September 30, 2012 – Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nm 11:25-29; Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Over the past few weeks, we have heard Jesus predict His passion, assuring the disciples that He did not come in order to be glorified, but rather to serve, to give of Himself for our sake. And, in today’s readings, we are challenged to join Christ in His mission to serve others. Following in His footsteps, that is what we are here for.
In today’s first reading, we hear a story of the 70 elders joining Moses in his mission to proclaim the good works of the Lord. God poured out His grace on them, giving them the gift of prophesy, and, willingly offering their service to the Lord, the men begin to do just that – prophesying of things to come and proclaiming the good news of things that the Lord had done. In Moses’ defense, some of the men begin to object. But Moses assures them that it is a good thing.
“Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow His spirit on them all!” (first reading)
Moses recognizes their gift of prophesy as coming from the Lord and their prophesying as a willing participation in the Lord’s work. And that, He assures His followers, is a very good thing.
We see a very similar thing happen in today’s gospel.
Seeing a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name, the disciples react. They are under the impression that Jesus has a monopoly of sorts on doing such things. But Jesus quickly corrects them, assuring them that if the man is doing so in the name of Christ, then He is doing so because of Christ and, therefore, He ought not be stopped. The Lord does have a monopoly on performing such miracles, but not in the way the disciples had thought. In fact, it is not just such wondrous miracles that owe their happenings to Christ’s power. All good things come by way of gift from God, and all that we do – whether it be driving out demons, performing our daily tasks, participating in parish ministries – we do because God has granted us the ability to do them. Therefore, in living life as God has intended us to live it, giving ourselves – our time, our talents and our treasure – to serve God and others, we are participating in the mission and ministry of Christ Himself.
Jesus says, “Do not prevent Him. There is no one who does a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me” (gospel).
When we serve others in the name of Christ, we are allowing Christ to work through us, and, therefore, we are helping Christ’s mission of loving service to continue more than 2,000 years after He walked the earth.
What’s more, we ought to do it together, recognizing and gratefully respecting the many gifts God has given others, allowing all of us to pool our efforts in order to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world and bring others to Christ.
Like the men in today’s first reading, it is easy for us to get jealous when we see that others have one gift or another, but we must recognize, as Moses encourages his followers to do, that all good gifts come from God. We must praise Him for the gifts He has given both us and others, and we must use those gifts to serve His kingdom.
We are sure to be amazed at the good things God will do when we give ourselves to Him and encourage others to do the same!