All the People of the Lord Are Prophets Now
User’s Guide to Sunday, Sept. 26
Sunday, Sept. 26, is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Mass Readings: Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14; James 5:1-6; Mark 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!” (Numbers 11:29). The words of Moses in the first reading (Numbers 11:25-29) for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Year B anticipate the readings from the New Testament.
Moses has been feeling the burden of being the sole intercessor between God and the 600,000 people of Israel wandering in the desert. The Lord arranges for 70 elders to share in the spirit that the Lord has bestowed upon Moses. Joshua, an aide of Moses, is concerned because two of the elders did not come to the arranged meeting and are prophesying in the camp instead. Moses then proclaims the words above, desiring for all the people of the Lord to be prophets. This desire of Moses is fulfilled with the coming of Jesus, as each of us at our baptisms share in the role of prophet.
We are meant to bear witness to Christ in the world with our words and with our actions.
A parallel story occurs in the Gospel for today (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48), when the apostle John brings up a concern to Jesus: People outside their group are driving out demons in the name of Jesus. Jesus, as God, explains that they cannot perform good works in his name without knowing and loving him. Similarly, we must love Jesus in order for him to bear fruit in our lives.
Jesus explains that we must rid ourselves of things that hinder us from following him fully. His call is not to literally put our eyes out or maim our limbs, but to take seriously the call to holiness. If a certain thing causes us to sin, we need to cast it out of our lives.
We should protect ourselves from areas of life where we have no self-control. For example, if a social-media app or website leads us to sin, then we should delete and block it. If we tend to overeat a certain food, let us remove it from our homes and not subject ourselves to that temptation. If we are not sure how to manage our temptations, we should speak to a spiritual director, wise friend or our spouse and work with them to make a plan. It is better to live our lives without these things then to have them in this life and then end up in “Gehenna.”
In the second reading from James (5:1-6), St. James writes to the rich who are tempted to treasure their material possessions and overlook the poor and others dependent on them. We do not have to look far in our world today to see the disparity between the rich and the poor.
This call to social justice is one we must take seriously. We must help these “little ones” (Mark 9:42) and help them avoid despair by looking out for their needs. We should use our gift of prophecy to speak the truth about the necessity for fair wages for workers and special assistance for those who cannot work.
When we follow all the “precepts of the Lord,” we will have joy in our hearts, as the Psalmist declares in the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14). Let us go to the Lord and ask him to help us detect our failings, cleanse us from our faults, and help us avoid sin in the future. Only he can make us “blameless and innocent of serious sin” (Psalm 19:13).