Homily for the 26th Sunday in ordinary Time
Dearly Beloved, we thank God who has made it possible for us to gather once again around his table. All three readings remind us of God’s desire for us to work together in making our society and our world a better place, not just for a few privileged ones, but for all peoples regardless of race, gender, color, age, financial status, political affiliation, health etc. So sad that our world is divided along these lines; we against them, I against you, they against them. It is more sad when the truth and what is right is relative and subjective to which group or association we belong.
The First Reading from the book of numbers, 11:25-29 offers a helpful biblical precedent for the Gospel we have for our reflection today. It tells of a misguided response on the part of Joshua when two individuals who were not numbered among the designated seventy elders appointed to assist Moses manifested the same spirit of prophecy that the seventy had shown. By contrast is the large-heartedness of Moses in these words.
"Are you jealous for my sake?
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"
Also in the gospel, we see how the disciples were disturbed when they came upon someone who was using Jesus’ name—and hence his authority—to cast out demons. They did their best to put a stop to his activity because, as they explained to Jesus, “he was not one of us.” Instead of approval, what they get is a mild rebuke. Jesus does not mind his name being used by another for a good purpose. The main thing is that human beings are being set free from the power of Satan and reclaimed for the fullness of life. The disciples, on the other hand, are less focused upon the objective - good being done - and more concerned about an outsider’s use of what they see as their own prerogative and possession.
Dearly Beloved, this world can only be better when we acknowledge our need for one another. When a person is not turned down because of gender. When we do not deny a person justice because of the color of his/her skin. When we do not hold back the truth just because the other person is a republican or a democrat. When we do act indifferent because the other person is rich or poor.
What this also means is that God is able to use anybody at all as he pleases to accomplish his plan. Whether the person accepts His Lordship or not. This has nothing to do with whether the person is saved or not. It is therefore not your place to determine who should be used by God and who is not. So far as the person, regardless of gender, race, color, political affiliation, social status is on the side of truth, justice, equality, peace and all the Godly qualities, that person deserves our support and encouragement. What we should all come against are groups and individuals whose actions and inactions have negative consequences of isolation and enslavement. Actions that are inimical to the wellbeing and growth of society especially when that person or group is the one we belong to. Our stand should always be on the side of truth and justice and not on association and groupings.
The second reading from the book of James places much responsibility on the rich and the influential in our society to work towards the relieving of the worst demons in our world, poverty. James in a very strong language chastises the rich in his days and equally in our days.
Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
Are there any rich persons among you? Who is the rich person that James is referring to? James is in no doubt referring to material riches. In the biblical periods and even in our times, people become rich through inheritance. There may not be any ultimate definition for a rich person. Many factors. Consider the following people; Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Tom Brady, Jay Z, Beyonce, Tiger Woods, etc. Are they rich people? Are these people rich in worldly standards.? Definitely Yes. What makes them rich? Their unique talent and ability.
- They undoubtedly work hard to use and manifest these talents,
- the world recognizes their talents and
- assign monetary value to them
- And we see them as rich.
Dearly Beloved, the world may not recognize your unique talent and ability, to assign monetary value for you to be considered rich. But the good news is that God does. God places more than any monetary value when you use whatever talent and ability we have towards the good of others. When you do not sit back and think that it is not your place to help, you do not have what it takes to bring about any change in our world. Let’s use and utilize all the resources at our disposal. One day at a time. A little within each moment.
Dearly Beloved, we are all rich in one way or the other. It may not be necessarily material. Think for a moment about what you have been blessed with. If you are here and sincerely do not know of a talent or ability that you have been so much blessed with, I pray that the good Lord open the mind of your eyes to see, that you may be a blessing to many.