Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary TimeB
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary TimeB

 

Reading 1: (Num 11:25-29)

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses.
Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses,
the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders;
and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad,
were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp.
They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent;
yet the spirit came to rest on them also,
and they prophesied in the camp.
So, when a young man quickly told Moses,
"Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,"
Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses' aide, said,
"Moses, my lord, stop them."
But Moses answered him,
"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!"

Reading 2: (Jas 5:1-6)

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.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

Gospel: (Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)

At that time, 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.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
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 if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: We should eliminate jealousy and greed from our family and community.

            Taking side, jealousy and greed easily make people to forget their ultimate goal and to expel those who don’t have the same attitude, do the same things or belong to their party. The faithful must remember that their most important duty is to do all that they can for the Gospel to be expanded to all the earth; but the way to do it depends on the grace which God gives to people. They need to avoid the attitude thinking that only they are important or only their way is correct. They shouldn’t be jealous when others are equal to or more important than them because they can’t do everything and they also have no strength to endure all pressures. Therefore, God needs many eager workers to work in His vineyard.

            Today readings teach people to eliminate the attitudes of party, jealousy and greedy. In the first reading, Moses desired the divine spirit is given to all the Israelites so that they stop complaining about God and him. In the second reading, St. James thought that all material things in the universe belong to God and are given to human beings; no one has the right to hoard up and to store up for himself while others are hungry and poor. In the Gospel, when John asked Jesus to prevent someone who expelled a demon in his name because that person didn’t belong to Jesus’ disciples, he told him not to prevent that person because “whoever is not against us is for us.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The divine spirit works everywhere and in everyone.

1.1/ The divine spirit is given to seventy elders, included Endad and Medad.

            (1) Seventy elders: The total number of the Israelites who got out of Egypt is about one million of people. They continued to ask, to complain and to rebuke Moses about their lacking of food, water, meat and vegetable. Moses was so tired of their complaints so he said to God that he was no longer be able to lead them by himself. God understood Moses’ pain and tiredness, so He told Moses to choose seventy elders, those who were advanced in their age, to share his responsibility (Num 11:17). Today passage reported, “The Lord then came down in the cloud and spoke to him. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, he bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.”

            (2) Endad and Medad: At that time, there were two people in the camp who are Endad and Medad. Both of them were registered in the list of the seventy elders, but for some reason, they didn’t come to the tent. The divine spirit also descended upon them and they began to prophesize in the camp.

1.2/ Joshua’s jealousy: When this thing happened, a young man came out and announced to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

            (1) Joshua’s reaction: Joshua, son of Nun, who lived with and served Moses from his youth, said to Moses, “Moses, my lord, stop them.”

            (2) Moses’ reaction: Moses understood the divine spirit, like God, acts and controls all people at everywhere, not only on those selected; so, he answered Joshua: "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!"

            We have a tendency to limit God’s works or the Holy Spirit’s works only on some people or the Church; and forget that their works cover all the universe. The Scripture proved many times that God’s power was also at work on the Gentile kings, such as: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia so that they must do what He wants. The divine spirit also worked in the Gentiles who weren’t even be baptized, such as Cornelius’ family, a Roman officer (Acts 10).

2/ Reading II: God’s material things in the universe must be shared by all.

2.1/ The greedy shall be punished: A very bad habit of people is avarice without limit. The greedy want to hoard up material gains for themselves in all possible ways without caring for others’ necessary needs. St. James witnessed cases in which the rich exploited the poor in his community, he condemned them as follows, “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. You have stored up treasure for the last days.”

2.2/ Other sins which are also caused by human greed: The greedy aren’t only committed the sin of hoarding up material things, but also commit other sins, such as:

            (1) Injustice: ''Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts."

            (2) Wasting their money on immoral sins: While the poor have no food to eat nor money for their necessary needs, the rich waste their money in casinos or prostitution. St. James condemned their unjust acts: “You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.”

