Scripture Studies, September 30, 2018 Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 30, 2018
Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

This week, the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time, both the Gospel and the first reading attest to the fact that the Holy Spirit will not be confined by or to an institution. God, the Holy Spirit is always supremely free to work in whom ever He chooses and how ever He chooses. This must prompt me to ask myself how much freedom have I given The Holy Spirit to work in my life? James reminds us that we must not grow rich neglecting the rights and needs of others. How well have I respected the rights of others in furthering my own interests?

First Reading: Numbers 11:25-29

25 The LORD then came down in the cloud and spoke to him. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, he bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied. 26 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. 27 So, when a young man quickly told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,” 28 Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, “Moses, my lord, stop them.” 29 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!”

NOTES on First Reading:

* 11:25 Prophesied is used here not in the sense of telling the future but of ecstatic or charismatic phenomenon as in 1 Sam 10:10-13; 19:20-24. This type of phenomenon was common in the early days of prophecy in Israel as well as in the early days of the Church. It has always been present in the Church although it has been less common in recent centuries.

* 11:25 Moses’ recognition of the prophetic charisma against the objections of Joshua serves to protect the independence of the prophetic office from those who would subject it to institutional control. In contrast to the priestly understanding expressed in other parts of the Pentateuch, the tabernacle is here assumed to be located outside the camp.

Second Reading: James 5:1-6

1 Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. 2 Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, 3 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. 4 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. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.

NOTES on Second Reading:

* 5:1-6 James continues the theme of transitory nature of life and wealth on earth which is the foundation upon which the wealthy have based their lives. The unjust rich who exploit the poor are the targets of this passage.

* 5:4 The cries of the exploited poor are heard by God.

* 5:6 The author probably does not have any specific crime in mind here but is echoing the Old Testament theme of the harsh oppression of the righteous poor. See Prov 1:11, Wis 2:10; 12:20.

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

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” 39 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. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 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. 42 “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. 43 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. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. 47 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, 48 where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

NOTES on Gospel:

* 9:38-40 The Pharisees were obsessed with exclusivity. Jesus discourages a mind set of exclusion. He asks for the broadest possible attitude although He does set some limits later.

* 9:41 Belonging to Christ is important.

* 9:42 The “little ones” are also important. The Kingdom has no disposable people. The people of God is not a society of the perfect only; the leaders are to care for all the people. See 1Cor 8:1-13.

* 9:43 This saying underscores the vast incalculable value of the kingdom. Nothing is to be allowed to pull us astray from our path to the kingdom.

* 9:44 Most important manuscripts omit this verse. It was probably a scribal addition and simply repeats verse 48.

* 9:45 The word used in Greek for “hell” is gehenna or gehenna from the Hebrew ge hinnom or ge hinnom. See 2Kings 23:10.

* 9:46 Most important manuscripts omit this verse. It was probably a scribal addition and simply repeats verse 48.

* 9:48-50 The language used here is inspired by Isa 66:24. Faithless followers are suitable only for hell. </FONT

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