September 27, 2015 — Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nm 11: 25-29; Ps 19: 8, 10, 12-14: Jas 5: 1-6; Mk 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48
As Catholics every time we make the Sign of the Cross, we tend to think, or say, “In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit fills the Word for us. In fact, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#687) “…God’s Spirit, Who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, His Word, His living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of Himself…The Spirit makes us hear the Father’s Word…We know Him only in the movement by which He reveals the Word to us.”
The Third Member of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is sometimes the forgotten member of the Trinity, but it is the Spirit Who dwells within us, and Who is the major force in how we live our lives. Today’s readings all reach into the depths of understanding in relation to the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Numbers is so named because it is filled with numerical data — statistics, censuses, population data, priestly figures, and more. However, it is also part of the history found in Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus as well. The Holy Spirit is evident from the beginning; the second verse from Genesis 1 includes the statement “The Spirit of God was stirring above the waters.” The Spirit fills the Old Testament and our First Reading for this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time from Numbers 11 that begins, “The Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, the Lord bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.” Moses was filled with the Holy Spirit as were others whom God had chosen. We, too, are filled with the Spirit, but we must be open to It working within us.
As we have referenced over the past few weeks, during which time the Second Readings have been taken from the Letter of James, James speaks of and refers often to a “living faith.” This “living faith” is the Holy Spirit working within us and coming alive in the way we live, the way we treat and love others. Although on the surface James seems to be condemning the “rich” in today’s reading, James is saying that it is the rich who may be most likely to think they can live independently from God, that they do not need the Lord. Nevertheless, they, like all of us, must be completely dependent upon God. They must strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to overcome the dangers of wealth. This is shown by how they love, how they recognize that their gifts need to be used to serve God, the Church, and those in need.
Just as some of those who had been filled with the Spirit in the reading from Numbers expressed concern that others seemed to have the Spirit, although they had not been among the chosen, the Apostles convey similar uneasiness when they see others healing, although those others may not have been part of Jesus’ inner circle. To quell the apprehensions, Jesus responds, “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” The Lord is pointing out to us that our major interest should be in seeing the Holy Spirit within ourselves and using that Spirit in His name to make a difference.
Again it is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#689) that explains it best: “The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of His Son, is truly God…When the Father sends His Word, He always sends His Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable.” We may see Christ, but it is the Spirit Who reveals Him to us.