(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Mass-Blog-for-the-26th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-time-2021.mp3)
Once you reach the autumn of life, a certain medical procedure is recommended to stave off a certain kind of cancer. The procedure’s name ends in “scopy,” because it sends a scope in where the sun rarely shines. Nobody looks forward to this procedure with joyful anticipation, but we do anticipate a happy result. That’s much like the scoping many of us expect our Maker to give us at the end of our life to assess our soul’s freedom from a variety of moral cancers.
Both scoping procedures require “prep.” In its physical manifestation that prep entails our downing a couple liters of a chalky beverage designed to enhance scoping visibility. Like the revenge that is one of humanity’s deadly sins, this is a beverage best enjoyed cold. Nobody likes lukewarm prep. In our soul’s scoping procedure, the prep is what we serve-up for God’s consumption. The Book of Revelation (REV 3:15-16) tells us He hates lukewarm prep as much as we do.
“I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
This was a circuitous route to the point of this Sunday’s readings. Both Old and New Testament accounts demonstrate our Holy Spirit’s passion for and love of truth. Spreading that truth is the job of prophets, and passionate prophecy is everybody’s job. It helps ensure everyone’s spiritual well-being.
In the first reading from Numbers (Nm 11:25-29), Moses is warned that a couple people HIS people didn’t recognize as spiritually authorized were passionately spreading God’s word. Moses retorts,
“Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!”
Fast-forward a few centuries to the time of Christ and Sunday’s passage from Mark’s gospel (Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48). It’s almost a reenactment. John the disciple gives Jesus a heads-up that strangers are driving out demons in his name.
“We tried to prevent him because he does not follow us,” John tells him. Jesus replies, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.”
Giving someone a figurative cup of cold water on a hot day or a hot beverage on a cold day is excellent prep for our end-of-life reward screening process. And as James tells us in Sunday’s second reading (Jas 5:1-6), God hears the cries of those who went through their life without the benefit of our aid.
You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
We were called to share our soul’s treasure in life. That’s our prep for the next one. If our soul is well- and completely-spent by the time we face our Maker, that prep is bound to please God’s palate. God’s reaction is previewed in Jesus’ Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”