            (3) Killing the righteous: To satisfy their greed, the rich get rid of all those who prevent, criticize, or accuse their sins, as St James accused them, ''You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.”

3/ Gospel: "Whoever is not against us is for us."

3.1/ Jesus’ disciples need to be generous: The apostle 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." The reason why John made this petition because he wanted the priviledge to expel demons is limited only to the circle of Jesus’ disciple. If everyone can do it, Jesus’ disciples shall have nothing which is special to people.

            (1) Jesus’ disciples need to avoid monopoly: Jesus replied to John: "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." Jesus’ principle is that one can’t be contradictory to himself, either he has or doesn’t have; he can’t choose both. In order to expel demons, one must have a firm faith in Jesus and must speak in his name to expel them. If a person has no faith and doesn’t use Jesus’ name, he can never expel demons. The faith one has or loses, requires a long time; not only in a short period of time. Therefore, when someone expels demons, he already had his faith in God; why do we need to prohibit them?

            Moreover, the purpose when Jesus chose the disciples is to train them to preach the Gospel, not to pay attention to position or right of an individual or a group. Jesus gives them the power to expel demons to light up people’s faith, not as a priviledge to protect. The party often causes people not to pay attention to the purpose, but to fame, right; and to easily exclude others from their group.

            (2) People have freedom to accept the truth: We need to be generous to accept people’s freedom. When preaching the Gospel, Jesus only presents the truth to convince people to believe in him, together with some miracles; but if they refuse, Jesus doesn’t force them to believe in him. Similarly with us, we can only present the truth or analyze the benefits if they live according to it and the damages if they don’t, then it is up to them to decide if they want to follow or not. We can’t force people to accept our will.

            (3) In the journey to search for the truth, there are many ways to lead people to the truth and to light up people’s faith in God, not only a single way. Let God work in them and let them have time to recognize the truth. We need to avoid the attitude that only our way can help people to recognize the truth and to attain salvation.

3.2/ Love and good works are two efficient ways to preach the Gospel.

            (1) A disciple must help people in need: Jesus taught: "Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward." Jesus’ religion is the religion of love. Jesus’ disciples can’t love God without others. The standard which God uses to judge people is to help people (x/c Mt 25). Whoever helps other, he helps God, and shall inherit God’s kingdom and the eternal life.

            (2) A disciple must lead by good examples, not bad ones: Jesus taught: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea." Same thought as above: whoever refuses to help others, he refuses to help God Himself; he shall not be inherited His kingdom. If he doesn’t do good deed to others, but also to prevent them to come to God by their evil deeds, they shall certainly be casted outside.

3.3/ Jesus’ disciples must be free from sins: The next five sentences have a textual problem, the commentaries consider vv. 44 and 46 as similar to v. 48, “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” The five verses should be read as follows: “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.  44   45 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.  46  47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, 48 where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'” (Mk 9:43-48). There are at least two ways to understand this passage:

            (1) According to the Fundamentalism, those who emphasize on the literal sense: Jesus wants people to cut off parts of the body that caused them to sin.

            (2) People must recognize the dangers of sin: Sins can lead people to hell; therefore, people need to find all possible ways to eliminate sins from their life.

            If we understand as literal as the Fundamentalism, people might have nothing more to cut because they often sin. Jesus wanted people to recognize the dangers of sins because they might lead them to hell and not to attain their ultimate goal of life.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - God’s spirit is at work everywhere and in all people. We should not limit his works in ourselves or community, or only in the Church.

            - The important goal of our life is to help God’s kingdom to come and His will be done on earth and in heaven. To do so, we need the co-operation of many people.

            - All material things in the universe belong to God and are given to all. We shouldn’t hoard up things for ourselves while others are hungry and in need.

            - We have a duty to set good examples for others by our virtuous life. We must also try to avoid sins and evil deeds which lead others to lose their faith. 

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