Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The first reading and the gospel today focus on a problem that is mentioned a lot in the Bible. This is the problem of the church becoming its own worst enemy, of the church undermining itself. We all know that one of the effective means of undermining your opponent in any field (political, economic, and sporting) is divide and conquer. The enemy of the church uses this means as well, sowing division, dissention, jealousy, and rivalry among the members of the church. We spend a lot of our time fighting each other instead of preaching the mission. One of the great examples of this is the rivalry between Saul and David. Saul was jealous of David and David had to even hide from Saul and all this time the work of the Lord was hampered. In the first reading of our Mass today from the book of Numbers we find the spirit of Moses was put on 70 elders, and this was to help Moses with his mission. Two of these elders, Eldad and Medad, who were part of this group, but were not present when all the elders met together. These two begin to prophecy in the camp and the others came to Moses asking him to stop them, because they are not one of us, not part of the official group. They were envious of them, and it was dividing the community. They were hoping that Moses would side with them, but we have the wise intervention of Moses: “Are you jealous, if only the whole people of the Lord were prophets”. Moses knew that they had the spirit just as the rest of them had and he did not allow this petty jealousy and rivalry to undermine the mission. In the gospel we find a similar story. John complained to Jesus: “We saw a man…” This person is not part of our group”. The wise intervention of Jesus “You must not stop; anyone who is not against is for us” Jesus did not allow jealousy and petty rivalry to undermine the mission. This problem still exists in our church today, among the Bishops, clergy and laity, it still exists in parishes and communities today, and it exists in society today. Many times you will hear people commenting in our community, who does he/she think she is! see it at times among the clergy, you see it at times with people who are involved in the Parish and community; “who did she/he is! Sometimes we get tied up in these little games of petty rivalry and we forget what the mission is about. We must never lose sight of the mission of the church: bringing Christ to the world. Let us not allow this jealousy and petty rivalry to undermine our mission. The mission of bringing Gods love to the world should be our priority, being a conduit of God’s grace is what matters.