Gospel Reflections

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Barbara Barry

Published: September 30, 2018

Today’s readings might be hard to hear.  As the scriptures often do, we are offered both a gift and a challenge in today’s readings.  In the selection from the Book of Numbers we hear that even the elders who remained in camp received the Holy Spirit that was given to the others who were with Moses.  Yes, the gracious love of God bestows the Holy Spirit on each of us.  We are quickly brought back to reality though as we hear in the readings from the letter of James and the gospel of Mark that the gift of the Holy Spirit is no guarantee that we make the right choices in our lives. 

God’s gift to us of the Holy Spirit is for a reason.  God shares God’s creative activity with us.  The Reign of God will only reach its fulfillment if we cooperate and bring it about with our good actions. 

We are surrounded by pain and suffering in our world and in our church.  The situations we see all around us may make it hard to believe that humanity is gifted with the Holy Spirit.  We know that there are dictators who are only looking for power and personal gain.  We know that there are people who, for whatever reason, are selfish and put their own gain first.  But for those of us “ordinary folks” who try to live good lives each day, how do we know if we are making good decisions that will bring about the Reign of God?  There are some questions we can consider when making decisions and choosing what actions to undertake. 

First of all, Jesus tells us in John’s gospel that he has come “that we may have life and have it to the full.”  So if we are making a decision about something, like a question on an election ballot, ask yourself what the life-giving decision would be.

Second, we see another guideline in several stories in the Acts of the Apostles.  When the early believers gathered to make a decision, they considered what was best for the community.  So in our decision-making, will my decision add to the common good?  The common good means everybody – not just people like me.

Third, all the prophets say that the health of a community is measured by the way the poor are treated.  Today’s reading from James tells us to listen to what our actions are telling us.  We must hear the cries of the poor.

Discernment is an on-going activity.  As believers we have the responsibility to seek the truth continually.  We must open our minds and hearts to new insights and deeper knowledge.  As today’s readings remind us – listen to the elders who have wisdom to share.  In fact, strive to be an elder, to be someone who listens to the many voices around us and discerns the action of God.  

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