26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)


26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B) Mc 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48

September 30, 2018

“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”.

Long time ago, when I had been prepared and was ready to make my First Holy Communion, I remember when my mom gave me as a religious memorabilia a beautiful crucifix. Time passed, and when I went back home, the crucifix had an arm and a leg broken. I never fixed it; I put it on the wall, for I remembered a poem I had read before: "Leave me broken … I’d like that when you look at me broken like this, you’d remember many of your brothers and sisters who are broken, poor, indigent, oppressed, sick, mutilated (…) Without arms: because they are incapacitated, left without any means to work; without feet: because they are impeded to walk their way; without face: because they have been robbed of their honor and prestige. They are forgotten (…) those who see them turn away since they are like me, a broken Christ!" I then realized that Jesus would reach others through my hands. Somebody used to say when he saw people in trouble, “God is busy. Can I help?”

When we read the Gospel, there is no doubt why the disciples at his time, and we Christians today call Jesus Teacher. By the matter of fact, this is a name he was usually given to. And the Evangelist Mark makes sure we do not miss the teaching we find in his Gospel today, a series of teachings he spoke at different times.

Our Scripture readings today give us a variety of reflections. One of them is tolerance. The book of Numbers tells us an incident of jealousy of some Israelites in the desert. The same subject is true in the Gospel, besides many sayings of Jesus that Mark presents together. James´ reading is, as common in his letter, an issue related to social justice.

We hear that Eldad and Medad were not in the tent with the other 70 who received the Spirit, sharing Moses´ spiritual power, during the desert experience of the Israelites. We had heard that Moses had complained to God about his failure to take care of the people´s needs by himself since he was already too old and the people had grown so large. God listened to Moses´ request and decided to share Moses´ ministry with the 70 elders. Eldad and Medad were absent when the others received the spirit of prophecy. Given that the two men had been chosen, they receive the spirit of Moses anyway. “Joshua … said to Moses … ´stop them.´ But Moses answered him, ´Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!.” Moses promotes an attitude of tolerance.

In Mark´s Gospel we also find a teaching of tolerance. Some man was engaged in exorcism in the name of Jesus. He was not one of the Twelve. He could maybe have heard Jesus sending the 72 to preach the Gospel. The Twelve said, “Stop him” Jesus asked, “Why? He is doing good work.” “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”

Jesus did not follow the advice of the twelve; he clearly declared: "Whoever is not against us is for us," then he added, "Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward."

We accept more tolerance now than it was in years past. Centuries ago there was much bigotry among Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslins. Thanks God we are living different times know. We are, and we even should be more tolerant. In the Vatican II document, The Church in the Modern World, the Catholic Church declared that “all who are open to God, who are following their consciences are themselves, in fact, members of the Church, saved by Jesus Christ.” Would not be them today the broken Christs, the poor, the indigent, the oppressed, the sick, the mutilated, who call us to be tolerant and generous?

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