Page 38 - Sept2012v1

Basic HTML Version

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Numbers 11:25-29
Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
James 5:1-6
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Overall sense of the boundless inclusivity of God's gifts not wanting to inspire petty jealousies
about preventing others from flourishing. Number is a very funny story about the distribution of
gifts and the inevitable jockeying for special "insider' consideration as to their disposition. Free
means free! The Psalm says the precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart. They are not shackles,
nor are they a burden to the faithful one. James suggests those who unfairly live extravagantly off
the efforts of others will find out what it really means to be left out of the ultimate riches of life.
True "socialism." The Gospel teaches whoever is not against us is for us. Don't worry about
pedigree, what are the merits of the effort? Be careful how you inspire the lives of the innocent;
you assume a grave responsibility that speaks volumes of your real value and status.
This is a salty collection of readings, each loaded with character and intensity. The overall thread
is one of inclusiveness, of caring for the general well-being. We are shown a picture of a world
where our own non-essential concerns take a distant back seat to the essential welfare of the
greater community. This is the origin of the biblical portrait of justice--a world where the other's
needs, desires, and ambitions are recognized as having at least the same value as our own. It's
not a world of scarcity. Indeed, "the precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart." We are so ac-
customed to seeing only the limiting power of laws--what they prevent us from doing. The laws
and customs of man expedite personal hoarding and constant competition to obtain privileges
above others. We're asked to think of Divine Law as something that operates more like the natu-
ral laws of creation; gravity binds the universe in elegant functional balance. Even the spirit of the
Lord is looked upon much as the rain from heaven, which nourishes all without regard for status.
Moses chides Joshua for his parochial "loyalty" if the exercise of that loyalty means keeping oth-
ers from receiving the freely bestowed gifts of the Lord. In fact Moses is delighted and extolls the
virtue of the universal distribution of those gifts, saying, "Would that the LORD might bestow his
spirit on them all!"
The psalm praises God's "precepts" for their eternal and reliable value. Unlike the political laws of
humanity, the "ordinances" of the law are real in the sense that they celebrate the perfect creation
from which they sprung. Human laws change with the fortunes of the groups that hold the keys
to temporal power. The laws of the Lord are subject to no such whimsey. The core values that
the Laws of God promote what we know as the "Divine Virtues" of Faith, Hope, and Charity. All of
God's Laws stand in support of those values. Human laws, even some regulations embodied in
the temporal caveats of the Bible, are often designed to mask the weaknesses of their authors,
while the laws of God demand the pealing away of such masks. Their virtues encourage the re-
placement of self-deceiving pride with the "purity" of humble acknowledgement. We are asked to