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Homily for twenty sixth Sunday B

28 Sep 2018, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Christianity in our generation has been turned into something else; it is not an exaggeration to say that anti-Christian/Catholic tendencies have eaten deep into the Church, particularly the Nigerian Church. Our readings this morning addresses some of these anomalies; all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness.

In our first reading, we see how God took some of the spirits in Moses and put it on seventy elders. Moses, the great Israelite leader, led his people out of Egypt’s land through the desert to the Promised Land. At a point in their journey, the people complained against Moses, and Moses cried to God saying; I am not able to carry all this people alone, the burden is too heavy for me Num. 11:14. In response, God ordered Moses to choose seventy elders to wait for his presence at the tent meeting. There, God took some of Moses’ spirits and put it on the elders; they prophesied. Two of the chosen elders, Eldad and Medad were absent for reasons not mentioned, but the spirit located them in the camp and made them prophesied even though they were not at the Tent of meeting. This divine favour and God’s gift made Joshua jealous, he ran to Moses and said to him, Eldad and Medad are in the camp prophesying; stop them. But Moses refused and wished all the people were made prophets.

We see the same spirit of jealousy among the apostles in our gospel reading this morning. Mark had reported earlier that the apostles were unable to perform an exorcism when a man brought his son to them for healing, for the man had said to Jesus, Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid, and I asked your disciple to cast it out, and they were not able (Mk. 9:17-18). The apostles were unable to cast a demon out, but in our gospel passage this morning, they saw a man doing what they were unable to do and so became jealous and tried to stop him. But like Moses in our first reading, Jesus let the apostles understand that anyone who is not against him is for him. In other words, the man must not be stopped.

Today in the Church, we allow the beautiful gifts of God to tear us apart; we let the gifts that are meant to be collectively used and unite the Church to divide the Church for selfish reasons. We now display the very gifts we received without pay for sale.

There are now so many unapproved and private ministries in the Catholic Church, especially in Nigeria. Many who felt they have special gifts become arrogant, rebellious, and pulls out of the Church. There is no doubt that the work of evangelism is for every Christian; we are all called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. We all have been gifted differently, and these gifts are meant for the good of the Church. The gifts of God are not given to separate you but to unite you to the Church. Being gifted is not a call to be rebellious; it is not a call to establish your Church, but a call to be humble and submit to the Church.

In the Catholic Church, we witness the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in an organized way. We are all witnesses to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but not scattered witnesses. Jesus said that his apostles would be his witnesses, first of all in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then to the earth’s ends (Acts 1:8). There was a sense of orderliness in their ministry; the word “go” did not mean anywhere for the apostles. They were to begin in Jerusalem; there were strategy and organization in their ministry. The Catholic Church still operates as such; every gift in the Church must be harmonized for the good of the Church and God’s glory. The gifts are not for selfish purposes, for the seventy elders were chosen and gifted to assist Moses and not rebel against him.

We must resist the spirit of rebelliousness in whatever form it shows itself in the Church,  in our homes and families. if we let the spirit of rebelliousness, selfishness, and jealousy take hold of us, we may be destroyed by the very gifts meant to bless us. Let’s be humble and submissive to God and the Church.