26th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year B.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Marriage According To God’s Will and Plan”.
The first reading and the Gospel are about marriage and present the original plan of God. Why has he made us male and female? What was his purpose?
The second reading could be linked to this theme. Jesus in his humanity is a person like us, and he understands all our difficulties in regard to sexuality. Christians have the duty to show understanding and give guidance to couples, who are in difficulty.
The teachings of today should be such that the participants will understand how the indissolubility of marriage, monogamy and chastity are not difficult and unreasonable impositions of God, but a means to defend and protect the dignity of man and of woman and to make them happy.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.”
In Numbers, Moses shared with God the responsibility for Israel during their desert journey. The strain on Moses proved too great. Moses, who was unable to carry the whole load of leadership, appealed to God for help. God gave him seventy assistants with whom he communicated through his Spirit.
These seventy were predecessors of the later enthusiastic prophets (Sm. 10:10). They were appointed outside the camp at the Tent of Meeting. When two others, Eldad and Medad, who had stayed in the camp, suddenly prophesied too, Joshua objected. Moses rejected his intolerance. He upheld God’s freedom to communicate outside his structures. He wanted all to share the prophetic gift.
This episode can teach us various things. Firstly, it should provide our community animators with food for reflection when they feel discouraged and depressed because, after years of work, they see little change in the lives of the members of their community. They should take courage: Moses had the same difficulties. They must question themselves in order to discover if it is they themselves who are the cause for the lack of results in spite of all their effort.
Perhaps pride and jealousy prevents us asking for help and our reluctance to share the responsibility with others? But there is a more important lesson to be learnt; we must condemn all kinds of fanaticism by attacking anybody who thinks differently or does not belong to the group; it is the one who shuts his or her eyes to whatever good the others do and classifies whoever is not with him or her or shows disapproval as wicked and must be opposed. This is a bad attitude to adopt.
Are there fanatics among Christians? Unhappily, yes, as we shall see in today’s Gospel. The Spirit is not confined to a particular institution. God is free from all bonds, boundaries and set rules, particularly rules that we institute in his name. God can produce good results wherever and whenever he chooses. He is like the wind; he blows where he pleases; he cannot be constrained, even within the visible structures of the Church. The Spirit of God is active everywhere to produce goodness, peace and joy to all whom he may choose.
Sometimes we get more caught up with the source of the prophecy than with the discernment of its message. In the same way, sometimes the right rubber stamp does nothing to lessen the in-authenticity of a message. God’s Spirit blows where it wills. As soon as we think we’ve got it contained and controlled in a bottle, it is sure to turn up someplace else.
Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-14.
The Psalm meditates on the universe being a silent revelation of God’s power and wisdom and is a hymn to his glory. It meditates on God’s generosity in giving the Law. It echoes God’s freedom to communicate outside his structures.
In James, we read of an attack not so much on riches as on the methods used to acquire them. His teachings have their roots in the Old Testament and in the Gospels. The Law in Leviticus condemned those who deprived labourers of their wages. Amos prophesied against those who crushed the needy.
In the Gospels, Jesus warned against treasures which moth and worm consumed. If our lives are predominately about getting ahead, we can be sure someone is being left behind. If we are focused on what will make our lives more comfortable, we can be sure someone else is made less comfortable. Wherever it is we think we are going, we have to stop and consider the shouts of those who helped us harvest, which will ultimately reach the ears of the Lord.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man, cautioned us about our ‘Future Judgment’. The same God, who had heard the cries of his oppressed people in Egypt, hears the cries of workers that go unpaid today. The severity and harshness of James is understandable, if we keep in mind that the accumulation of wealth is totally incompatible with Christian values.
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48.
There is a striking similarity between the incident reported in the Gospel and the first reading taken from the Book of Numbers, where Moses’ servant Joshua, complains to Moses that God’s Spirit has come down on some who were not considered suitable for it. In the first part of the Gospel for this Sunday, we see an occurrence that is almost an exact parallel to the story of Eldad and Medad. The disciples, who in last week’s Gospel were concerned about their own importance, have still not learned their lesson. Here is a stranger casting out demons in Jesus’ name; surly this is their prerogative? They try to stop him, but without success and complained to Jesus that someone outside their group should not be allowed to use his name. Jesus rejects their narrow-minded attitude. The tolerance of Jesus here is in sharp contrast to the practice of the early Church.
For Jesus, discipleship does not consist of words or in physical companionship. It is an attitude of the heart, which shows itself in good deeds. “Those who listen to the Word and do the will of the Father,” are his mother and brother and sister; they are his true disciples. What really matters in religion is what we do, not so much what we say. Actions speak louder than words. A true disciple of Jesus must never believe that only the members of his group or his movement of his Church belong to Jesus and are ‘saved’. Since when do Christians have exclusive rights to Jesus?
