Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 26
May Each of Us Open Our Hearts to the One True God, Who Constantly Calls Us to Himself, for It Is in Our Fiat to His Invitation Where We Find Our Eternal Salvation.
Whether one is married or single, or is committed to a life of consecrated service to the Church – ministering to the needs of the Body of Christ, to live each day as God would have us live it, to live each day in harmony with God’s will, means that we must first surrender from ourselves our own ego, our own pride, and ultimately realize that we are not the master of own destiny.
For we first belong to God, and when one’s heart, mind and soul are open to God’s call within us, we respond to it in ways which may seem foreign to the thinking of many in today’s secular culture, for the world does not recognize the ways of God, nor does it think as God thinks.
And throughout the millennia, beginning with the days of Abraham, God has called both men and women to respond to His will – all for the betterment of mankind, all the while guiding us into a more intimate, loving and holy relationship with Himself.
In today’s First Reading from the Book of Numbers, Moses says to Joshua “Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” And Jesus says to John in today’s Gospel, “…whoever is not against us is for us.”
There is a very old folk proverb which even I have used from time to time, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for the day!” In essence, what this ancient adage states is that whatever our personal desires may be, it is God’s plan for us which takes precedent.
And conforming our way of thinking to God’s way is not always easy, for there are always those human elements of ego and pride, maybe even jealousy that crops up and wounds us at times. And we see this at play in today’s Gospel. Even John, who is called the “beloved” of our Lord, says, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Were the disciples trying to protect our Lord’s image, or were they just jealous because someone else was doing something good? Our Lord’s answer was quick and to the point, “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.”
And under similar circumstances, Moses says to Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake?” And when Moses said, “Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” – he could just as well have been speaking about each of us.
In other words, “Would that all the people of the Lord place God first in their lives! Would that all the people live a life of sanctity and holy righteousness!” Unfortunately, we know only too well that when people’s lives are driven by secularism and the greed which is oftentimes associated with materialistic thinking, God is very often placed near the end of one’s priorities in life.
A prime example can be found in the nature of many of the programs we find on television, or the subject matter we find in many movies or in many stage productions or comedy skits – for much of the material presented to the viewer is saturated with deviant behavior, promiscuity and immoral conduct.
We find actors and athletes, who are oftentimes the heroes of our young children, caught in compromising situations or arrested for using or selling drugs. And many politicians, regardless of government or party affiliation, are caught in circumstances in which lawful and moral conduct are sometimes held in low regard, all for the purposes of material gain and self-gratification.
Money, fashion, drugs, sex – each of these elements by themselves are not intrinsically evil and, when used appropriately or when medically necessary, or when confined to a relationship between husband and wife, can enhance our lives and provide a sense of security, peace and happiness.
We need to earn the money that is necessary to pay our household bills and provide for the current and future needs of our families. There is nothing wrong with buying clothes that make us feel good about ourselves, when bought in moderation.
Medical drugs, when used to ward off illnesses, or to help us deal with issues related to the normal aging process, are necessary for good health.
Sexual intimacy, when confined to the relationship ONLY between a husband and wife in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, is an emotional good for the marital relationship and holy in the eyes of God, for the covenant of marital love is in imitation of the covenant of Christ’s Love for His Bride, the Church.
All of these elements are good in themselves, except when we start giving them such importance that they take on a life of their own – where money, fashion, drugs or sex begin to own us. It is when they begin to replace our worship for the One True God, and when these elements begin to become godlike in our own lives, that we begin to separate ourselves from God’s Love for us.
Sadly, in this culture in which we live today, when we give witness to the teachings of Christ, when we show Christian love for all members of human society, especially to the most vulnerable – to the aged and to the unborn, when we speak in defense of sound moral values found in traditional marital relationships between one man and one woman, we are soundly criticized for our views, and, in some cases, even persecuted for standing up for what we know and believe to be right.
In our Second Reading today from Saint James’ Letter to the Christian communities to which he was writing, James was “pulling no punches” in describing the evils associated with the excesses with which some people were living, for he writes: “You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.”
Even our Lord, in some very graphic language, which we are NOT to interpret in the literal sense, is describing how important it is to separate ourselves from all those elements of this world which would cause us to fall into grievous sin. For the results of such sin, if unforgiven, is everlasting torment, where, as Jesus describes in His own words, “…where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”
I can only assume that your thinking is the same as mine – Hell is one place where I would definitely NOT like to go, not even for a quick visit! Yet, there were some saints who were given the grace of visiting Hell once to better understand the very horror of its reality, so they could relate the experience to God’s children still living and those yet to be born – and they shrieked in utter terror at what they saw!
So then the question begs itself to be asked, “How do we protect ourselves from the idolatries of this world?” As Paul writes to the Church of Rome and also to each one of us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It is in the very act of placing Christ at the very center of our lives and at the very heart of everything that you and I do which helps us to stay focused on the eternal prize which awaits each of us! And it is the nourishment of the Sacrament of Eucharist, received worthily, which becomes the very Source and Summit of our Christian life of faith!
For the Eucharist is our spiritual food and drink which becomes our nourishment throughout our individual journeys through this life, through this valley of tears on this side of Heaven. The Body and Blood of Christ is a gift which comes from God and brings us to Him, so that we may be in communion with His Love!
The Eucharist becomes the Source of our strength which helps us to stay detached from idolatry which is so prevalent and powerful in today’s society. It is the Source of our strength of faith which allows us to give witness, through words and deeds, to all that is holy, to all that is truly God-like.
May the words of Moses echo within our hearts over and over again in our daily pilgrimage through life, “Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit [upon us] all!”
Would that each of us open our hearts to the One True God, who constantly calls us to Himself! For it is in our fiat, our total surrender and acceptance of His invitation, where we find our eternal salvation!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…when a young man ran and reported to Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,’ Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, ‘My lord, Moses, stop them.’” (Numbers 11:27-28)
- “But Moses answered him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the people of the LORD were prophets! If only the LORD would bestow his spirit on them!’” (Numbers 11:29)
- “John said to [Jesus], ‘Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.’ 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.’” (Mark 9:38-39)
- “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
- “You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.” (James 5:5)
- “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.” (Mark 9:43-45)
- where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:47-48 ~ Isaiah 66:24bc)
- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
- “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’” (John 6:35)
- “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:54-56)
Prayer for the Day
“O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidenceSaint Padre Pio
and trust in Your Divine Mercy,
and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings
which bring immense goodness
to our souls and that of Your Church.
“Help us to love You with a pure and contrite heart,
and to humble ourselves beneath Your Cross,
as we climb the mountain of holiness,
carrying our cross that leads to Heavenly glory.
“May we receive You with great faith
and love in Holy Communion,
and allow You to act in us,
as You desire, for Your greater glory.
“O Jesus, Most Adorable Heart
and Eternal Fountain of Divine Love,
may our prayer find favor before
the Divine Majesty of Your Heavenly Father. Amen.”