26th Sunday of the Year, B – September 26, 2021.
Readings: Numbers 11:25-29; Ps 18:8,10,12-14; James 5:1-6 & Gospel – Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48.
Theme: A Chance for the Eldads and Medads of Our Time!
The first reading recounts how Eldad and Medad became beneficiaries of God’s spirit. In the second reading, St. James comes hard on the rich who oppress the poor by reminding them of the day of judgement. The Gospel discloses how Jesus rebuked the Apostles for trying to stop a man who was casting our devils in his name because he was not one of them. Like Moses and Jesus, you too must allow the Eldads and Medads of our time to contribute their quota to ecclesial, religious, national and global developments by being roots of unity in a fragmented world.
Friends in Christ, there is no time that the world needs global synergy than now. This is because there is so much hatred and divisions as there are conflicts and wars. While the strong are having their way, the weak are wallowing in squalid conditions with neither dignity nor hope for a better tomorrow. Sadly, the odds are more because of the “Us” versus “”Them” dichotomy which further segments the world. Today, our liturgy seeks to address these divisions towards building a more humane world where every human being enjoys equals rights and dignity.
Background & Summary of the Readings
The first reading (Numbers 11:25-29) recounts how Eldad and Medad became beneficiaries of God’s spirit although they were not in the tent when God visited Moses and the elect. When a young man reported the affair, Joshua wanted to go and stop them but Moses replied him: “Are you jealous on my account? If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets, and the Lord gave his Spirit to them all!”
In the second reading (James 5:1-6), St. James comes hard on the rich who oppress the poor by refusing to pay them their wages. He also accused them of enjoying a cozy life, eating to their heart’s content and condemning the innocent and killing them while they offered no resistance. Without mincing words, he pronounced judgement on them thus: “Your wealth is all rotting, your clothes are all eaten up by moths. All your gold and your silver are corroding away, and the same corrosion will be your own sentence, and eat into your body. It was a burning fire that you stored up as your treasure for the last days.”
The Gospel (Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48) discloses how Jesus rebuked the Apostles for trying to stop a man who was casting our devils in his name because he was one of them. “Anyone who is not against us is for us” Jesus said. He goes ahead to declare “If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ” they would have their reward. He also taught that it is better for anyone to put a stone round his neck and fall into the sea than scandalize little children. He surmised that if any part of the body would make one lose heaven, it is better to cut if off because, “it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”
1. Seek Collaborations: Amidst various divisions in the world between the poor and the rich, bigger nations and poorer nations, clergy and laity, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Christian, holy and unholy et al, the first reading and gospel charges us to work towards greater collaboration, ecumenism, dialogue and synergy which seeks after the good of the human person.
2. Respect the Values of Others: The story of Eldad and Medad in the first reading teaches us that since other people also possess the spirit of God as exemplified in the story of Susanna in which God’s spirit made the little Daniel to stop the killing of an innocent Jewish woman (Cf. Daniel 1:5-64), we must learn to respect others alongside their values as that is a catalyst for justice and peace in the world.
3. Give the Poor their Due: That St. James comes hard on the rich who oppress the poor by refusing to give them their wages urges those who have others at their beck and call to remember that one day they would also be asked to give account of their stewardship.
4. Store Up Treasure in Heaven: The affluent are challenged to remember that preoccupation with gold and silver, fine clothing, wining and dining while neglecting the needs of the poor especially little children means storing up “burning fire” as their “treasure for the last days.”
5. Respect God’s Temple: In a world where spend millions on ornamentation, beauty and fashion with make-up taking center stage, our liturgy suggests very strongly that since our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), we must make concerted efforts to deploy it in God’s service otherwise, it might constitute an obstacle to our heavenly goal.
1. The first reading recounts how Eldad and Medad became beneficiaries of God’s spirit.
2. In the second reading, St. James comes hard on the rich who oppress the poor by refusing to pay them their wages.
3. He goes ahead to declare: “If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ” they would have their reward.
4. The Gospel discloses how Jesus rebuked the Apostles for trying to stop a man who was casting our devils in his name because he was not one of them.
5. Jesus rebuked them saying: “Anyone who is not against us is for us.”
It is important to close with the words of the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden at the 76th General Assembly taking place in New York City. Amid tensions with allies, President Biden urged for unity in his opening remarks noting that we are in a “decisive decade.” On his part, while addressing representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and some Jewish communities during the just concluded 52nd International Eucharistic Congress which held at Budapest, Hungary, Pope Francis urged them: “To be vigilant of the past, to become roots of unity, and to enable the world to blossom.”
In conclusion, like Moses and Jesus, we too must allow the Eldads and Medads of our time to contribute their quota to ecclesial, religious, national and global developments. We must also become roots of unity in a fragmented world by allowing solidarity to blossom. Have a fabulous week.