The Spirit of God Enables Us To Do Good
Readings: 1st: Nu 11, 25-29; Ps 18; 2nd: Jam 5, 1-6; Gos Mk 9, 38-43. 45. 47-48
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
As we celebrate on this twenty sixth Sunday of ordinary time, we thank and praise God for the gift of his Spirit to his ministers. These include men and women of all nations and beliefs who have resisted evil and manifested the true Spirit of God in their lives and actions.
Today, our first reading and gospel have a lot in common. Both of them are manifestations of the fact that God has no favorite (Act 10, 34). He chooses and uses those that please him for his mission. It also proves that the Spirit of God is the one that empowers to do good. In both readings, we see men outside the “camp and the group of disciples” prophesying and preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit; and also casting out devils in the name of Jesus respectively. We also see the zealous and envious disciples getting afraid and worried. Being afraid for their own positions and the authority of their masters, they made efforts to stop them from participating in the ministry and mission of God.
In both cases, Moses and Jesus refused to yield to the fears and request of their disciples. This is because, it is in line with the will of God that all men should receive the spirit of God and be motivated to do good works. This good work includes, prophesying and preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. This was why Moses responded: “…If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets and, the Lord gave his Spirit to them all.” And Jesus told his disciples: “You must not stop him; No one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me…” So for both Moses and Jesus, it was a good development. Their responses to their disciples simply show that they were opposed to the spirit of envy over the gifts of others. It also shows how modest and meek their hearts are.
Today, James warns us against oppression, suppressions and injustices of all kinds against the weak, the poor and those who do not belong to our, group, fold or class. Rather than oppress and suppress them, we should build and, help them to grow up physically and spiritually. We should not strangle the true spirit of God at work in others due to envy or by being overzealous. Doing this means being unjust like the oppressive rich that James condemned in today’s second reading. Rather, we should be messengers of justice, peace, progress, charity, mercy and compassion. This is what the Holy Father Pope Francis is calling all Christians and Catholics at all levels of faith to do.
Rather than oppress and suppress others and their gifts, we should do everything possible to uplift their human dignity. To do this we must be open and docile to the spirit of God. Like the disciples of both Moses and Jesus in our readings today, while being zealous in God’s work, we must avoid the fear of losing our positions or authority. We must also avoid envy which moves us to try to suppress God’s gift to others. Instead, we should read the signs of the times and allow God to be God in his people.
Finally, another important lesson we must learn today is that God works in mysterious ways and does not reason like us humans. Hence, he tells us through the prophet Isaiah: “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts. Just as the heavens are higher than the sky so are my thoughts and my ways higher than yours”(Ish 55, 8-9). This is simply to say that by allowing his spirit to operate in those outside the camp of Moses and the disciples of Jesus, God sees much better than us humans. He chooses whoever he wants and empowers him or her for his mission. Also, it is his desire that all of us his children be filled with his spirit in order to work for the establishment of His Kingdom in all hearts.
Peace be with you!