Sunday: Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Date: September 27, 2009
The reading: Num 11:16-17, 25-29; James 4:7-5:6; Mark 9:3-43, 47-48
The Message: “Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us”
Prepared by: Fr. Michael Orr, msj
Number of Words: 2036
Good afternoon my brothers and sisters in Christ. May the grace of the Lord be with all you so you may come to the knowledge and understanding of the richness that is found in today’s holy reading, which is intended to feed our souls.
A few moments ago, we heard that Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us isfor us.” [Mk. 9:40] What does this Bible passage mean? Are we to understand that Jesus is saying that He is tolerant of those who minister in His Holy Name apart from His friendship? Are we to understand it to mean that Jesus is tolerant of all the Christian Churches? Or that all World religions are equal? No! All world religions are not equal; they are not on the same path to Christ. And based on those in Christian Churches who apply ‘Sola Scriptural in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, this is the conclusion that they have drawn, consequently leading to thousands of divisions within the Christian community.
Today’s First Reading from the Old Testament Book of Numbers [Numb. 11: 16-17, 25-29] opens our eyes to the fact that the position of God’s people in the days of the Old Testament was no different than today’s position of the Church.
First of all, The Lord God told Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of the people and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you do not bear it all by yourself” [Num. 11: 16] Two thousand years ago, Jesus
did the same thing to help Him with His ministry. He “appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. II [Lk.10:1] From these Bible passages in the Old and New Testaments, we come to the understanding that God’s representatives on earth should have a number of people under them to assist them in their ministry of leading the people. Following that example today, all properly consecrated Bishops of the world, who number in the thousands, are assisted in the effective administration of the Body of Christ, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, by faithful priests and deacons.
Secondly, we heard in the First Reading that among the seventy who were registered, Eldad and Medad stayed behind in the camp and prophesied. When Joshua, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, saw this, he reported it to Moses. Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit in them. “[Num. 11 :29]
Now, what we perceive here is that two persons remained in the tent and they continued to do the work of the Lord. [Num. 11 :26] The other sixty-eight, had left the tent, no longer prophesizing. [Num. 11 :25]
In consideration that a lot of the events in the life of Moses foreshadowed the life of Jesus, let us review the similarities between the men who prophesied in the camp and the man who exorcised demons in the Name of Jesus. Moses was chosen by God to free His people from the slavery of Egypt. Jesus was chosen by God to free His people from the slavery of sin. Joshua was one of Moses’ chosen men. John was one of Jesus’ chosen men. By the way, the name “Joshua” means “Savior. ”
Two of those appointed by Moses, filled with the Holy Spirit, continued to prophesies. Can the same be said about the man who was casting out demons in the Name of Jesus? We have no choice but to come to that conclusion because:
First, how could the man cast out demons in the Name of Jesus if he did not know Jesus, had not heard of Him, had not heard His teachings, nor had seen the power of God manifested through Him? Surely, the man could not speak of someone that he did not know! Nor could he do the work of Jesus if he had not heard the teachings of Jesus! Nor would he attempt to cast out demons on his own if he had not seen the power of God manifested through Jesus.
Secondly, how could the man cast out demons if he was not filled with the Holy Spirit? It is not everyone who can cast out demons. In Matthew 17:19, we read that some of the disciples of Jesus were unsuccessful in casting a demon out of a boy. In Acts 19:13-17, we read of the seven sons of a high priest named Sceva who tried to exorcise an evil spirit. They were overpowered by the evil spirit.
From this, it can be concluded that unless one lives by the teachings of Jesus, not some of them, but all of them, in the Spirit of Truth, he cannot do the work of the Jesus, nor be of the Body of Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is/or us.” These Sacred Words shine in perfect unity. There is no division. All are of the same faith.
When the two men prophesied, they did so for the people of God, not for the pagans in the surrounding nations. When the man cased out a demon in the name of Jesus, he did so according to the teachings of Jesus, not the teachings of the Jewish people or of those who adored idols. These men were in perfect unity with the Divine Will of God.
When the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church say that the fullness of salvation can only be obtained through the Church that enjoys the fullness of revelation, it means exactly that!
