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26th Sunday of OT (B)

Rejoice in other’s goodness and gifts

MARK 9:38–43, 45, 47–48

“… Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.”

Sometimes in our parishes and communities, people can operate with a sense of entitlement, ownership and an unwillingness to share when it comes to ministry and service in the Church.

Some of us think that because I’m the altar lady, or the catechist, or the chair of the council, I can begin to think myself as being in control of the parish. Even the clergy can be guilty of this when we think that being parish priest or a deacon means that I am Lord of it all.

Pope Francis calls this “elitism” in the Church, and he believes that it is at the heart of all of the challenges that we are facing in our times.

Sometimes, we also have elitism showing up in our parishes when there is a small group of parish elite, who with their pastors form a “members only club”  in the church that is so closed off to others it is almost impossible for other parishioners to get involved in the life of the parish.

And I believe that today’s readings are calling for us to experience pastoral conversion in this area of community life.

“…Stop them!” This was the cry of Joshua in our first reading. He wanted Moses to command Eldad and Medad to stop prophesying because they weren’t part of the chosen seventy.

Are you like Joshua at times? What is your attitude when you see others who are called and willing to serve but they are not a part of your clique? Do you get territorial or overly protective? How do you react in these moments when you perceive competition? Do you want to cry out “stop them!”?

This attitude of “stop them!” can cause people to not feel welcomed and included, and they turn away from the Church and from God Himself.

There’s a young lady I’m trying to encourage right now but she does not want to hear about Church. She has so much to offer. She is in the prime of her youth; she is so gifted; she has so much to give to God and His people. The attitude and malicious behaviour of Church members have made a great gulf between her, and God and the Church.

Moses answered 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!”

Unlike Joshua, Moses rejoiced in the fact that Eldad and Medad received the Spirit of God; his own hope was that all would be caught up in that grace of God.

Moses was not a stumbling block in the way, but a path to true grace. He wanted all to experience what he experienced and serve as he served. This is the openness and generosity that we are called to emulate.

As Christians, we are challenged to get rid of that sense of elitism and exclusivity, and we should be prepared to find and rejoice in the goodness and gifts of others!

We are responsible for discerning and calling forth the giftedness, and talents that are deeply hidden in the lives of others. We are challenged to open our eyes to see the treasures that lie hidden in the lives of so many in our families, our communities, our work places. We have to help them unearth it and be comfortable using it for the sake of the Kingdom and for the common good.

The fact that God has chosen us does not mean that we have the monopoly in carrying out the work of God in the world! So, let’s break the cliques, end elitism, and let others share in the work of the Lord!

Lord, we ask your forgiveness for the times when we are closed in on ourselves, and when we do not think of others as being worthy enough to share in the work you have called us to.

Open our minds to see the giftedness and talents of others, to see their generosity and willingness to use it for the sake of your kingdom and help us to be sources of encouragement on their journey. Amen! 

The Gospel Meditations for September were by Fr Raymond Francis, Parish Priest, Toco/Matelot cluster.