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Scripture Reflections - September 26
26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Numbers 11:25-29
James 5:1-6
Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

No matter how good a leader is, many people will grumble and complain about his leadership. In today’s first reading from the Book of Numbers, Moses was discouraged at all the complaints he receives from the Israelites. “If only we had meat to eat,”they cried. God, seeing Moses’ frustration, decides to lighten the burden of leadership. He pours the divine Spirit also on 70 elders who will share Moses’ authority. Now, two of the elders were not present at the ceremony but received the Spirit anyway. When they began prophecying on their own, Moses’ young assistant, Joshua, became envious. “Moses, stop them!” he cried. To Joshua’s surprise, Moses praised the two and told Joshua he wished everyone had that gift.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, teaches the same lesson. When a few of his disciples complained to Jesus that some, not of their company, were driving out demons, Jesus, like Moses, rebuked his followers for being so exclusive. “Whoever is not against us, is for us” became Jesus’ rule for his Church.

Years ago, many pastors did not welcome help from the laity. Often, they did not even allow their priest assistants to use their talents and their energy to the fullest. Those days are gone forever. With the current priest shortage, the help of deacons is absolutely essential to the smooth running of a parish. In addition, we have many hundreds of the laity who have trained and commissioned as lay ministers. Pastors now urge all Catholics to take seriously their baptismal consecration and become active in church ministries.

Those who respond are welcomed with open arms as they learn how to visit the sick and shut-ins, how to teach the beautiful truths of the Gospel to our children, and how to work with our youth, to name just a few.

By opening up the apostolate, our Church is assured of longevity. Christ promised to remain with it until the end of time, and that “the gates of hell” would not prevail against it. Our readings teach very clearly that the God never intended his church to be an “old boys club,” but that all baptized Catholics have a right and an obligation to actively share in its role of teaching, governing, and sanctifying.

Under the guidance of our hierarchy, including bishops, priests, and deacons, may our parishes became ever holier, boldly proclaiming the Gospel, and witnessing to Christ’s great love and concern for all.

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