Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

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“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.

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Parents’ Prayer for Their Children

O God the Father of mankind, who hast given unto me these my children, and committed them to my charge to bring them up for Thee, and to prepare them for eternal life: help me with Thy heavenly grace, that I may be able to fulfill this most sacred duty and stewardship. Teach me both what to give and what to withhold; when to reprove and when to forbear; make me to be gentle, yet firm; considerate and watchful; and deliver me equally from the weakness of indulgence, and the excess of severity; and grant that, both by word and example, I may be careful to lead them in the ways of wisdom and true piety, so that at last I may, with them, be admitted to the unspeakable joys of our true home in heaven, in the company of the blessed Angels and Saints. Amen.

O Heavenly Father, I commend my children to Thy care. Be Thou their God and Father; and mercifully supply whatever is lacking in me through frailty or negligence. Strengthen them to overcome the corruptions of the world, whether from within or without; and deliver them from the secret snares of the enemy. Pour Thy grace into their hearts, and strengthen and multiply in them the gifts of Thy Holy Spirit, that they may daily grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and so, faithfully serving Thee here, may come to rejoice in Thy presence hereafter. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=71

COLLECT

O God, who manifest your almighty power

above all by pardoning and showing mercy,

bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us

and make those hastening to attain your promises

heirs to the treasures of heaven.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Nm 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!”

APPLICATION

The close personal interest of God in his Chosen People–not only when bringing them from Egypt to Canaan, but all through their history–must strike even a casual reader of the Old Testament. He was a true Father to them, even though more often than not they proved themselves to be unworthy children. At times he had to chastise them as has any true father to chastise the children he loves, but his anger against them never lasted long. His constant aim was to make of them a loving and obedient family. In the desert, on their journey from Egypt to Canaan, he provided for their bodily and spiritual needs; while in Canaan he helped them to overcome their enemies and establish themselves in the land he had promised their patriarchs; and through his prophets he tried to protect them from the idolatrous practices of their pagan neighbors.

If one had read only the Old Testament story, and had never heard of the New Testament, one would surely find it difficult to understand why God–the God of the universe and of all nations–gave so much of his loving care to this one nation, while practically excluding all others. Such a reader would be like a man who read only the preface to a book while omitting the book itself. The Old Testament is in fact an introduction, a preface to the story of God’s real love for all men. God picked Abraham and his descendants to prepare the way for the coming of his Son as man, in order to make all men sons of God and candidates for heaven. While favoring the Israelites then, he was preparing a far greater favor for all nations–he had not forgotten or neglected them. Through the Israelites they would receive the blessings he had planned from all eternity for the whole human race.

The incident described in today’s reading shows God’s interest in the temporal and spiritual welfare of the Chosen People in their desert wanderings. It is also a foreshadowing of the power of the Spirit which Christ would give to the new Chosen People–the Church, for its spiritual government and guidance. Moses and his assistants were types of Peter and the other Apostles. They and their successors would do for the Church of Christ what Moses and his helpers did for the Israelites–they would teach and guide it on the way of truth, they would lead it on its journey through this life to the gates of eternity.

The scene in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost day, when the Holy Spirit descended with visible signs and effects on the Apostles, was a replica of what happened in the desert to the Chosen People after they had left Mount Sinai; but the Jerusalem event had a meaning and a value which would extend through all time into eternity. The Church was to be taught the full knowledge of God as seen in the incarnation. It was to be taught the true destination of man. That destination was not Canaan or any other earthly kingdom, but unending life in God’s kingdom. The Church was to be taught how to reach that goal. Peter and his assistants were given all the necessary helps which the members of the Church would need for their spiritual life.

God was good to the Israelites and near to them, he is much nearer to us and greater are the divine gifts he has given us. He did not visit us in a cloud, he came in the person of his divine Son and lived among us. That divine Son suffered torments and death in his human nature so that we could live forever. He founded for us a Church, a living institution in which we have all the helps we need, including infallible guidance, when necessary, from the leaders he has appointed for us. They are the successors of Peter and the Apostles. While we live loyally in the Church, striving in all sincerity to carry out its laws, we need have no fear for our eventual salvation.

Among the Israelites were some who resisted the authority of Moses and his assistants even though God had given his spirit to them. In Christ’s Church also are some who challenge the authority of the divinely appointed leaders–the successors of Peter and the Apostles; the disobedient Israelites died in the desert, they did not see nor enter the Promised Land.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1541 The liturgy of the Church, however, sees in the priesthood of Aaron and the service of the Levites, as in the institution of the seventy elders,1 a prefiguring of the ordained ministry of the New Covenant. Thus in the Latin Rite the Church prays in the consecratory preface of the ordination of bishops:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,. .. by your gracious word

you have established the plan of your Church.

