Numbers 11:25-29; Ps 19:8, 10, 12-14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45 and 47-48
At the Last Supper Jesus told his closest followers that the coming Holy Spirit would instruct them in everything and remind them of all that Jesus told them. So we look to the Holy Spirit for that guidance.
St. Paul said to us in Ephesians 1:3, “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has bestowed on us in Christ, every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” If God has given them every spiritual blessing to us, how do we get them? We do it by asking the Holy Spirit to guide our reading in the early part of the gospel stories about Jesus. We go to church to hear God’s word and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus and the other sacraments and then serve others. “Come and see; go and tell.”
In the first reading today God gave Moses 72 elders to help him manage the large group of Jews as they wandered in the desert for 40 years. God put some of the Spirit that was on Moses on those elders and then spoke God’s word to the people as they guided them.
As a context for Mark’s gospel passage today, Jesus had chosen 12 apostles, 72 male disciples and 36 female disciples. Some of this close group notices a man, not of their inner circles, driving out demons. John wanted to stop him from doing that. Jesus responded, “Anyone who is not against us is with us.”
More power to serve
How do we get more of Jesus’ power to serve? We get it by reading the gospel stories of how Jesus did what he did, by taking advantage of all the sacraments of Christ’s church, our daily prayer life and reading the “New Catechism.” St. John in 8:31-32 said, “If you make your home in my word, you will indeed be my disciples. You will learn my truth and my truth will set you free.” When we appropriate these things we grow in grace (God’s power).
At baptism all Christians receive the Holy Spirit and get 10 personal gifts for our personal growth in holiness throughout our lives. At Confirmation, our own personal Pentecost, we are given many other gifts to go out into the world to tell others about Jesus and his love for them. In a sense we are modern day prophets. We “come and see, get taught and then go our and tell.” We are “Jesus in flesh,” helping others. Matthew 25:40: “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers or sisters, you did it for me.” Some of us teach, heal and serve others in many ways.
Learning these things in a stable family is important, as the World Meeting of Families Conference was telling us about in Philadelphia this past week. In 1993 St. John Paul II started those conferences every three years. The family is the building block and cornerstone of our human life and civilization. Our parents are the first teachers of the faith through deeds and words.
Following Pope Francis
As we have followed Pope Francis in his apostolic visit to Cuba and America, we get a better sense of how important the church that Jesus founded has been and still is today. Our local parishes, all over the world, used to be the social center for Christian growth. The church building was the place where the parish family met to praise and worship God and receive many of the sacraments. Our schools educated our children. We have hospitals, nursing homes, homes for unwed mothers and the elderly and many other outreaches empowering men and women to serve others as the hands of Jesus. We help make the world a better place to live.
About 80% of the first responders in New York City on 9/11 were Irish and Italian Catholic police, fire fighters and rescue personnel who were raised to serve. We are not perfect and make perhaps many mistakes in serving. Yet God gives us joy as we have his heart to service.
Christopher Columbus brought the Catholic faith to this hemisphere in 1492 with the help of Spanish Franciscans. No other country has so spread the Catholic faith as did Spain. They helped the Indians improve their lives and brought them to Jesus. Shortly after came the Ursuline sisters sent to New Orleans, New France, by the king of France to educate the colonists and Indians. Later the various European immigrants came to the New England area. Look at how the Catholic faith has impacted the three cities Pope Francis has visited. Formal Catholic education started with mostly religious women from Europe. It is still important.
If you are serving as a disciple and evangelist of Jesus, thank you for your service. Your reward will be great in heaven. If you are on the fringes or have left, please come home, we are waiting for you. There is always room at our table. Come and receive the joyful blessings has for you. Let us be “torches for Jesus.” As Pope Francis said last week to our Congress, “Let us dialogue and work together with other good men and women to help make our world a better and safer place to live in for all people.”
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)