1) Our first reading today mentions Eldad and Medad, two followers of Moses. They weren’t in the right place at the right time, but they still received the spirit and could prophesy. In the gospel, despite the apostles’ complaints, Jesus assures them that even an outsider can receive the Spirit and could do a miracle. “Anyone who is not against us is with us.”
The spirit was not just given to Moses. The Holy Spirit is not just given to clergy. Pope Francis said that the changing nature of evangelization requires, quote, "a much more active engagement on the part of the laity."
The challenge for the church today, he said, is to discern and employ wisely, "the manifold gifts that the Spirit pours out upon the church."
“…the manifold gifts that the Spirit pours out upon the church." Look around this parish. Do you see courage, faith, wisdom, and love? I do. And compassion and hospitality, too. The Spirit of God is present here.
2) Our second reading today focuses on wealth, and how the rich often exploit the poor
For people who are not rich it is easy to dismiss this reading. However, I think the following quote widens our horizon. Benjamin Disraeli said: “The greatest good you can do for others is not just share your riches with them, but to reveal to them their own.”
Poverty deals with more than the lack of money and food.
Some people are poor in the awareness of their talentsand need someone to open their eyes – like teachers.
Some children are poor inconfidence,and need someone to believe in them – like parents.
Some people are blind to their inner goodness and beautyand need someone to appreciate in them
Some people are lonely and poor in relationships and need someone to listen and understand them.
“The greatest good you can do for others is not just share your riches with them, but to reveal to them their own.” -- And one special place where this takes place is the family.
Even if we haven’t a penny in our pocket, we can still be a rich family, -- rich in faith, rich in love, rich in the things that money can’t buy.
3) Finally, today’s gospel sounds like a lecture in radical surgery. “If you hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” Jesus was exaggerating a bit to make a point. But what was the point?
We can learn a lesson from Olympic athletes. If athletes want to win the gold, they have to be focused. They can’t let anything distract them. They have to be disciplined,
eat right, sleep right, practice, stay in shape,
study techniques, and sacrifice other interests,
-- in other words, lop off anything that gets in the way of going for the gold.
The Lord is telling us today to get focused.
“Don’t let anything lead you into sin.”
“Don’t let anything keep you from loyalty to me.”
“Don’t let anything deter you from the gold of my friendship.”
Is there anger in your heart? Cut it out.
Are you trapped in fear? Dismiss it.
Is gossip your problem? Eliminate it.
Has greed got control of you? Erase it.
Does laziness have the best of you? Eradicate it.
Are you telling lies? Get rid of them.
Does prejudice get in your way? Lop it of.
Are you suffering from self-doubt? Purge it.
Is there selfishness in your life? Throw it out.
Is unforgiveness in your heart? Delete it.
Yes, Jesus is calling for radical spiritual surgery of anything that might get in the way of friendship with him.
That’s a message from our gospel today.
At the end of Mass I will say, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” How do we do that?
By word and deed, we can tell everyone we meet
that they are loveable,
that they are loved by God,
loved by the Christian community,
and loved by you and me…
Man, that’s good news. Our world needs to hear that news. Come on, let’s do it!