Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

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Bernie Scianna, O.S.A. 
Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia
Chicago. Illinois

Nm 11:25-29
Ps 19:8,10,12-13,14
Jas 5:1-6
Mk 9:38-43,45,47-48

“Would that All the People of the Lord were Prophets!” “Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them All!” “Whoever is not against Us, is for Us!” These are quotes from Moses and Jesus that we hear in our readings today, and they are very powerful! They are also very applicable to our current times in the Church and the World. I am always amazed at how things said and written so many centuries ago have a message for us today! But, I believe that they do!

There seems to be so much conflict and division in our world, our church, our country, our communities, our families, and if we are honest, even within ourselves. How do we address these divisions, and how do we work toward resolution, reconciliation, and unity?

The Spirit, like the wind, blows where it wills. No human, no “side,” if you will, is able to claim that they have the Spirit and the other does not; this is what Moses and Jesus tell us in the Scriptures. Can we acknowledge that others, even those we disagree with, also have the Spirit of God with and in them? This is the first step. Without this acknowledgment, we will never be able to move forward together. We have all been baptized as Priest, Prophet and King: Do we believe this? We have been confirmed and commissioned to preach the Word of God by the way we live. Do we believe this?

But even this fact of baptism and confirmation doesn’t corral the Spirit for us, or give us a corner on the Spirit. Even good people of other faiths can have the Spirit of God in and with them, and do good works! Can we believe this?

There are clearly sad divisions in our Church and in the World. We have seen so many of these in the news recently. Can we work toward resolution, reconciliation and unity? St. Paul tells us that this should not depend on power or material wealth, but on the Spirit within, given to ALL for a reason. All have been given of the same Spirit, but not all have received the same Gifts. Each has been given gifts for some specific reason. This variety of gifts, if used rightly, can move us towards a unity even with this diversity.

I believe there is room in the church for All: conservative, liberal, progressive, traditional, etc. As the song says, “All God’s Children have a Place in the Choir!” We must be willing to work towards unity, not unanimity, with a sense of harmony. St. Augustine doesn’t say that we all must agree on everything and see things the same way, no, he encourages us to live “harmoniously” in your house, being of One Mind and One Heart on the way to God! It means that we must agree that our Goal is the same…GOD…but how we get there is different for each of us…And that’s OK!

Let us focus on that which unites us, and not on our different approaches. Let us strive to let our differences create a harmony instead of discord. Let us put away the “my way or the high way attitude,” and claim our status as Priest, Prophet and King who have been anointed with the Spirit and commissioned to contribute to the building up of the community of God, not tear it apart with petty jealously that creates conflict and division.

The Eucharist is called the Sacrament of Love, the sign of our unity! In Eucharistic Prayer II for Reconciliation we hear, “For though the human race is divided by dissension and discord, yet we know that by testing us you change our hearts to prepare them for reconciliation. Even more, by your Spirit you move human hearts so that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries may join hands, and peoples may seek to meet together in peace. By the working of your power it comes about, O Lord, that hatred is overcome by love, revenge gives way to forgiveness, and discord is changed to mutual respect.” May our reception of the Eucharist today, move us to live in this way!

“Would that All the People of the Lord were Prophets!” “Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them All!” “Whoever is not against Us, is for Us!”