26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
September 26, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








O God, who manifest your almighty power
above all by pardoning and showing mercy,
bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us
and make those hastening to attain your promises
heirs to the treasures of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Nm 11:25-29

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses.
Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses,
the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders;
and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad,
were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp.
They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent;
yet the spirit came to rest on them also,
and they prophesied in the camp.
So, when a young man quickly told Moses,
"Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, "
Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses' aide, said,
"Moses, my lord, stop them."
But Moses answered him,
"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!"

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8,10,12-13,14

R/. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.

Though your servant is careful of them,
very diligent in keeping them,
yet who can detect failings?
Cleanse me from my unknown faults!

From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant;
let it not rule over me.
Then shall I be blameless and innocent
of serious sin.

Second Reading Jas 5:1-16

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
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.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

Alleluia Cf. Jn 17:17b,17a

Gospel Mk 9: 38-43,45,47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "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.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Reflection Questions

  1. Have you ever been surprised at on whom the Spirit rests?
  2. How are you challenged as a member of an affluent society?
  3. Have you ever received “a cup of cold water” from someone unexpected?

Catena Nova

O brothers and sisters, do not deceive yourselves; let there be no sin that seems small in your eyes, and that you treat lightly, as though it did no great harm to our souls. Right-minded servants make no distinction between a small sin and a great; if they offend by so much as a glance, a thought, or a word, they feel as if they have fallen away from the love of God, and I believe this is true.... You may be certain, my brothers and sisters, that nothing is so conducive to our salvation as following the divine commandments of the Savior.... For the word of God is like a two-edged sword, cutting off and separating the soul from all bodily desire and sensation. More than that, it is like a blazing fire, because it stirs up zeal in our souls, and makes us disregard all the sorrows of life, consider every trial we encounter a joy, and desire and embrace death, so fearful to others, as life and the means of attaining life (St. Symeon the New Theologian).

Shame, shame, on our human pride, our self-complacency, our self-centeredness, when we see how good God has been to us, how many gifts and graces he has given us — and not because he has to but because he wants to! Obtuse as we are, we seem not to see or feel this love so hot that, if we were made of stone, it would long ago have burst us open! ... I can see no other reason except that the eye of our understanding is not on the tree of the cross. For there is revealed such warm love, such gently persuasive teaching filled with life-giving fruits, such generosity that he has torn open his very body, has shed his life’s blood, and with that blood has baptized and bathed us. We can and should make use of that baptism every day with continual remembrance and great love (St. Catherine of Siena).

There is a difference between possessing poison and being poisoned. Pharmacists keep almost every kind of poison in stock for use on various occasions, yet they are not themselves poisoned because it is merely in their shops, not in their bodies. So, too, you can possess riches without being poisoned by them if you keep them in your home, purse or wallet, but not in your heart (St. Francis de Sales).

Any one who loves God is a living  member of God’s Church. It doesn’t matter where or when that person lives....The Church is not only what it seems to be. It is not only a visible organization with buildings, a history, and a hierarchy. Nor is it simply authenticity, virtues, miracles and the like. We see more of it in the kind of half-light and shadow that contains all the saintliness that is hidden from us. Yes, the angels see it and
recognize that it is an underground foundation and support for what is seen and see that each person has within a kind of sanctuary which is a personal holy of holies. There a hidden incense of love and mercy is offered to God.... There is, so to speak, an immortal substance within each of us of which we aren’t aware any more than we are aware of the hidden ways the Divine Love walks to find and possess us. Wherever the love of God is, there is Jesus Christ. Wherever Jesus is, the Church is there with him.... The Church of God has for this reason a kind of invisible extension that no human eye can take in. Those who see only boundaries which appear, lack all idea of the twofold radiance which is its true nature. The Church that is Jesus Christ and all who labor knowingly or unknowingly in his name calls and raises up all who live the unselfish love of Jesus, wherever in the world they may be found. Do not seek to forbid them this labor. Show them the fullness of Christ so their labor may be yet more effective in advancing the Kingdom of God (Fr. Henri Lacordaire).

