Homily 26th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Num 11:25-29; Ps 19:8.10.12-14; Jas 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48.
Shared Mission of Christ to All!
The readings of today strike on several spiritual and pastoral notes, particularly on the note of the shared mission of Christ. This reminds us of the current recurring theme of inclusiveness that Pope Francis recently carries to the Philippines, Cuba, and United States and to the world as a whole. Imagine what it would have taken the Holy Father to successfully arrived in the United States, the entire visits to the lowly and the highly, the speeches, Masses, in the Washington DC, New York and at Philadelphia – the cooking, the preparations, the securities- all these required shared spirit of responsibilities, dialogue, and leadership among various agencies and cultures!
The 1st reading of today ( Num 11:25-29) speaks of the spirit of Moses’ been shared among other seventy elders, particularly between Eldad and Medad. Both of these men were heard and seen prophesying outside the camp, in the periphery of the tents of “the cathedral,” because God had given them the spirit! In this scriptures, notice, it was Joshua, Moses’ associate and would be successor who launched that human complaint saying, “Moses, my lord stop them.” But Moses said, “Are you jealous for my sake?”
In our mission and duties we are invited to listen to Moses. Of course, this is the same Moses that Pope Francis recently referenced as our model in his addressed to the joint Congress of the United! A patient and unjealous Moses willing to prophetically share his gifts, willing to include others- the rich and the poor, the low and the high in the mission of the Lord- as against the jealous ones who objected the participation of Eldad and Medad. This can easily happen to any of us, especially those who hang around the corridors of power and leadership!
The Mission of the Church, in our dioceses, parishes, stations, towns and cities, would always belong to Christ, not to us. An Inclusive and a universal! Are we willing to include others- the poor, the rich, men, women, children, and the youths- everyone in the mission of the Church that transcends jealousy and human barriers!
Similar message is heard in the Gospel (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48). There is an unknown exorcist who went about healing, exorcising! John steps- in like Joshua in that Book of Numbers and complaint to Christ, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus’ response to John should be our guide. Jesus says, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak of ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” How often do we not consciously or unconsciously prevent and exclude others, in our speeches, gestures, looks, and body languages!
In fact very easy for gifted people to exclude others or abuse their gifts and offices. Joshua and John were gifted people. Joshua would succeed Moses. John was one of the closest disciples of Jesus! He was young and an athletic. He arrived at the tomb of Jesus before Peter. Quite gifted! Gifted people, nations and institutions can easily fail to recognize the gifts of others. For example, it is very easy due to jealousy, for good preachers to ignore the preaching skills of others. For the same reason, it is very easy for good writers to ignore the writing skills of others. It is very easy for good singers to ignore the singing talents of others. It is very easy for sport stars to ignore (perhaps out of jealousy, ignorance, indifference, insensitivity) the sporting gifts of others- especially those on the periphery! Also as noted in the 2nd reading, the material wealth that God has blessed us with must be seen as a gift. They should be well utilized and distributed not abused.
The readings of today as a whole, invite those who deny workers their wages and exploit the poor and the voiceless to rethink their choices. It also invite those in leadership positions, both inside and outside the church to see the missions especially of the of the gospel as a mission of many parts, yet with one body- the Church- given to be shared among her members, particularly with with those in the margins of the community, as physically, pastorally and spiritually exemplified by Pope Francis in his recent global pastoral visits!