Your honors, money, all possessions will rot after your death

By Msgr. William Carr

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 2:17-20; James 3:16 - 4:3; and Mark 9:30-37
The Scripture readings today tell of people who are afflicted with ambition, jealousy, arrogance, and contentiousness. Evil persons cannot put up with good persons: They will ridicule their goodness; they will try to tear down; they will try to get the good person to be just as they are!
Misery loves company. Guilty consciences want everyone else to be guilty. In our modern world, perhaps we should consider it a joy when we are taunted, ridiculed, and made the victim of vicious slander. If the Church is persecuted, it must be doing something right.
The Gospel tells of the ambition of some disciples. They wanted to be above the others. (They thought, of course, that Jesus was going to be an earthly king, and they would sit next to him at court and taste his cup of wine and his food.) Jesus teaches that humility (not pride) is the virtue.

Those who want to be first must take the last place. If we glory in ourselves, our glory is nothing; we must do all for the glory of the Lord. Our ambition should be to outdo others in serving the needs of all.
In the second reading, James tells us that strife and jealousy come from our own inner con?icts: We feel insecure, so we think we must over-compensate by putting others down. When we gossip or find fault, we are admitting that we are insecure. Yet true security and positive self-image comes from realizing that God loves us. He sent his Son to save us; his Son died for our sakes; let us accept his mercy.
If we give of ourselves, we shall find peace of soul and peace with others. Remember the words of Jesus: “The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest.”

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; and Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the “Torah” or “Pentateuch” or “Law of Moses.” It is called “Numbers” because of the census of the Israelites in the desert.
The book continues the story of the forty years’ wandering of the Israelites in the desert before entering the Promised Land. In today’s context, Moses is worn out because he tries to do everything by himself. The Lord tells him to appoint seventy “elders” who will help him to judge cases and lead the people.
These elders gather, and, through Moses, God sends his spirit upon them. Two elders were not in the gathering; the others try to stop them from acting as elders. Moses says that he wishes that all were prophets. (In this context “prophet” is one who decides cases and renders decisions.)
A similar case is found in the gospel. Someone who is not a member of the group of disciples is using Jesus’ name to “cast out demons.” (This means to heal diseases.) The disciples try to stop him. But Jesus says that whoever is not against him is for him. Jesus goes on to speak of “scandal.”
Unfortunately, our translation uses different expressions for the same Greek word skandalon: “Lead astray”, “difficulty”, “undoing”, and “downfall” all translate the same word skandalon.
It means “to cause a person to lose faith. In context, it is better to lose an eye, a leg, a hand, or even life itself rather than to lose one’s faith.
The second reading continues the “tough” language of James: You can’t take it with you! All your honors, awards, trophies, wealth, trinkets, and possessions will rot. The only thing that will go with you into eternity will be your life of virtue and grace.