From the beginning,

you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation.

You established rulers and priests

and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you. ..2

1 Cf. Num 11:24-25.

2 Roman Pontifical, Ordination of Bishops 26, Prayer of Consecration.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The law of the LORD is perfect,

refreshing the soul;

the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,

giving wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever;

the ordinances of the LORD are true,

all of them just.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Though your servant is careful of them,

very diligent in keeping them,

Yet who can detect failings?

Cleanse me from my unknown faults!

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant;

let it not rule over me.

Then shall I be blameless and innocent

of serious sin.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

READING II

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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.

APPLICATION

The unscrupulous rich to whom St. James is referring most likely were not Christians. He is, nevertheless, warning all Christians to beware of the danger of concentrating on the accumulation of earthly wealth, especially if that wealth is acquired through injustice to the poor and helpless who labor for them. At the same time, he is consoling his fellow-Christians who are suffering and are without hope of redress at the hands of the unscrupulous ones. The sufferings of the Christians will bring them an eternal reward, while the wealth collected by the rich will be as additional instruments in the punishment which judgement so very soon will inflict on them.

There is a reminder for all of us in these words of St. James. We have not here a lasting city; our purpose in life is not to collect the goods of this world in order to spend our years in luxury and pleasure, but to use this world as a stepping-stone toward our real goal in the life hereafter. Unfortunately, this earth with its wealth and pleasures, has a certain attraction for all of us. For some they become so alluring that they obscure, and sometimes exclude, the real purpose of life. While far from approving of this foolish mentality, we can nevertheless understand it. We are creatures of this earth, our life began here and here it would all have ended if God in his goodness had not planned otherwise. If this earth were the sole stage on which our life’s drama was to run its course, then any sane man would try to get all he could out of this life. If death were the end, then surely we should try to pack all the pleasure and luxury possible into our few years on earth.

As Christians we know the true purpose of our life on earth. We know God’s loving plan for us. An eternity of happiness awaits us after death, if we live according to the rules he has laid down for us. With such a future awaiting us, God is not asking too much of us when he demands of us to be relatively detached from the things of earth. “Relatively,” we say, because we may acquire within reason the goods of this world according to our needs, and we may enjoy the pleasures of this life that are according to our state in life, not against the commandments.

For many the difficulty is to control “within reason” the acquisition of worldly goods and to see that these goods are acquired within the laws of justice. Today, in our Western world, because of the solidarity of laborers through their unions and associations, it is not quite so easy for employers to deprive their employees of just wages. What is often forgotten, however, is that the employees can and do at times act unjustly by failing, through idleness and unjustified abstention from work, to earn the wages given them. The worker, as well as the employer, is bound by the laws of justice.

It is perhaps in the underdeveloped countries today that the words of St. James are still literally fulfilled. There the unscrupulous are amassing wealth at the expense, and by the exploitation, of the poor and helpless natives. To our shame, many of these oppressors of the poor are Christian at least in name, but they have forgotten Christian justice and their true purpose in life. As individuals, we cannot do much to right such shameful wrongs, but there are groups formed or being formed in the Western world to promote world justice and peace; by joining such groups and helping them financially, if possible, we can do much to stop such seriously sinful violations of the Christian code and the code of simple human justice.

Today, let us examine our consciences in relation to this world’s goods. Are we acquiring more than we need? Are we acquiring these goods justly? If we are employers: are we paying our workers a just wage? Are we treating them as fellowman, fellow-Christians, fellow-travelers to heaven? If we are employees: are we earning justly the wages we collect? Have we an interest in our employer’s business and property? Do we act justly toward all our fellow-workers? If each of us can answer “yes” to our questions we are laying up “treasure for ourselves in heaven where neither moth nor woodworm destroy them nor can thieves break in and steal them” (Mt. 6: 21).

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,1 the sin of the Sodomites,2 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,3 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,4 injustice to the wage earner.5

CCC 2409 Even if it does not contradict the provisions of civil law, any form of unjustly taking and keeping the property of others is against the seventh commandment: thus, deliberate retention of goods lent or of objects lost; business fraud; paying unjust wages; forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another.6  The following are also morally illicit: speculation in which one contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others; corruption in which one influences the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law; appropriation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enterprise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checks and invoices; excessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation.

