We are called to share in the mission of the Church

Every one of us has been given a mandate, by virtue of our baptism, to share in the mission of the Church, that is, to proclaim the Word of God, to share in Jesus’ healing ministry and to transform the world.

Sep 25, 2021

                         Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Fr George Packiasamy

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Numbers 11:25-29;
James 5:1-6; Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

This Sunday’s Gospel is divided into three parts, I would like to focus on the first part (Mk 9:38-43) which is closely linked to the first reading, (Num 11:25- 29). In the Gospel, we see how the disciples are not pleased when they encounter a man who was not a disciple of Jesus trying to cast out evil spirits, whereas in the Book of Numbers, we see Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp apart from the 70 elders appointed by Moses.

This reminded me of a time when I attended a sick call at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. After I had administered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and given Holy Communion to the patient, I spent some time chatting with him. He told me that there was a lay person from an evangelical church (always wearing a white shirt and carrying a Bible in his hand) who regularly visited patients in the hospital. When this person approached him and asked permission to pray over him, the patient refused when he discovered that the latter was not from the Catholic church. After listening to him, I responded that anyone can pray over us in the name of Jesus as long we ourselves are firm in our faith and believe in the one faith, one baptism, one Lord and one Church (cf. Eph 4:5).

Some time later, I had a chance to meet this same layman while I was visiting the sick in the same hospital. He shared with me about his healing ministry and his desire to visit patients in the hospital, without any personal interest. His intentions were good, and I thought to myself that we should not stop him from doing the work of God, recalling how Jesus told the disciples in the gospel, “You must not stop him... Anyone who is not against me is for us.”

Similarly, in the first reading, Moses was complaining to God about the unbearable burden of administration that was placed upon his shoulders (Num 11:14), and so God instructed Moses to appoint 70 elders as leaders to assist him in governing the Israelites (verses 16–23). All the elders gathered at the Tent of Meeting (the tabernacle) to receive the power of the Spirit of God (verse 16). Two of these elders were Eldad and Medad. They did not go out with the others to the Tent of Meeting but remained in the camp; even so, both of them also received the Spirit of God. Some of the people were confused that Eldad and Medad were prophesying among them and therefore they complained to Joshua. He attempted to stop them from prophesying (verses 26-29). Moses reassured Joshua by saying that each elder had been given the right to prophesy, and that included Eldad and Medad. Hence, the two elders began to prophesy within the camp.

Every one of us has been given a mandate, by virtue of our baptism, to share in the mission of the Church, that is, to proclaim the Word of God, to share in Jesus’ healing ministry and to transform the world. We cannot stop anyone from doing this as long as he or she carries out their duties with the right conduct for the growth of the Kingdom of God.

Today the Church accepts, recognises and calls forth every baptised individual to take part in the mission of the Church. Unfortunately, not many are really involved in the life of the Church. As we reflect on the readings of this Sunday, let us ask ourselves … Are we in with communion and participating in the mission of the Church, or are we against it? Let us not develop envy, hatred, anger, jealousy, or other ill feelings which can cause separation and division in the Church, but instead carry out the mission of the Church responsibly through our leadership in the various ministries the Church has entrusted to us. God has not “given us the spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power, and love and self-control” (2 Tim 1:7) to “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with the Lord” (Mic 6: 8) as we journey together through communion and participation in the mission of the Church. 

--Fr George Packiasamy is the parish priest of the Church of St Joseph in Sentul.

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