I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers (Thomas Merton).

Children are particularly vulnerable to mimetic interference. The child’s confident act of imitation always runs the risk of coming up against the desires of adults, in which case his models will be transformed into fascinating obstacles. As a consequence, to the extent that in his naivete he is exposed to impressions from the adult world, the child is more easily and lastingly scandalized. The adult who scandalizes the child runs the risk of imprisoning him forever within the increasingly narrow circle of the model and the mimetic obstacle, the process of mutual destruction we have so often described. This process is directly opposed to the process of opening up, of welcoming others, which is lifegiving (Rene Girard).

God gathered a people to himself in the Old Testament and in the fullness of time sent his Son to establish the Church as the sacrament of unity for all humanity. God calls each of us to belong to this great family. None of us become Christians on our own; we owe our relationship with God to so many others who passed on the faith, who brought us for Baptism, who taught us to pray and showed us the beauty of the Christian life: our parents and grandparents, our priests, religious and teachers. But we are Christians not only because of others, but together with others. Our relationship with Christ is personal, but not private; it is born of, and enriched by, the communion of the Church. Our shared pilgrimage is not always easy: at times, we encounter human weakness, limitations, and even scandal in the life of the Church. Yet God has called us to know him and to love him precisely by loving our brothers and sisters, by persevering in the fellowship of the Church and by seeking in all things to grow in faith and holiness as members of the one body of Christ (Pope Francis).


Ins and Outs

            Priests of my vintage probably read Avery Dulles’ Models of the Church during their seminary days.  It is a genuine classic and still available from Amazon.  Dulles attempted to present the church through various lenses or approaches each with a varying emphasis.  For those interested, they are institution, mystical communion, sacrament, herald and servant; he added community of disciples in subsequent editions.  While the models are theologically sound, I often felt they presented too rosy or theoretical a view of the church, something more was needed, what you might call “anti-models” which, unfortunately may be more relevant in terms of how the church operates in practice. Among these you might find a corporate model, a military (“chain-of-command”) model, a therapeutic model, a convenience store model and today’s favorite – a country club model which I believe is lurking around today’s readings.

            Like when Joshua complained to Moses when he heard Eldad and Medad were prophesying -- because they weren’t part of the “in-group” that went with Moses to the meeting tent where the Lord bestowed the spirit on seventy elders. Eldad and Medad stayed home with everyone else.  And Joshua -- who had an “in” with Moses from his youth -- just couldn’t figure out how these people could receive the spirit without such an “in.”  So all he could say was, “Moses, my Lord, stop them” (I).  And Moses, who knew the reason for Joshua’s narrow mind, replied, “Are you jealous for my sake?” Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!  Would that the LORD might bestow [the] spirit on them all! (I) So little did Moses think of his own “in” with God.

            Then there’s the fractious community of the apostle James.  Over the past few weeks we’ve heard a lot about the “ins and outs” of his church.  He mentioned, among other unsavory features of these early Christians,  jealousy and selfish ambition, disorder and every foul practice, wars, and conflicts.  But he was especially concerned about the rich – always the consummate “in-group” -- who were making distinctions among themselves when it came to the less fortunate in their community, even becoming judges with evil designs in showing partiality while apparently engaging in unjust practices toward the poor like withholding wages from workers while living in luxury and pleasure (cf. II).

            Perhaps he was thinking of the time John – possibly his own brother – wanted to stop people from doing good in Jesus’ name because they weren’t part of that very exclusive club of the Twelve Apostles.  Only to have Jesus respond, Do not prevent [them]. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me (cf. G).

            Which brings me to the church today.  I mentioned a few weeks ago how Pope Francis has asked the Catholic Church to engage in a two-year process of broad consultation in every diocese and parish throughout the world leading up to the next Synod of Bishops in 2023 whose topic will be “synodality” – a model of the church whereby all of us, “walking together,” are engaged in the church’s life and mission as co-responsible participants with no one excluded, a church, moreover, that is known for its openness to new initiatives prompted by the Holy Spirit.