CCC 2435 Recourse to a strike is morally legitimate when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit. It becomes morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good.

CCC 2445 Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.7

1 Cf. Gen 4:10.

2 Cf. Gen 18:20; 19:13.

3 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.

4 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.

5 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.

6 Cf. Deut 25:13-16; 24:14-15; Jas 5:4; Am 8:4-6.

7 Jas 5:1-6.

GOSPEL

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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.'”

APPLICATION

There are two very practical lessons we must learn from today’s Gospel: the grave obligation we have of not causing scandal to our fellow-Christians or indeed to any man or woman and secondly, the willingness we should have to sacrifice any earthly possession which is a cause of sin to us.

Scandal, the sin of being a cause or an occasion of another’s sin, is doubly sinful involving one’s own sin and the sin of the person scandalized. Scandal can be caused by word–that is, by teaching or propagating wrong doctrine or by giving sinful advice, and it can be caused by one’s own sinful deeds which may be imitated by others. Those in positions of authority such as parents whose duty it is to bring up their children in the Christian faith, are especially liable to give scandal if they fail to live truly Christian lives. Christian parents who fail to live according to their faith will be held accountable not only for their own sins, but for the sins of their children and perhaps their children’s children for generations to come.

Much, if not all of today’s moral laxity and permissiveness can be blamed on parents who have failed to give the example of true Christian living in the home and in dealings with their neighbors. To children of such parents, Christianity is only a label; it does not inform or inspire their lives, hence they are only nominal Christians. It is true that there may be “black sheep” in the best of Christian homes. When, however, all the children of a home are “black sheep” the whiteness, the sincerity, of the parents of such a home must certainly be called into question. There may be many bad influences at work outside the home but the good example of truly Christian parents can counteract these influences. Let parents see to it that they will not be a cause of scandal and a cause of eternal loss to the children God put into their charge.

The second lesson for all of us in today’s Gospel is that we should ever realize that eternal life is worth any sacrifice which we may be called on to make. The road we have to travel in life is not an easy one. As our Lord says in another place: “Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt. 7: 13). We wish to reach heaven, therefore we must be prepared to follow Christ; we must not allow others to lead us astray but be prepared and determined to conquer and resist our own evil inclinations also.

The world and our own human nature will put many obstacles in our way. For that reason God gave us the Ten Commandments which spell out for us what we are to avoid and what we are to do if we wish to have eternal life. For many, keeping these commandments is no easy task–they make severe demands at times, but our Lord makes it crystal clear that we must endure the hardship because the prize, the reward, is everlasting happiness. When he said that we must be ready to deprive ourselves of a foot or a hand or an eye if they should be obstacles to us, he was speaking metaphorically: to stress that we must be ready if necessary to give up what is nearest and dearest to our nature. The less of earthly luggage we carry with us and the less of earthly attachments we give way to, the easier and safer will be our journey.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission by Ignatius Press.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.1 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”2 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”3

1 Cf. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48.

2 Mt 13:41-42.

3 Mt 25:41.

BENEDICTUS

Becoming Like the Angels

Faith gives joy.  When God is not there, the world becomes desolate, and everything becomes boring, and everything is completely unsatisfactory.  It’s easy to see today how a world empty of God is also increasingly consuming itself, how it has become a wholly joyless world.  The great joy comes from the fact that there is this great love, and that is the essential message of faith.  You are unswervingly loved.  This also explains why Christianity spread first predominantly among the weak and suffering.  To that extent it can be said that the basic element of Christianity is joy…  It is joy in the proper sense.  A joy that exists together with a difficult life and also makes this life livable…  Faith also makes man light.  To believe means that we become like angels.  We can fly, because we no longer weigh so heavy in our own estimation.  To become a believer means to become light, to escape our own gravity, which drags us down, and thus to enter the weightlessness of faith…  Catholics are not promised an “exterior” happiness but rather a deep interior security through communion with the Lord.  That he  is an ultimate light of happiness in one’s life is in fact a part of all this…  We are so alienated from God’s voice that we simply do not recognize it immediately as his.  But I would still say that everyone who is in some sense attentive can experience and sense for himself that now he is speaking to me.  And it is a chance for me to get to know him.  Precisely in catastrophic situations he can suddenly break in, if I am awake and if someone helps me decipher the message.

Pope Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

St. Francis of Assisi’s Vocation Prayer

Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi Feast day October 4th

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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