30 September 2012
First Reading: Numbers 11:25-29
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Second Reading: James 5:1-6
Gospel: Mark 8:27-35
When I first looked at today’s readings, I was a bit taken aback because my first thoughts were of our Church. Then, for my course at school, I had to research the new immigration and refugee law. This caused me to look at the readings in a broader light. I found that the readings really spoke to both of these issues. I’m not going to say a lot today but I want to give you few things to think about.
In the first reading, Moses had called a meeting of the elders. At that meeting God endowed the elders with the Spirit and they were given the gift of prophesy, which would better be understood in this instance, as the gift of preaching.
Joshua is upset because the elders Eldad and Medad, had not gone to the meeting, yet he finds them preaching in the camp. He complains about them to Moses. But Moses understands correctly, that it is God’s Spirit, and God’s right to share It with whomever. Church leaders today ─and I’m not just talking about Roman Catholic leaders, have forgotten this simple fact.
The second reading might seem like wishful thinking because it may seem to us that the rich and greedy are not suffering in the least. However, I would rather think of it as a cautionary tale. Greed, exploitation, and injustice are crimes or sins against love. These particular sins are addictive. With each act of greed fuelled exploitation, with each act of injustice, we are killing our own spirits, our own spiritual selves in the same way a heroin addict does with each fix.
Today’s Gospel brings these concepts together. In the first part of the Gospel, John is upset because someone who is not part of their group is healing in Jesus’ name. Jesus tells John not to stop the person because, “Anyone who is not against us is with us.” In light of what I’ve been researching on refugee claimants and Bill C-31, this passage tells me that Jesus is trying to get John past the “Us and Them” thinking that comes so naturally to all of us. If we include “them” what happens to “us?” Will “they” take our jobs? If they are right, are we wrong?
In the case of refugees there are people in positions of power and influence, who are telling us that the Romani people are criminals or that war resisters are shirkers and cowards. They tell us that they will be a drain on Canada’s resources. Incidentally, they say the same thing about the people in our neighbourhood. The same people, who would turn away the stranger in trouble instead of offering refuge and hospitality, claim to be Christian. How far, we have strayed from the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Now in the second part of the Gospel, Jesus says, “Rather than make one of these little ones who believe in me stumble, it would be better to be thrown into the sea with a large milestone hung around your neck.” This part made me think about the women in our church and this time I am talking about the Roman Catholic Church. I think about the women in our church, who heard God’s call and were told to ignore it. What greater way is there to make someone stumble, then to tell them to ignore the voice of God. Likewise, how can we turn away people who are seeking a refuge from persecution and discrimination, or people who are seeking a life of peace rather than continue a life of war?
The third and last part of the Gospel tells us to remove those parts of us that cause us to sin. Rather than think of sin in the traditional sense, think of sin as a falling out of right relationship with God, with our neighbour, with ourselves. Sin is a transgression against love. If we contemplate sin this way, it might even help us to “cut off” our “us and them” thinking. Conversely, we may look at holiness as striving to be in right relationship and as trying to see the presence and action of the Spirit of God in our lives. We might then attempt to look at our every day lives and our every day encounters, even the difficult ones, as enlightening opportunities. It can enable us to begin to gain a better perception of the world around us, of ourselves and of our relationship to the Creator of all. It can help us to begin to open our eyes to new possibilities and alternatives.
Please share your own thoughts on any or all of the readings or on what you’ve heard.