Twenty-sixth Sunday Sunday in Ordinary Time

Eldad and Medad were not in the tent when the Spirit of God came upon the 70 in the first reading from the Book of Numbers. Eldad and Medad weren’t there, but they still received the Spirit and began to prophesize[1].

In today’s Gospel, from Mark, the Disciples overstepped their bounds. A man who was not one of the Twelve was driving out demons in the name of Jesus. They tried to stop him.

Eldad and Medad, and man healing in the name of Jesus, were all sincere. They had received God’s spirit and were caring for God’s people.

These incidents should lead us to consider two questions: First: how do we distinguish between those who are truly authentic Christians and those who are using Christ for other purposes, money for example? And second: what should our relationship be with authentic Christians who are not Catholic?

The first question is easy. Jesus said, By your fruits you will know them[2]. When we come upon someone who uses the name of Jesus for their own personal profit, that person is not an authentic Christian. An authentic Christian, including those within the Catholic Church, does not turn religion into a lucrative business. In the Catholic church we have many very intricate procedures for handling the people’s donations mandated by the Diocese, but if priests or church workers find a way to get around these, they have to answer to the civil law first for thievery. Most of the main stream non-Catholic churches, synagogues, and mosques have similar procedures to ensure that the people’s tithes is used properly, but this does not necessarily exist in churches independent of any organized structure. People need to watch and even investigate to see whether the goal of the ministry is truly Jesus Christ or is the accumulation of wealth in his name. By their fruits you will know them.

The second question is more difficult: What should our relationship be with authentic Christians who are not Catholic? In the past, we would say that our relationship should be cordial, but I find that insufficient. Here we have people who are determined to praise and worship Jesus Christ and to bring His Love to the poor of the world. It is not enough to say that we should be cordial. It sounds like we are tolerating each other, sort of being forced to put up with each other. No, we can and must do far more than that. We should support each other. We should pray together. And we should pray for each other.

We Catholics should profoundly respect the call of non Catholics to authentic discipleship. We should also respect the call of those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ but who have received the Spirit of God.

We also should respect the call and gifts we have received within the Catholic Church. As Catholics we have been called into a Eucharistic relationship with the Lord. We have been given the great gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord as our means to the goal of union with the Father. Others have been given different gifts, and we respect them and their gifts. But we who were called to the Eucharist cannot abandon the Eucharist. It is right for us to pray with our non Catholic brothers and sisters. It is wrong for us to stop receiving communion in the Catholic Church. We can join them in prayer there, but we must always receive Eucharist here.

But why isn’t it good enough for us to receive communion in a Protestant Church that has communion services? Because in the various Protestant Churches, the Eucharist does not convey the same Reality it conveys in the Catholic Church[3]. No Protestant would say that this is really and truly the Body of Christ. They do not have tabernacles to worship before the Blessed Sacrament and to bring His Presence to others. They do not have Eucharistic Adoration. That is not their faith. And we respect that. We respect their faith and their belief. But we also respect our own faith and our own belief. We believe that when we receive communion we receive Jesus offering Himself at the Last Supper, dying on the Cross, rising on Easter Sunday. We have been given the Gift of the Eucharistic Presence. We treasure this Gift, we honor this Gift, and we adore the Divine Presence of the Lord.

It is perfectly correct for us to join non-Catholics in prayer, in service, and in support. It is incorrect for us to reject our Catholicism. If we have been admitted to the Eucharist, and we have, we cannot reject the Gift of the Eucharist. Moses did not tell Joshua to leave the meeting tent and join up with Eldad and Medad. Nor did Jesus tell his disciples to leave Him and follow the man driving demons out in Jesus’ name. But Moses and Jesus taught their followers and us to recognize the work of God from within and from outside of the immediate community. We treat our non-Catholic brothers and sisters with deep respect because we recognize that God can and does speak through them as He can and does speak through us.

The world is saturated with the Spirit of God. We just need to open our eyes to the good that others are doing to savor the presence of the Spirit around us. At the same time, we need to recognize that the Spirit is moving and active in our own immediate community, in our own individual families, and in our Mother: the Holy Roman Catholic Church ■

[1] Sunday 27th September, 2009, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Numbers 11:25-29.The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart—Ps 18(19):8, 10, 12-14. James 5:1-6. Mark 9:38-43, 45 47-48 [St Vincent de Paul].
[2] Matthew 7:16
[3] Protestant churches tend not to accept the Catholic and Orthodox doctrine of apostolic succession and associated ideas regarding the sacramental ministry of the clergy, though there are some exceptions to this. Protestant ministers and church leaders therefore generally play a somewhat different role in their communities than Catholic and Orthodox priests and bishops.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris