Homily for the twenty-sixth Sunday of the Year - Year B - Mk. 9:38...48


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" John said to Jesus, «Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.» But Jesus said, «Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.»


" «For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means 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 hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.»


" «And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.» "




Homily:


" John said to Jesus, «Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.» But Jesus said, «Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.» "


God's choices are often surprising to us, and we might even be tempted to say: incomprehensible! For in today's gospel we hear about someone who, no doubt having heard of the power of Jesus' name, uses this strength and power to cast out demons, but without belonging to the group of disciples that the Lord had called to himself. It was not Jesus himself who had inspired this new healer, but rather the Holy Spirit. Interiorly, the Spirit who rests upon Christ had invited this man to proclaim the name that saves and that heals. "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:3)


" «For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.» "


This word of the Lord is precious for our everyday life: "He that is not against us is for us." When someone does not manifest hostility toward Christ's faithful, how could we judge his intention toward us? God alone knows the depths of our heart, and all of the thoughts of men! Who could say that the Lord had not given such and such a person the gift of his grace in order that this same person might love him in his heart? God is free, at all times and in all things!


Certainly, this is beyond us: we do not understand how it could be possible for such a person to serve God as we do, yet without belonging to our ecclesial community. We are quickly tempted, like the disciples, to forbid him to cast out demons and propagate the kingdom of God. If someone does not exteriorly belong to our group, then he cannot be a faithful servant of God. And yet this person will manifest a real gesture of communion. But this gesture will not be one that openly testifies to his religious membership in the Church of Christ; it will be but a simple human gesture: "Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means 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 hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.» "


Now the situation is completely different! If Jesus is tender and compassionate toward everyone who is not against his disciples, he is nonetheless stern and threatening to everyone who dares to attack even the smallest of his servants! And it is in this perspective that we must read the rest of the Master's discourse.


" «And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.» "


We too, unfortunately, could become enemies of the disciples of Christ! For example, if we are jealous of someone who has received graces or gifts that we do not have, we then become enemies of the disciples of the Lord. If we desire the spiritual goods of others, instead of praising God for them, then we are similar to those whose hand or foot or eye is an occasion of sin. So we must implore the Lord to deliver us from this disordered attachment, from this desire that has not been placed in our heart by God himself. And in order that we might firmly detach ourselves from this fatal desire, Jesus personally threatens us with the fire of hell, an eternal fire, a fire that never dies out, for God's judgment is final.


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us with her almighty prayer! May She show us the right path to follow! May She guide us on the way of salvation, following Christ! May today's Eucharist be for us the effective remedy that allows us to always be turned toward the Lord, faithful in his service and respectful of the gifts he deigns to grant to whomever he wishes!



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