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Monday, 21 September 2015

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Sixth (26th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 27 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Sixth (26th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 27 2015)
Theme: Appreciating the Good from Another  

Last week I travelled to Port Harcourt to see a friend. One evening, we decided to take a stroll down the street. Along the line, something caught my fancy. There were serious and loud shouts of prayer booming from heavy public address systems at three strategic places close to each other. It was like a competition venue and the noise suggested a heavily crowded congregation, but I was surprised to see only three persons in each of the small churches. Sincerely, they had good public address systems which many Catholic Churches here in Nigeria do not have. I wondered why they should possess such good gadgets while so many Catholic Churches that are heavily populated still battle with faulty microphones and speakers. Simply put, I must confess that I was jealous and angered with their development.

If we are sincere, we realize that most often, we are not too comfortable with other people’s progress and development especially when we think we should be better but the contrary becomes the case. This results in jealousy and anger. This was exactly what we saw in the gospel reading (Mark 9:38-43, 47-48). The disciples prior to that time were unable to cast out the demon in a boy brought to them (cf. Mark 9:18). For this reason, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith. It was not long after this that they saw another man doing exactly what they have been commissioned to do (cf. Mark 6:6) but failed in the case of the demonic boy. Therefore, they became jealous of the man, got angry with him and tried to stop him.

John was perhaps delegated by the apostles to report the incident to Jesus as his beloved disciple but Jesus used the opportunity to teach them a very important lesson about the gifts of God. The gift of God is a like wind that blows wherever it wills. It is like a kite that lands wherever the wind takes it to. God is open with His gifts to those who sincerely need them and are willing to work with them. Even when human constraints try to place limitations, God is there to intervene because all He wants is for His will to be done. That is why even without being lucky to be chosen as a disciple, Jesus still allowed the young man to possess and make use of the gift of healing in his name. All we need to do is to have the right intention.

However, Jesus’ response in the Gospel confirms the position of Moses as regards the gift of God as we saw in the first reading (Numbers 11:16-17,25-29). Seventy-men were prepared to receive the Spirit of Moses but human constraints prevented two men from appearing at the Tent yet they received the Spirit and also prophesied to the jealousy and anger of other Israelites especially Joshua. Beloved friends, this is meant to teach us something great about God. God’s ways are not our ways and He is infinite in all perfections. That is why we should not limit or predict God. He can raise up anything anywhere to do for Him those things we have refused to do. He is free to bless anyone materially and/or spiritually. This should not bring about the spirit of jealousy or anger even when we are less favoured because all works are to the glory of God. We become jealous of the good of others when we work for our own glory but working for the glory of God will enable us appreciate and encourage the good we see in others. But do not be afraid when you think you fall outside the line, God can still use you if you are prepared.

On another note, we should also remember that the good we see in us be them material or spiritual are for the good of those around us including those who are annoyed with us for possessing such good. We must not use them to intimidate or humiliate others but instead use them to build up the people of God. That is why St James in the second reading (James 5:1-6) warns the rich to be careful of the paths they thread especially against the poor.

Therefore beloved friends, our target is to be with God where we will love Him forever. For this reason, He wants us to use the good we receive from Him to prove our love for Him and our neighbour. So do not allow this good (gifts) to deprive you of eternal life. It is better to go to heaven as a poor man than to go to hell as a rich man. This is the meaning of cutting off that part that will lead you to sin or make you lead others to sin. Let us curtail our excesses and follow the dictates of the gospel for as the psalmist says “the precepts of the Lord gladden the heart” (Psalm 18). God loves you.

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