            In his recent trips to Hungary and Slovakia, Francis had this expansive view of the church very much in mind.  Meeting with a cross-section of Catholics in Slovakia, he said

            The Church is not a fortress, a stronghold, a lofty castle, self-sufficient and looking out upon the world below .... How great is the beauty of a humble Church, a Church that does not stand aloof from the world, viewing life with a detached gaze, but lives her life within the world. Living within the world means being willing to share and to understand people’s problems, hopes and expectations. This will help us to escape from our self-absorption.... We have to leave behind undue concern for ourselves, for our structures, for what society thinks about us.

            Better to have everything readily defined, laws to be obeyed, security and uniformity, rather than to be responsible Christians and adults who think, consult their conscience and allow themselves to be challenged. This is the beginning of casuistry, trying to regulate everything. In the spiritual life and in the life of the Church, we can be tempted to seek an ersatz peace that consoles us, rather than the fire of the Gospel that unsettles and transforms us....

            Yet a Church that has no room for the adventure of freedom, even in the spiritual life, risks becoming rigid and self-enclosed....We are heirs to a rich Christian tradition, yet for many people today, that tradition is a relic from the past; it no longer speaks to them or affects the way they live their lives. Faced with the loss of the sense of God and of the joy of faith, it is useless to complain, to hide behind a defensive Catholicism, to judge and blame the evil world.

            No! What we need is the creativity of the Gospel.... What a fine thing it is when we find new ways, means and languages to proclaim the Gospel! We can use our human creativity; everyone of us has this ability. ... A Church that trains people in interior freedom and responsibility, one able to be creative by plunging into their history and culture, is also a Church capable of engaging in dialogue with the world, with those who confess Christ without being “ours”, with those who are struggling with religion, and even with those who are not believers. It is not a cluster of special people. It dialogues with everyone: believers, those living lives of holiness, those who are lukewarm and those who do not believe. It speaks to everyone (September 13).

            This past week, as the bishop of Rome, Francis met with representatives of his own local church as the diocese looks to the first phase of the synodal process. Sounding once again his hope for a church that listens broadly to the Spirit at work in the whole body of the faithful, he said, “It is necessary to feel part of one great people who are the recipients of the divine promises, open to a future that awaits everyone to participate in the banquet prepared by God for all peoples....Everyone is a protagonist, no one can be considered a mere extra....To be church is to enter into this breadth of God....The Holy Spirit in his freedom does not know boundaries, and he does not let himself be limited by belonging.”

            Of course, Francis is also a realist, noting how, “There is much resistance to overcome the image of a church rigidly divided between leaders and subordinates, between those who teach and those who have to learn, forgetting that God likes to overturn positions. Walking together discovers horizontality rather than verticality as its line” (September 18).

            This is why there is a notable amount of indifference, if not cynicism, toward Francis’ ambitious project.  Writing in the September 16 issue of Commonweal, Austen Ivereigh asks, “Yet who knows it is even happening? A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar.... so far the disengagement has been almost total” (“The Spirit in the Assembly” @ https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/spirit-assembly; cf. Phyllis Zagano, “Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it?” @ https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/just-catholic/pope-francis-wants-every-catholic-have-say-why-havent-us-catholics-heard ).  I am happy, however, to note that (despite my earlier misgivings which were premature) the bishop of Rochester has informed church leaders about the synodal process and has appointed representatives who will foster its implementation at various stages.

            In the end, whatever the outcome of Francis’ synodal model of the church proves to be, a model which is the antithesis of the ones I mentioned earlier – especially the “country club” model – he has posed a challenge to every Christian community whereby

If the parish is the house of all in the neighborhood, not an exclusive club, I recommend that you leave the doors and windows open, do not limit yourselves to those who frequent [the parish] or think like you....Let everyone enter.... Allow yourselves to go out to meet people and to be questioned by people. Let their questions be your questions; allow yourselves to walk together. The Spirit will lead you. Do not be afraid to enter into dialogue; it is the dialogue of salvation.

