By Mgr Anthony Abela
Twenty-sixth Sunday of the Year Keep faith in Jesus ark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48: 38 John said to him: “Teacher, we saw a man who was driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn’t belong to our group.” 39 “Do not try to stop him,” Jesus told them, “because no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able soon afterwards to say evil things about me.
40 For whoever is not against us is for us.
41 I assure you that anyone who gives you a drink of water because you belong to me will certainly receive his reward.
42 If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied round his neck and be thrown into the sea.
43 So if your hand makes you lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand than to keep both hands and go off to hell, to the fire that never goes out. 45 And if your foot makes you lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot than to keep both feet and be thrown into hell.
47 And if your eye makes you lose your faith, take it out! It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into hell.
48 There ‘the worms that eat them never die, and the fi re that burns them is never put out.” Other Readings: Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19:7, 9, 11-13; James 5:1-6 Jesus surprises his disciples yet again. Apparently someone was casting out demons in Jesus’s name. The disciples tell him to stop because he is not one of their group.
Jesus surprises them by telling them not to stop him. The reason Jesus gives is very practical. Someone performing miracles in his name could hardly turn round later and speak against Jesus’s ministry. We’re not really given many details so do not know why this person was not more closely connected with Jesus’s disciples.
However, Jesus makes it clear that kindness shown to one of his disciples because they are following him will certainly be rewarded.
Jesus then turns his attention to the seriousness of sin. He gives a strong warning to those who cause the young to lose their faith in Jesus (verse 42).
Jesus sums his teachings up by saying: don’t allow anyone or anything to cause you to lose faith in him. He emphasises the importance of this by repeating it no fewer than three times. It’s a matter of life or death, heaven or hell. We must keep our lives clearly focused on Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
What reasons do you think the disciples might have had for stopping the man casting out demons in Jesus’s name?
What does this passage teach us about how we should deal with temptation and sin? Do we take it as seriously as God does?
What can we learn about our responsibility to others, especially to children concerning their faith in Jesus?
As we read and reflect on Holy Scripture it changes us. The Holy Spirit helps in this transition. These verses from Psalm 19 help us to focus on obeying God and keeping free from sin. As you ponder this psalm allow time for the Holy Spirit to open up areas that need to change. If we confess our sins God promises “he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing” (1 John 1:9).
In Numbers 11:25-29 we learn that Joshua reacted in a similar way to the disciples when someone did something he didn’t consider was right. Moses, like Jesus, took the opposite view. We know from previous readings that God is more concerned with our heart attitude.
James 5:1-6 is a warning to people who put their trust in their earthly wealth and who exploit other people. God will judge them. Selfish and loveless actions by Christians may well cause others to lose faith in Jesus and the church. Our personal behaviour must reflect Jesus; thoughtless words and actions can have a significant impact on others.
These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are written by Mgr Anthony Abela and published by Bible Society © 2008 United Bible Societies. Bible text Good News Translation, second edition © 1992 American Bible Society, New York. Used with permission