The 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 26 September 2021
Lectionary Readings: Num 11:25-29; Ps 19:8,10,12-13,14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Theme: A call to truth and joy
The gospel for this Sunday presents us with a question about the teaching of Jesus. As we read it, we ponder what it means to be a true follower of Christ. We often see problems and ultimately, sometimes unconsciously, start to judge others and claim the right theology and the right answers. However, our good intention to defend God and His teaching is not what He seems to want from His disciples. This scene is a powerful statement against any kind of group or institutional arrogance. John is corrected for placing his own limited measure on the working of the Spirit of God. He suffered from the very fault for which Jesus castigated the Pharisees (3:4). A tree is to be judged by its fruit. If people are doing wonderful things that draw others to Christ, we can be sure that the Spirit of God is working in them. (M. Fallon, p.173). Jesus wants us to see the bigger picture. He knows our strengths and, even more, He knows our shortcomings. We can distort the gospel in our preaching, engaging people’s longing for God and pointing them in the wrong direction. We can, wittingly or unwittingly, use spiritual power to attract others to ourselves, instead of encouraging them to be united to God. (M. Fallon, p.174). Jesus wants us to have hearts that are on fire for God. The Responsorial Psalm reminds us that true joy is to be found only in the life of truth, and the truth of God “is perfect and refreshing the soul” (Ps 19:8). Our soul and all our being need to be at peace and free from judgment to experience being anew and refreshed by God, and inevitably this will radiate in our actions as true joy. Joy is the result of truth lived. Misery is the result of lies lived. (M. Kelly, p.89). The unconditional love of God, however, is bigger than our miseries, which usually come out of our self-centeredness and strip us of true joy. The long list of our actions and attitudes which God needs to deal with is presented by James in our second reading. He warns the follower of Christ, naming their miseries, and calls us to stay focused on God’s teaching.
As I reflect on all the readings of today, I think about my “here and now”. The global Pandemic, with its challenges, losses, and experiences of fears, has left us quite “stripped of joy”. People of different faiths and values have been challenged by the questions of which rules and restrictions to follow in their own respective countries, what is right and wrong; when we should trust those in authority; and when to question them. Quite often we hasten to judgment and forget that we are not the only ones who suffer. The readings today remind us that the work of God is truth and that living this truth will bring us joy. Perhaps the challenge for this week might be to name the things that are keeping us self-focused and find ways of expressing kindness to and appreciation of others.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. In what ways do you challenge yourself to live the life of truth? 2. How do you express an appreciation for the kindness of others towards you?
Bibliography: Fallon, M.; The Gospel according to St Mark: an introductory commentary (Chevalier Press: 2009); Kelly, M; A call to joy – living in the presence of God (Harper Collins: 1997)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Sr Grace Roclawska csfn, Australia, Bat Kol Alumna: 2018