Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 30, 2018

José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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When there are too many problems, when I have the feeling that the boat is taking on water and Jesus seems to be sleeping, what I do is take a walk, pray the Rosary and go before the tabernacle, asking him what to do. At such moments, I try to convince myself that the Holy Spirit is the one who guides the parish and his action is much greater than what I have in mind.

In today’s readings, we heard that Moses and Jesus both attested to the fact that the work of the Spirit cannot be confined to a particular institution and no one can claim a monopoly on the Spirit.

In the first reading, Joshua asks Moses to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying because they did not belong to the group of the seventy elders whom the Lord had chosen to receive the spirit that was on Moses. Moses responded by telling Joshua not to be jealous: “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!” (Nm 11:29).

In the Gospel, John tells Jesus that he and other apostles had tried to prevent a man from casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus tells John that they had erred because there is no monopoly for acting in his name.

Joshua and John forgot that God’s works are much greater than we think. God is not confined to an organization, a limited group. The Church is visible but her boundaries are not. The institution has limits but the Spirit acts without frontiers.

Joshua and John thought that they were the owners of the truth. However, we are not possessors of the truth. The truth possesses us!

We risk perceiving the Church as a human association, as a group closed to the newness of God. We need to see what God is making happen among us now. When we are not open to what Our Lord is doing at a given moment, we destroy his work.

God is constantly asking us to change. Resistance to change is a sign that we are closed within ourselves. Defending the status quo and rejecting progress demonstrate a lack of trust in God’s action.  Nothing is impossible for God. He can raise up the children of Abraham from stones!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to cut off everything that prevents us from achieving our destiny, which is to enter the kingdom of God. We need to cut off to everything that kills God’s action. We need to cut off everything that prevents us from acting according to what Our Lord is making happen right now. We need to cut off everything that impedes us from following the truth.

Let us ask for an openness of spirit, that we may be able to recognize God’s action in and beyond ourselves.  Amen.

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