What God’s word teaches us in these readings is a lesson that we might not advert to very often. The lesson is that the working of God’s power is not confined exclusively to channels that God has already identified. God can and does work in ways that are different and beyond the instrumentalities that he has informed us about. God’s action in the world is not limited to the means that have been revealed to us.
God reaches out to us through the Sacraments. But that does not mean that God cannot also reach out to people without the Sacraments. God leads us and guides us through the Sacred Scriptures. But that does not mean that he cannot also lead and guide people without the Scriptures. In the teaching of the Church, God brings us to the knowledge of the truth, to access the life of the Risen Christ, to guidance for upright living. But that does not mean that everybody who is not a church member is excluded from his loving care.
The Sacraments and the Scriptures and the Church are the ordinary means of God’s care for humankind, the means through which most people are brought to salvation. But God is bigger and more powerful than Sacraments, Scripture and the Church. He is not obliged to limit his love and goodness to those particular means.
Wherever we see people doing good, healing others, liberating them from any kind of oppression, the Spirit of Jesus is at work. When we see someone doing the kind of good deeds Jesus did, working for the truth, for justice, for the dignity of people, caring for the suffering, that person is ‘for Jesus’, and belongs to him, even if he or she confesses a different religion. In a mysterious way “Jesus is united with each and every human being” and “the Holy Spirit is also present in the hearts of all persons”.
Does our behaviour help others to grow in their faith or does it give scandal to them and discourage them? If we take the words of Jesus seriously, we bear responsibility for the faith of others. Rather than giving in to the sinful suggestions of the hand and foot or eye, it would be better to remove them altogether and enter into a new life Jesus offers with only one hand, foot or eye. These harsh words make the point that nothing, not even what we think most precious, must be a hindrance to our entering God’s kingdom. Something you really don’t want to be responsible for: “Is there any area of your life where you may be ‘causing one of these ‘little ones’ to turn away’ from the Lord”?
The history of salvation is often a story of God choosing the most unlikely people to become leaders and moral guides. Some of the great saints, too, had to fight all the harder because the “official” Church failed to recognise them as God’s instruments. Can we dare to say that God does not choose even non-Christians to effect change for the better in the world, and even in the Church?
There are many in the Church who do not belong to the Kingdom, while there are many in the Kingdom who do not belong to the Church.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. … Moses carried the responsibility for God’s people, which burdened him greatly. The Lord eased his load by passing on his Spirit to the ‘seventy elders’. The lesson for us all is when we become overly strained with the Lord’s work; he will commission others to help carry the load. Sometimes we need to ask and tell the Lord that we are not coping. When we do God’s will we are never alone, God is with us and is always ready to help and guide us.
Mon. … When pride and jealousy prevent us for asking for help and we become reluctant to share the responsibility with others, we are no longer only doing the Lord’s work. We are following our own agenda. We are clouding our efforts with self-seeking rewards and recognition by others. We are no longer serving the Lord, but are serving ourselves and closing our hearts to God’s Spirit.
Tues. … There are many ‘Eldads and Medads’, who are part of our community, whom we do not regard as worthy. There are many who are able to speak in God’s name and by his authority, honour his Law and his will. God knows who they are. When God needs them, his Spirit will rest upon them and they will become ready and able to serve.
Wed. … James does not condemn wealth as such, but the greed and injustice involved in creating it. We need to reflect on what we have acquired. Have we earned our possessions in a just manner or at the expense of the poor? Do any of God’s gifts, which we have taken control of, perhaps, rightly belong to others? Is our usage of God’s gifts in line with true Christian values?
Thurs. … For Jesus, discipleship does not consist in words or in physical companionship. It is an attitude of the heart, which shows itself in good deeds. “Those who listen to the Word and do the will of the Father” are his mother and brother and sister. They are his true disciples. What really matters in religion is what we do, not so much what we say. Actions speak louder than words. A true disciple of Jesus must never believe that only the members of his group, or his movement of his Church belong to Jesus and are ‘saved’.
Frid. … The Scriptures, the Sacraments, the teachings and guidance of the Church are the means through which most people are brought towards salvation. God’s Spirit and his graces are not the exclusive property of the Church. God does not limit his love and saving graces to any particular means. God’s Spirit and graces are drawn to a loving heart of any person of any religion that is practicing good works and mercy to the poor. Since when do Christians automatically have exclusive rights to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?
Sat. … When we realize that some of our attitudes are wrong, or our ideas and actions are incompatible with Christ’s teachings, we must have the courage to prune and cut away where necessary, even if it causes pain and heart-rending consequences. Do we choose Christ’s way or the world’s way? Something you really don’t want to be responsible for: “Is there any area of your life where you may be causing one of these ‘little ones’ to turn away from the Lord?”
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, grant us then grace to understand that true religion is an attitude of the heart, which shows itself in gratuitous love and good deeds. Help us to always remember what really matters is what we do, not so much what we say. Actions speak louder than words.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.