How can one enter the Kingdom of God if he has not been baptized, consequently not having received the new creation that qualifies him as a member of the invisible Body of Christ?
How can one be strong in the Lord if he does not receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread that gives life to the soul?
How can one obtain the forgiveness of sins if he rejects Jesus’ command for the priests to forgive sins as the ministers of the Church?
How can one say that he belongs to the true Church when there is One Body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, One Lord, one faith, and one baptism? [Eph. 4:4-5]
How can one say that he belongs to the true Church when the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is the only Church that has been instituted by Jesus Christ? Is it not the only Church that has persisted for two thousand years in the purity of its teachings and traditions?
How can one claim to be the true Church when the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven have been given to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? And that whatever it binds on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever he looses on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven?
The Catholic Church can be compared to a banquet meal. Many faith traditions possess parts of the meal, but only the Catholic Church has the fullness of the banquet meal. Without the Sacraments, you are missing essential parts of the glorious banquet the Father has prepared for His people.
Today’s readings emphasize the necessity to do the works of the Lord in order to remain filled with the Holy Spirit. The two men who prophesied were filled with the Holy Spirit. The man who exorcised the demons was filled with the Holy Spirit.
During the Second Reading from the Letter of James, we heard that the rich people should weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to them. They spend their lives accumulating wealth. Every moment of the day, their minds are set on how they can prosper. Some are so obsessed with this worldly desire that they even dream of how to make money. The devil is leading them towards the path of golden coins, surely not towards the golden path of eternal life in the Kingdom of God and salvation.
When one becomes obsessed with money, he cuts comers. If he is a contractor, he will build with low grade material. If he is a retailer, he will pay minimum wages to his employees. If he is dishonest, he will cheat them out of their wages.
When he fie his annual income tax, he will omit some of his revenues. Through these means he grows in fame but in the end, he will have nothing!
Jesus said, II Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the
reward ” What you do towards your fellowmen and women, you do towards Jesus.
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut if off,- it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell.” We all know our human weaknesses and tendencies. Knowing them, we should apply our spiritual minds to overcome such weaknesses and tendencies by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus. We should avoid what causes us to sin. We should run away from those opportunities that seek to destroy our souls.
I should remind all of you here of a sin that has become very popular among Christians. It is the sin of being
judgmental, such leading towards one’s refusal to forgive those who have sinned, even those who have committed offenses against the Church and its members.
The Bible teaches us that we will be judged by the same measure that we judge others! That means ifwe cannot forgive those who have sinned, on Judgment Day, the Lord God shall not forgive us. It means that if we reject sinners from the Body of Christ on earth, the Lord God shall reject those souls from the eternal Body of Christ in Heaven. Considering the extent of the scandal in the Church today and the negative position of many of its people, unless there is a drastic change, many of these Christians shall be lost forever. We must ask ourselves, what would Jesus say to these sinners?
My brothers and sisters, we cannot serve two masters. We will love one more than the other!
This week, let us reflect upon our understanding of the Lord Jesus and His Church that He instituted on earth. Are we with Jesus or against Him? Are we with the teachings of Jesus that are found in the Holy Catholic Church or against them? If we seek with all our souls, our minds, our bodies and our strength to humbly serve and obey the Lord Jesus in the Body of Christ by shining as a light in the world, then we will truly enjoy the hope that leads to eternal joy and peace in the Kingdom of God, such is awaiting those who receive their salvation through Christ.
On September 5, 2000, the Vatican released a theological document called “Dominus Jesus.” Its purpose was to correct Church theologians who were distorting the true meaning of the spirit of ecumenism. In that document, the Roman Catholic Church rejected pluralism that implies that all religions are equal. To teach that one religion is as good as another one endangers the Church’s missionary message that the fullness of salvation can only be found in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That document created a worldwide reaction from a number of Christian denominations. At the same time, some admitted that this document proposed nothing new, that this had always been the position of the Roman Catholic Church. The difficulty that they had was that they had not heard the Vatican expressing it so openly since before Vatican ll.