Central idea: Value the good others possess; abhor your own evil. Doctrine: Ecumenism. Practical application: How to be a more ecumenical Catholic.
Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)
This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)
To view Lectionary 137, click here.
Central idea: Value the good others possesses; abhor your own evil
Reading 1 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!”
- God decided to which men he would give a share of the prophetic grace he had given to Moses. Moses was glad that those two elders who had not been with the others still received this gift. In fact, he wished every one of the Chosen People had received it.
- Likewise, we should be glad for the gifts others have received and should wish everyone had every gift.
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,
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.
- The entire natural and divine moral law is beautiful and good. If we don’t see this yet, we can ask God for the grace—and he will give it to us.
- “Cleanse me from my unknown faults.” We can be blind to aspects of our own behavior and character. That is why it is wise to pray for this light.
- Ordinarily, these faults may be unknown to oneself but others can see them.
- It is also wise to pray for the grace not to let “wanton” or “serious sin” rule over one. In today’s Gospel, Our Lord provides stern and even terrifying warnings against committing serious sins and causing others to fail.
Reading 2 Jas 5:1-6
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.
- The rich St. James warns are those who have gotten wealth unjustly and used it only for their own benefit.
- They could have acquired their property justly and used their gain for good works.
- Their wealth is their downfall rather that the fuel of their glory.
Alleluia Cf. Jn 17:17b, 17a
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
- To consecrate is to make sacred or holy. The truth is the Word of God, Christ himself, revealed by all he did and said. The Gospel is not just information but has the power to change us.
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.'”
- We can applaud and support anyone doing any real good, whether they are in the Church or out of it. The reason for this is that good is objectively good: it is good regardless of the person who is doing it. This is why persons who don’t know the Catholic faith can be saved by their cooperation with hidden graces to lead good lives as best they can.
Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. (Gaudium et spes 16)
- In the same way, evil is evil regardless of who does it. But in a sense, evil done by a follower of Christ is even worse than evil done by an unbeliever, because we know better and have more grace to do what is right.
- Our Lord’s hyperbolic words do not mean we should mutilate ourselves. Rather, nothing is worse than for us to commit a mortal sin or to cause another to do so.
- The ecumenical movement has the aim of the reunification of all Christians. The Church tells us that this goal is God’s will: “The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 820).
- “Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: ‘That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me.’” (CCC 820).
- This unity, bestowed by Christ on his bride, the Church, from the beginning, “subsists in the Catholic Church” and is something that she cannot lose” (CCC 820).
- Of course, divisions arose at once, but especially noteworthy are the Catholic/Orthodox schism a thousand years ago and the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago.
- The Catholic Church sees all the baptized as separated brethren.
Practical application: How to be a more ecumenical Catholic
- While pastors and theologians have the major responsibility for ecumenical action, the Catechism (CCC 821) points out some things that even ordinary Catholics can do.
- One is “conversion of heart as the faithful ‘try to live holier lives according to the Gospel.’” The best witness to draw others to the fullness of the faith is our personal holiness. So, if we want to see the reunification of all Christians, we should be the best Catholics we can be.
- Another is public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, including appropriate prayer in common with separated brethren. This is called spiritual ecumenism. We do not worship together but we can pray together under the right circumstances.
- Yet another is “Fraternal knowledge of each other.” This means getting to know non-Catholic Christians personally, becoming friends, and learning what those friends believe. This presupposes we know our own Catholic faith very well. Otherwise, we risk becoming non-Catholics or misrepresenting our faith to our separated brothers.
- And finally, “collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind.” Just as we should esteem good being done by anyone who does it, we can collaborate in good works with non-Catholic Christians in countless ways.
- The Catechism also points out a special opportunity Catholics who are married to non-Catholics have. Couples in mixed marriages can learn to live out their respective faiths, overcoming “the tensions between the couple’s obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them” (CCC 1636).
- In addition, the Catholic spouse should always pray for the conversion of the other to the fullness of the Catholic faith.