SEPTEMBER 26. Ord Time B. Wk 26 Sun. Mk 9. 38-43, 45, 47-48
John said to Jesus, ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.
‘If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.
‘But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck. And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where their worm does not die nor their fire go out.’
John had seen ‘a man casting out devils’ and wanted to stop him, but Jesus seems to not be concerned. This was probably because this was a good and charitable act, to free somebody from possession by devils; - so why be concerned?
A good deed is a good deed, no matter who it is that carries it out, so Jesus was able to say; - “Anyone who is not against us is for us!”
The focus was then moved to charitable actions when Jesus refers to somebody giving a drink of water to one of his disciples; - making the point that such a charitable act will certainly be rewarded.
But following on from that the teaching then changes to what happens when someone does an evil act, with examples where sinful actions are performed; - causing harm to a young person’s faith; - or committing sin by using one’s body inappropriately; - the lesson being such actions will not go unpunished!
While these are very basic teachings, they are important truths which Jesus needed to make clear as he was teaching a new way of life where the central theme is being good, and kind, to others; - with the emphasis being on “loving God and neighbour!”
In contrast, the emphasis of the Pharisees and scribes was on keeping the laws which they had made; - such as not doing any form of work on the sabbath, or washing ones hands up unto the elbow before eating, or sitting in the correct places at table.
The Pharisees saw “goodness” as following the laws that they enacted; - whereas Christ spent a good deal of time “breaking their laws,” because his focus was on love and care of one’s neighbour; - not on following man-made rules!
This is something we discover to be true from our own experience; - where we have no difficulty “breaking the rules” when we find a situation where somebody needs our help; ;- such as not going to Mass when Charity towards a neighbour requires we do something else!
Gospel Acclamation cf John 17:17
Your word, O Lord, is truth:
make us holy in the truth.
First reading Numbers 11:25-29 ·
If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets!
The Lord came down in the Cloud. He spoke with Moses, but took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the spirit came on them they prophesied, but not again.
Two men had stayed back in the camp; one was called Eldad and the other Medad. The spirit came down on them; though they had not gone to the Tent, their names were enrolled among the rest. These began to prophesy in the camp. The young man ran to tell this to Moses, ‘Look,’ he said ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Then said Joshua the son of Nun, who had served Moses from his youth, ‘My Lord Moses, stop them!’ Moses answered him, ‘Are you jealous on my account? If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets, and the Lord gave his Spirit to them all!’