Homily Twenty-sixth Sunday Year B God is in control

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Homily Twenty-sixth Sunday Year B
Reading 1:
It is the Lord who is the initiator and the source of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one of which is prophesy. God’s Spirit was upon Moses and signs and wonders followed. These signs and wonders did not point to Moses but to God. The background of this reading is that Moses was feeling the burden of trying to be the spokesperson of God to all the people. People were demanding more and more from Moses.

So when Moses complained to God, God said for him to choose seventy-two elders who would receive the same empowering spirit. The Spirit came down upon them and they, like Moses, prophesied, speaking the word of God to the people.

The fact that two of those selected were not in the physical company of the others did not prevent God from fulfilling his plan. The issue here is not God’s plan, but human beings wanting to be in control of God’s plan, to determine and direct it according to their expectations. But God shows that he is not limited by human expectations.

Moses was able to see that it was God who inspired the two to prophesy. Joshua, at the time, could not see this. But Moses said something very prophetic and correct. “Would that the Lord might bestow his Spirit on all and that all would prophesy.” This theme appears in other parts of the Old Testament. Joel prophesied that in the end time God would pour out his Spirit upon all mankind.

Pentecost is the beginning of that fulfillment. Baptism and Confirmation are the moments in each of our lives that we have received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In Baptism, when we were anointed with the oil of Chrism, we were told: “you now share in the life of Christ, as priest, prophet and king.” In Confirmation, we were told that we are to witness about Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Reading 2:
The sin in the first reading was jealousy. What is the sin that James is signaling in this reading? It is injustice and wrongdoing towards others. Like any other sin, it is the betterment of self at the detriment of others. To be rich is not the sin. To have means is not the sin. How did we obtain it? How do we use it? That’s the issue. To obtain it unjustly or in a manner that deprived another what is due is the sin. To hoard it for self, when others are in dire need is sinful.

The Gospel reading contains two different thoughts. The first part is connected to the first reading, judging from human standards and not from God’s. John is asking out of jealousy and a need to control like Joshua. Jesus identifies the truth. God is not limited to any exclusive club but chooses to work in and through people we would not imagine.
What is the focus? Signs and wonders done in the name of Jesus that bear fruit are of God.

Jesus then moves into the focus of his own preaching and ministry, calling people to repentance of sin. First of all, we are called to recognize the seriousness of sin and the consequences of sin. He indicates the radical attitude we must take towards sin. It is not that Jesus wants us to take literally to the point of cutting off our hands or tearing out our eyes, if these were sources of our sin. Rather, he wants us to recognize the eternal consequences of sin, which alienates us from God now and eternally, if we die unrepentant.

Many times, we do not think of the eternal consequences and remain in sin. Jesus is not advocating decapitation of our limbs but the separation from sin through sincere repentance. As much as we revolt against the thought of severing a limb because of sin, we should be more horrified at the reality of an eternity without God because of unrepentant sin.

There is a sense of immediacy. Act now! How often do we delay and remain alienated from God because of serious sin, thinking that it is no big deal or there is no rush to repent and change one’s life style. One’s eternal salvation is never to be taken lightly. It is a gift from God, not something we deserve. To be indifferent to this gift is to say to God he is not that important in our life; to say that the death of Jesus is not that important to you.

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