But, as usual, the divisions in the Catholic world, at least in the United States, have taken sides, for and against, the pope’s plan.  In the Commonweal article mentioned earlier someone interviewed on EWTN – presumably with approval – said, “the Holy Spirit won’t be present [at the Synod] because the Holy Spirit has better things to do.” While at the National Catholic Reporter an editorial on Thursday, entitled, “Let’s give the Holy Spirit a chance at [the] synod on synodality” (https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/editorial-lets-give-holy-spirit-chance-synod-synodality) ends by quoting Francis at his recent meeting with Roman diocesans: "The Holy Spirit needs you.”  Ah yes, the Spirit who blows where it will, and came to rest (I) upon Eldad and Medad and worked through someone who drove out demons in [Jesus’] name (G).  But Joshua and John couldn’t understand how — because they were neither elder nor apostle.



Intercessions (Peter Scagnelli)

To God for whose kingdom we long, let us pray in the name of Christ.

That the church may rejoice at every sign of the Spirit’s presence and recognize as fellow disciples all who call on the name of Jesus.

That by sharing decision-making with all God’s people, our leaders may lighten their own burdens and deepen our commitment.

That stumbling blocks placed in the path toward peace may give way before mutual trust and reconciliation.

That Christians may love and care especially for the little ones of the world, who bear most clearly the image of the suffering Christ.

That laborers who tend the fields and harvesters who provide for our tables may receive the just wages and decent living conditions to which they have a right.

That this community may not store up riches for our own profit or pleasure but generously share with others our material and spiritual treasure.

That Christian landlords and business owners may guard against greed by opening their hearts to the needy and working on behalf of justice.

That we who are nourished by the body and blood of Christ may be wholly dedicated to him in body, mind and spirit.

That we who partake at this table of a foretaste of heaven’s banquet may never choose instead the hell of those who live only for themselves.

That those who followed Christ in this life and served Christ in others may come to the reward of life with Christ forever.

O God, protector of the poor and defender of the just, in your kingdom the last become first, the gentle are strong, and the lowly exalted. Give us wisdom from above, that we may find in your servant Jesus the pattern of true discipleship and the grace to persevere in following him, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen (ICEL; 1998).

Interlude (Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr.)


Many colors paint the rainbow, arching over land and sea
May colors form the fabric of our human tapestry
God, with joy and hope you made us, by a pattern you had planned
Weaving varied threads together, with a skilled and loving hand.

Many peoples bring their treasures, as those kings who traveled far
Drawn from all earth scattered places, back to Christ the morning star
All may offer gifts to others, and from them receive in turn
In the gathering of nations, help us God to teach and learn.
Many faces round the table wait for Christ, the Risen Lord.

For he comes with love to meet us, in the Loaf, the Cup, the Word
All are welcomed, none rejected, bound by Christ in unity
Naming others sisters, brothers, in a world wide family.

Many voices sing God’s praises in their language all their own
Tongues confused at Babel’s Tower now are joined around God’s throne
Free our hearts of hate and discord, till our lives in concert blend
Alleluia! Be our anthem without end.

Lord’s Prayer

We pray with confidence for God’s kingdom of justice and peace to come among us as Jesus taught....

Spiritual Communion

Lord Jesus Christ, we come before you in poverty of spirit. Our inability to be present today at your Table reminds us of all who go without their daily bread.  Nourish us nevertheless with your Presence showered upon your holy people by the gift of your Spirit. Thus strengthened, may we commit ourselves anew to service on behalf of your Reign of justice and peace.



Closing Song  (Graham Kendrick)


Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in your suffering
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!

Shelter for fragile lives
Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed
Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can't speak

Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Refuge from cruel wars
Havens from fear
Cities for sanctuary
Freedoms to share
Peace to the killing-fields
Scorched earth to green
Christ for the bitterness
His cross for the pain

Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Rest for the ravaged earth
Oceans and streams
Plundered and poisoned
Our future, our dreams
Lord, end our madness
Carelessness, greed
Make us content with
The things that we need

Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Lighten our darkness
Breathe on this flame
Until your justice
Burns brightly again
Until the nations
Learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
And bring you their praise

Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame