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24 Sep

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The In Crowd

Two elders who were not in the original group receive the Spirit and begin to prophesy. Those in the tent object and demand that Moses stop them. Moses responds with a question about their jealousy and then announces his wish that “all the people of the Lord” were prophets. Exclusion or inclusion? Moses certainly turns the tables on human consciousness and invites and includes the gifts of all who are people of the Lord.

James names the excluded as well. He calls to task those who withhold wages from workers, who turn a deaf ear to the cries of injustice. And Mark uses images of self-mutilation to make a strong point, to grab our attention. What are our stumbling blocks? What holds us back from responding to the needs of others, from listening to the cries of the hurting? Do we all make choices about what we do with our time? About what gets our attention? How are we channeling our energies? What priorities do we have? What do we “cut out” or “cut off” in our lives to make room for the work of the Holy Spirit?

Perhaps we don’t give ourselves time spent in silence so we can hear the voice of God, let the Spirit enter, and experience the call to “announce the good news.” Perhaps the people we choose to spend time with do not bring out the best in us. Perhaps the news source I follow is not bringing joy, not exploring possibilities or solutions, but continues to divide and polarize.

The “In Crowd” is something attractive to many. Moses and Jesus invite us to explore other possibilities—possibilities that are ours through the work of the Holy Spirit who comes to us in Baptism anointing us to baptismal priesthood, baptismal prophecy, and baptismal kingship. Are our choices leading us to God and one another or away from God and the good of one another? How big is our tent? Who is at the table? Who can prophesy? Who can minister to others in Jesus’ name? Both Moses and Jesus advocate for inclusion over exclusion. Is EVERYBODY in?

An additional resource for reflection on this Sunday’s readings: