Bulletin: September 30, 2018

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Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


In these times of increasing disparity between the richest among us and the poorest, and the decline of the middle class, much discussion goes on over what constitutes a “living wage.” With employers crying that higher wages will bankrupt them, and politicians warning that paying a living wage will destroy jobs, we see a dilemma over the treatment of the poor and the middle class. Unions, which once assured workers a voice in negotiations with employers, are becoming weaker and are besieged by corporations and politicians. Where is God in all of this?

The Letter of James speaks clearly and forcefully about the fate of the rich in their dealings with the poor and with workers. “Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers . . . are crying aloud . . . and . . . have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” Those who are oppressed are equated with the suffering Christ, as the rich are addressed, “You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.” Clearly, what we have done to the least ones, we have done to our Lord.


ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LORD

When Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, away from the other prophets, Joshua, Moses’ beloved aide, urges Moses to stop them. Moses replies “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!” He proclaims that grace abounds for all and that the word of the Lord should be proclaimed by all the people.

We see a similar situation in the Gospel of Mark. John tells Jesus that someone who does not follow him with them is driving out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus replies “Do not prevent him . . . For whoever is not against us is for us.” In other words, Jesus is saying the same thing as Moses: Would that all the people prophesied in God’s name!


THE DEVASTATION OF SIN

Jesus goes on to teach about sin and its consequences. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” By “little ones,” Jesus means the humble followers as well as innocent children who love him. Certainly those who have abused children have not caused the children “to sin,” but have made them victims of the worst kind of abuse. These people are worthy of condemnation.

Jesus next points out something so strong in its condemnation of sin that it alarms us when we hear it, knowing that we all are sinners. But Jesus often speaks in metaphors and parables, and it is not necessary to take his teaching about cutting off hands and feet and gouging out eyes literally. It can be taken to mean that if we are guilty of sin, we should make an immediate break from our sinfulness and return to God. Better to cut sin out of our life than to enter into eternal darkness.

There is so much to learn from these readings that we have many things to ponder and to pray about. Take advantage of these wise teachings to become closer to Christ and to treat one another with love and care.

Today’s Readings: Nm 11:25–29; Ps 19:8, 10, 12–13, 14; Jas 5:1–6; Mk 9:38–43, 45, 47–48

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