for Sunday, September 27, 2015
Both the first reading today, from the Book of Numbers, and the Gospel from Saint Mark speak about efforts to control the Spirit of God. This happens when religion becomes a business and controlled by people. Such an idea does not exclude organized religion, but it does point out one great danger of organized religion: making it business instead of serving God.
If we start today from the second reading, from the Letter of James, then we can see all of the readings relating to each other. James is telling us first of all that there is a God and that there is a life after this one. If we do not believe this, then none of the readings will make any sense. Today fewer and fewer people believe that there is a God who asks us to live in a particular way and fewer and fewer believe in a life after this present one.
Thus the first challenge to each of us today is this: believe in God and believe in life eternal. For us Christians, then the challenge is to believe truly that Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus is God and Jesus is our Savior. If we believe all of this: God, eternal life and Jesus, then we enter into a completely different world in which our actions have meanings in the presence of God, for life in the world to come and in serving the Lord Jesus.
When we believe, we begin to be able to see the Spirit at work in our world and in one another. This should not lead us to judge others. Rather it should draw us to love others and to seek to open the way of faith to them through love.
In the Book of Numbers, Moses is a wonderful example of this for us. When the Spirit of Prophecy is poured forth, he knows that he does not have to control it or contain it. He simply marvels at the work of God who is able to work wherever He wants. God is never bound. Rather, we are shown a God who is willing to seek out His people in any way that He can. It is we humans who put conditions and walls and resistance.
In the Gospel, it is a repeat of the Book of Numbers. John tells Jesus that there are people doing things in the name of Jesus and yet who are not followers of Jesus! We should try to understand this impatience! Sometimes we ourselves want everything neat and orderly! We need to recognize that whoever does a loving act is in God! That does not mean that there is no importance to the Church or to organized religion. It only recognizes that God is not bound.
So we are back to our faith: do I believe in God, in life eternal and in Jesus as Savior? This is a question we must ask ourselves. Each of us needs to say clearly and without hesitation: I believe in God, in the life of the world to come and in Jesus as my Savior! Amen!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Numbers 11.16a, 17c, 25-29
Second Reading: James 5.1-6
Gospel: Mark 9.38-43, 45, 47-48
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: