Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (September 30, 2018): Unexpected partners

Thứ Hai, 01-10-2018 | 00:11:49

Today’s Readings:

Numbers 11:25-29
Ps 19:8, 10, 12-14
James 5:1-6
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.

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.'”

Good News Reflection: Unexpected partners

Jesus says in this Sunday’s Gospel reading that whoever is not against us is for us. The reality of this often takes us by surprise in unexpected partners.

On the one hand, it can seem like someone is against us when really they are not. For example, when someone speaks a truth that we don’t want to hear, that person seems to be our enemy while in fact they are God’s chosen prophet.

At other times, people side with us but only for their own agenda; they’re not interested in assisting the purposes that God has for our lives.

And sometimes we encounter people who are doing the Lord’s work but not in the way that we expect them to, and so we assume that they are not doing what God wants them to do. Have you ever asked someone to pray for a certain intention and he/she prayed the opposite of what you intended?

Years ago, when my husband’s company was laying off most of its employees, I asked a friend to pray for him so that he could find a new job, but she prayed instead for the company so that he wouldn’t have to leave it. My expectations were for him to find a healthier company in which to work. I didn’t like her prayer, but in the end, I realized that she was the only friend who had prayed exactly what the Lord had wanted!

To figure out whether someone is truly against us or is, in fact, God’s instrument for us, we have to separate ourselves from the heat and frustrations of the experience and sit quietly with Jesus. After we vent to him our fears and anger and then forgive those who seem to be against us, we will be open to hearing a more divine assessment of the situation.

Even when someone truly is acting against us, when we sit quietly in prayer, seeking a word of knowledge or wisdom from the Holy Spirit, we can discover that God is for us and that’s what matters most. He gives us encouragement and strength to endure any troubles.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
Who is telling you something that you don’t like hearing? Is it possible that the Lord is speaking through this person? Whom have you trusted that turned out to be a false friend or a bad influence which harmed your faith? Who has been an unexpected instrument of the Lord on your spiritual journey?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
When have you been startled to discover that someone who did not seem to be “of the Lord” was really doing the Lord’s work? What did the Lord accomplish through this unexpected source? What did you learn from it?

Today’s Prayer:

Beloved Lord: Give me a plain heart and an open mind to recognize Your work beyond my understanding. Heal me from every root of envy and pride, so that I can surrender myself to You fully. Amen.

© 2018 by Terry A. Modica

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