Sunday Readings 30/08/12

TWENTY SIXTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

The Sunday Scriptures

The disciples are portrayed by Mark as thinking themselves rather superior to others, as though they are the ‘in-crowd’. But Jesus teaches that the disciples need to recognize that others do belong – ‘anyone who is not against us is for us’ and those who do belong to him need to be careful not to cause scandal and thus destroy faith (Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48). The Book of Numbers displays interest in order, division and the priesthood and while including ancient elements was clearly redacted after the Exile. After the census (1:1-4:49) and the re-iteration of various laws at Sinai (5:1-8:26), Moses and the people strike camp and start their journey through the wilderness from Sinai to Kadesh (10:33-19:22). The stories of Numbers are thread together by the gracious leading by the Lord of his people, despite their rebellion and ungratefulness. At one of the first stops, Moses is given help by the Spirit being re-distributed and given to seventy others – an account recalled in the prayer of consecration of priests. The scene of Eldad and Medad, a clear reminder that the spirit is not confined to the few, leads to the wish of Moses for all to be prophets and the Spirit to be given to all (11:25-29). St. James addresses the rich in wording similar to the prophetic oracles of condemnation (James 5:1-6).

Gaudium et Spes Part I: Chapter 4 The Role of the Church in the Modern World (40-44) [44]

Chapter 4 of Part 1 of Gaudium et Spes is entitled ‘The role of the Church in the Modern World’. After a reminder that there is a mutual relationship between the Church and the world, it examines what the Church offers to individuals, society and human activity. It also, very importantly, has a section on what the Church receives from the world. As throughout Gaudium et Spes there is a clear recognition that the Church not only teaches and gives, but is called to learn how to receive and take. It also makes clear that the mission of the Church is not in se in the political, economic or social order, which have their own legitimate autonomy, but all who do contribute to these areas help the Church. ‘Whoever contributes to the development of the community of mankind on the level of family, culture, economic and social life, and national and international politics, according to the plan of God, is also contributing in no small way to the community of the Church insofar as it depends on things outside itself.’ (44)

Summary

The Scriptures point consistently to the truth that God works outside any boundaries and includes those who we might sometimes consider ‘outsiders’. Gaudium et Spes displays very clearly a renewed openness to all and a recognition that the Church exists alongside the world and draws from it all that is good.

Points for reflection

  1. How we demonstrate more clearly that all are part of God’s plan?
  2. What do we do to try to include those we or others might consider ‘outsiders’?
  3. How do we help heal the pain caused by the scandals caused by Christians?

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