26th Sunday of O.T. (B)
ON UNITY, SCANDAL & OCCASIONS OF SIN
Today’s Sunday liturgy presents to us a wide array of topics to consider in our Christian life. Nevertheless, we shall limit ourselves to 3 ideas mentioned in the title above.
- The 1st reading (Num 11:25–29) and the Gospel (Mk 9:38–43, 45, 47–48) warn us against the erroneous attitudes of EXCLUSIVISM and MONOPOLY in the apostolate.
- In the 1st reading Moses asked the Lord to give his spirit to other elders of the tribe since he did not feel that he had sufficient strength to carry all the responsibility by himself. The Lord took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders in a tent and immediately began to prophesy. However two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed back in the camp and the spirit came down on them and began to prophesy as well! Joshua told Moses 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!”
- A similar event is recounted in the Gospel: “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.’”
- The above-mentioned episodes teach us that WE CANNOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF BEING JEALOUS AND ENVIOUS WHEN OTHER CATHOLICS AND/OR CHRISTIANS DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. HOW MANY CALUMNIES, INJUSTICES, PERSECUTION AND HARM WERE DONE TO COUNTLESS SOULS DUE TO THIS EXCLUSIVISTIC AND MONOPOLISTIC MENTALITY IN THE HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!
- DIFFERENT CHRISTIAN INSTITUTIONS AND GROUPS SHOULD WORK HAND IN HAND REJECTING THE IDEA THAT “GOOD IS NOT GOOD UNLESS I AM THE ONE WHO DOES IT,” but rather, accept Our Lord’s teaching: GOOD IS GOOD, EVEN IF IT IS NOT I WHO DOES IT, for the HOLY SPIRIT, THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, BLOWS WHERE IT PLEASES (Jn 3:8)
- It is true that the HOLY SPIRIT WHICH IS THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, BLOWS WHERE IT PLEASES (cf Jn 3:8) and on this regard, it is worthwile to remind ourselves on the following points. The Catholic Church acknowledges that “OUTSIDE HER STRUCTURE, MANY ELEMENTS CAN BE FOUND OF SANCTIFICATION AND TRUTH… But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that ‘THEY DERIVE THEIR EFFICACY FROM THE VERY FULLNESS OF GRACE AND TRUTH ENTRUSTED TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (Dominus Iesus, n. 17)’” Catholics must bear in mind the following teachings which St. John Paul II reminded us the DECLARATION “DOMINUS IESUS” ON THE UNICITY AND SALVIFIC UNIVERSALITY OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH. Jesus Christ is the only universal Mediator and Savior and is inseparable from His Mystical Body, which is the Church He founded on Peter as foundation. All salvation passes through Jesus Christ and His Church.
- “THE CATHOLIC FAITHFUL ARE REQUIRED TO PROFESS THAT THERE IS AN HISTORICAL CONTINUITY — ROOTED IN THE APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION— BETWEEN THE CHURCH FOUNDED BY CHRIST AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: “This is the single Church of Christ… which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth’ (1 Tim 3:15).
- THIS CHURCH, CONSTITUTED AND ORGANIZED AS A SOCIETY IN THE PRESENT WORLD, SUBSISTS IN [SUBSISTIT IN] THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”. With the expression SUBSISTIT IN, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements:
- on the one hand, that THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, DESPITE THE DIVISIONS WHICH EXIST AMONG CHRISTIANS, CONTINUES TO EXIST FULLY ONLY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH,
- and on the other hand, that “OUTSIDE OF HER STRUCTURE, MANY ELEMENTS CAN BE FOUND OF SANCTIFICATION AND TRUTH”, that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church.But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that “THEY DERIVE THEIR EFFICACY FROM THE VERY FULLNESS OF GRACE AND TRUTH ENTRUSTED TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH”.
- WITH THE COMING OF THE SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, GOD HAS WILLED THAT THE CHURCH FOUNDED BY HIM BE THE INSTRUMENT FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL HUMANITY (cf. Acts 17:30-31).This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another’”. IF IT IS TRUE THAT THE FOLLOWERS OF OTHER RELIGIONS CAN RECEIVE DIVINE GRACE, IT IS ALSO CERTAIN THAT OBJECTIVELY SPEAKING THEY ARE IN A GRAVELY DEFICIENT SITUATION IN COMPARISON WITH THOSE WHO, IN THE CHURCH, HAVE THE FULLNESS OF THE MEANS OF SALVATION.
- In treating the question of the true religion, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “WE BELIEVE THAT THIS ONE TRUE RELIGION CONTINUES TO EXIST IN THE CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH, TO WHICH THE LORD JESUS ENTRUSTED THE TASK OF SPREADING IT AMONG ALL PEOPLE. Thus, he said to the Apostles: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28: 19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it”. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, nn. 17, 22-23)
- Our Lord as well taught us the OBLIGATIONS to AVOID SCANDAL and OCCASIONS OF SIN.
“ If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched (Mk 9:39-40; 42-48).”
- “SCANDAL IS AN ATTITUDE OR BEHAVIOR WHICH LEADS ANOTHER TO DO EVIL. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense (Catechism, n. 2284).” It can be provoked by laws, institutions, mass communication, fashion, opinion. Those who by reason of their authority establish laws or structures, or by reason of their profession promote activities, means of entertainment, business which lead others to commit evil and contribute to the decline of morals and religious practice are guilty of scandal. Such is its gravity that Our Lord said: “it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
- On the other hand, Our Lord encourages us to be RESOLUTE IN OUR DETERMINATION TO AVOID OCCASIONS OF SIN: to “cut off” that which separates us from Him, NOT IN A LITERAL SENSE AS IF ONE HAS TO AMPUTATE BODY PARTS which lead one to sin, but rather in a SPIRITUAL SENSE. If we are really determined to love God, then we shall want what He wants (good works) and reject what He rejects (sin). In this sense, daily interior struggle to be always prudent out of love for God is necessary. We should often ask ourselves: does this thought, image, imagination, desire, action lead me to God? If so, then forward. If not, then, as St. Josemaria said: “Don’t show the cowardice of being ‘brave’; take to your heels! (The Way, n. 132)” Let us be wise enough not to go near a barking and ferocious dog or worse, a raging bull! Rather, for love of God, let us run away from every
- The expression ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched,’ taken from Is 66:24, was used by Our Lord to refer to the torments of hell. Often “the worm that does not die” is explained as the eternal remorse felt by those in hell; and the “fire which is not quenched,” as their physical pain. The Fathers also say that both things may possibly refer to physical torments. In any case, the punishment in question is terrible and unending (“The Gospels”, Navarre Bible, Scepter Press, Commentary to Mk 9:44 (48))
Dear friends, let us then ask God through Our Lady, Mother of the Church and Refuge of Sinners, so that all Christians may be united in working for the salvation of souls and rejoice with the good done by others; at the same time, let us ask for the grace to be determined to avoid scandal and all occasions of sin.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
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