September 27, 2015 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Jim Miller

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept 27, 2015

Reading 1 Nm 11:25-29

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14

Alleluia cf. Jn 17:17b, 17a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Homily— September 26 & 27, 2015 

   If you read the beginning of chapter 11 of the Book of Numbers you will see the people of the Exodus complaining about the manna that is given to them each day to sustain them and they ask for meat. Moses complains to the Lord saying, “Why are you so displeased with me that you burden me with all this people?”   The Lord then gives some of the spirit that was on Moses to the seventy elders so that Moses has others who share the burden of leadership of the people.

   We don’t know why Eldad and Medad were not present in the gathering when the spirit came down.  Did they oversleep? Were they called away to be with a sick family member? Did they not remember the time of the meeting? At any rate they too received the spirit and that was enough for Moses.

   The gospel has a similar situation in which someone was driving out demons in Jesus name and John, along with other of the apostles, tried to stop him because he was not one of them. “Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. 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.” 

   I grew up in Cascade surrounded by Catholics. I believe the Catholic faith is the best highway to lead me to salvation. I have friends from other faiths that I love and respect. I certainly hope and trust that we will all be in heaven one day.   God can and does work in all religions and even in those with no religion who are open to the truth and living a life of love and care for others. Even if they are not baptized they are showing a desire for baptism by their life.

   St. Thomas in speaking about knowledge said what is important is the truth not who was speaking the truth. In the same way what is important is the good not who is doing the good. Another way to say this is that discipleship is decided by our behavior rather than by our being identified with a particular group or not.  What is crucial to discipleship is how we act. Jesus uses extreme terms to tell us that we must turn from whatever is inconsistent with acting in his name. Any behavior which causes us to sin or to lead others into sin must be cut off. 

   We are all accountable to God for how we treat children and all of the innocent of any age. We are to be loving and respectful and responsible in how we treat children.   It is amazing what children and babies can get us to do by cooing, or a smile, or a cry, or by their zest for life. A little girl at a recent baptism had me doing a dance movement recently though I did not try to keep up to her spinning—she was pure joy and holy innocence. 

   Today we hear about Gehenna, a valley outside the walls of Jerusalem with its name meaning “valley of Hinnom.”  The Jewish kings Ahaz and Manasseh, having completely abandoned the Lord for pagan gods, also offered human sacrifices there, an abomination to the covenant they had with God.  Having been so terribly desecrated, the valley became a dump for Jerusalem.Garbage was burned there, and people could see the glow of the fires at night.  And, if the wind was right, they could smell its stench.  Gehenna easily became our modern image of hell.

   What kind of choices are we making to follow Jesus?   Do you choose to be a full, conscious, active participant in our Mass. We all have to battle against distractions. Do we choose to follow Gospel values rather than merely follow the crowd? Hopefully the visit of Pope Francis to our country and his message has given you a deeper appreciation for our faith. The sacrifices we make for Jesus now are small compared to the pain of living forever in Gehenna. We want to live forever in heaven.

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