September 26, 2021 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092621.cfm)
Once there was a madre who bought a box of munchkins from Dunkin Doughnut for pasalubong. While waiting for her flight at the pre-departure area, a family sat beside her. Giving in to her cravings, she took a munchkin from the box, and enjoyed eating one munchkin. Suddenly, the little boy also took and ate one from the same box. She did not mind at first, thinking that the boy must also be hungry. But then, the Ate (elder sister) also took and ate one. This had upset the madre but she just ignored it, and took one for herself instead. But so did the nanay and tatay. This really irritated her that she glared at the family who was consuming the rest of the munchkins. But what really infuriated her was when the nanay took the last munchkin and offered it to her. Now indignant and so enraged, the sister stood up and changed her seat. But later on, when she opened her bag to get her ticket, she saw, much to her embarrassment and shame that inside her bag was her box of munchkins unopened. “Opps, dili diay to iya.”
Sometimes it is good to examine and ask ourselves: “What are the things that we claim as being rightly ours and yet are not truly ours?” This may not only be material possessions but could also be our status in society we use to lord over others,.. titles we use for personal advantages,… our prejudices and biases we harbored towards others,… or our self-righteous behaviors what makes us feel morally better, privilege or important than others. Sometimes, we are not different from that madre. We sometimes claim these privileges – which do not really belong to us, though we come to think and believe that they are only ours to have. Worse, we sometimes claim that we are the rightful owners of the munchkins and it is exclusively for us to have and eat.
Here in our first reading, we heard Joshua complaining to Moses for letting two elders who were absent during the meeting, receive the spirit of prophecy. Joshua was thinking that only those elders who attended the meeting are the rightful recipients of the spirit of prophecy.
A similar story here is depicted in our gospel today. John reported to Jesus: “Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting our devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.” Meaning, John and other disciples tried to exclude a non-member from exercising the ministry of healing and exorcism in the name of Jesus. Just like Joshua, the apostles believed that they are exclusively the privilege persons to invoke the name of the Lord.
But as we all know; Jesus did not stop the estranged but effective exorcist. Like Moses, Jesus was not concerned about how the exorcist got the spirit of exorcism but was simply glad he had it. Clearly, Jesus perceived the situation differently. He said, “If anyone who is not against us is with us”. In other words, the Kingdom of God is beyond and wider than our human standards.
Salvation is non-exclusive. It is God’s gift for all. Consequently, God’s blessings for us are Shareware – meant to be shared, and not to be kept selfishly & owned exclusively. He challenged us instead to be open-minded to others, to “Let God’s spirit blows where it will” since God rewards those who show even the smallest courtesies to those who teach and share in Jesus’ name.
On the contrary, he warned the disciples then & us now against our tendency to be selective, downgrading, arrogant, jealous, and intolerant of one another – as if we have the monopoly of the gift of God’s graces & spirit, and the exclusive rightful owner of the munchkins, or person to invoke Jesus name. Instead of selfishly thinking for ourselves & of ourselves, he challenged us to be what we claim to be: Christians.
That is, if we claim to be Christians – a follower of Christ let us also be Christians in our attitude and behavior in our discipleship and relationship with one another & others. Since we call ourselves as Christians, we must also be Christ-like: tolerant open-minded, creative, non-exclusive at the same time determined and non-compromising in our faith in God’s salvation for all humanity through Jesus’ name.
Somehow our Pandemic realities nowadays are wake-up calls for us to realize not only our self-centered ways and attitudes in life demand our conversion & transformation, but most of all, these challenging times are our moments & opportunities for us to cooperate and share with one another God’s non-exclusive all-embracing intervention, protection, salvation, healing, and blessings that we do pray & really need at these times.
During these trying times, may Our Father & Your Will be always upon Us, Lord. Whatever & however our gifts, talents, limits & blessings we have now may be, allow us to contribute & cooperate with Your plans of saving us now and always. Amen.