and we are not here talking about sin. 

There are just some things that we can not physically do - the burden is too much. There are challenges in life that we must face in order to fulfill our responsibilities, but we can find ourselves mentally or physically unable to respond. God provides help according to our needs. And we see that clearly spelt out in the Scriptures. The Spirit given to Moses was tailor made for him. But, to lighten its burden upon the body, that Spirit was freely shared with certain other individuals who understood his mission and his ministry. 

Christ can not offer the gift of true freedom to the world without our cooperation with him, not according to our own terms, but according to his. As a Christian, each one of us has been chosen, hand picked by Christ to extend to the world, a message which everyone must be able to hear and have the opportunity to respond to. Through people like you and me, the Spirit of Jesus has been given. But too often, we have become observers rather than receivers of his spirit. When we feel the pressures and obligations of being a Christian are too heavy, then how easy it is to look to the world, our culture, our society to provide the relief with so many of its appetizers. 

And this brings us to the Letter of Saint James, our second reading. He says, in so many words, "if you could only see yourself and how you handle the stresses of life" - how you respond. Instead of reaching out to Christ or simply obeying his commandments as the true solution to the pains of life, you instead put more faith in how you look in front of the mirror, or what you put into your body to give it a buzz, or the investments or things you buy in the attempt to, in some sort of way, "feel" secure. 

None of these are built to last. But if anyone dares tell you that the way you handle the stresses of life is immoral, or that the way you give into looking after your own needs is sinful, corrupt - then St. James predicts accurately how we would react. We will silence that voice so that it offers us no resistance, no shame or embarrassment. The best way to silence someone when we do not want him or her to unmask our selfishness, is "character assassination". It's effective. 

We shot the messenger to silence the message because the message is a threat to our guarded freedom. The freedom to feed ourselves until we burst, to spend until we can't pay back, to do whatever we want because we have to power to do it and get away with it - until we die. Too often we expect others to live our types of lifestyles and our values or silently accommodate us so that we can get on with life the way we want to live it. ill its most purest form the true power of freedom is to be able to, surprisingly, say no when you could easily say yes to any of the appetizing opportunities that this world, or our own little world, offers us to indulge in. 

True freedom, offered by Christ provides the self­discipline necessary so that we can resist the attractiveness to sin. The Gospel message is clear. Hell does exist, but it's not worth the risk. Do not be afraid to make sacrifices in order that Christ comes first in all things. 

If you truly do belong to Christ, then you will hear his voice, understand what he is asking of you and freely chose to live according to his standards. Psalm 19 sets all of this in context. "The Law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul". If you are assured that God's law offers you the best possible way of living life, then into·that life, you will also invite others to participate. 

The Spirit of Moses the Prophet was shared with the seventy elders, for them to join with him in leading the people from slavery to freedom. The Spirit of Christ the Priest has been shared with me and many men like me, so that I may share in the life of the Shepherd and there, to freely find the strength, the grace to lead this flock through the dangers of this world, to the safety of greener pastures, the place of true refreshment. Together, not as individuals who share each other's space, but as priest and priestly people sharing the body and blood of Christ, may we truly recognize our common responsibilities to each other, in our own particular way, for our own salvation and the salvation of the world which is in our hands.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Diocesan Homily and Resources on the Eucharist Sunday Eucharistic Themes to keep in mind to apply to one’s life: He took (choose), blessed, ...