Today’s ‘Soul Food’ reflects on the Gospel for Sunday 30th September, the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Click on Mass Readings on Homepage, and on Sunday Readings, for text: St. Mark, Chapter 9, verses 38-43, also verse 45, verses 47-48,- or find it in your own Gospel of Mark.
Dear Sinead and Mark,
Can I tell you that today’s Gospel is a tough one to think about. The reading given us for today is from St. Mark and is a collection of a number of rather difficult sayings: can we unwrap them just a little bit? (Remember the Jewish saying: ‘Every story has 30 layers, and a Rabbi can only show you one layer.’)
‘WILL YOU HAVE A CUPPA ?’ Mrs. Doyle, in Fr. Ted – ‘ Ah go on, have a cup, you will, you will, you will! ‘ . Isn’t it great to give someone a cuppa, or even a cup of water, when thirsty. When you’re kind to another human, you’re kind to their Maker.
‘NORTH CIDER/ SOUTH CIDER’: And then, in today’s Gospel reading (Mark Chapter 9: verse 38 and following)- what about Outsiders and Insiders (or, as the Bulmers’ Ad in Dublin says ‘North Cider/South Cider’) : ‘But he’s not one of us!’,- he or she is a foreigner, an Outsider, not an Insider, not One of Us. How dare they be doing good things, and they not one of Us! –in our camp, our organization, our side of the river, our side of the railway tracks: They can’t be good, surely, LORD!’
OOPS! Sinead and Mark, I got it wrong again. That’s not the Way of the Master. That’s not how he thinks. Better catch myself on, here. ANYBODY who does good, who gives even a cuppa to somebody, or who brings any kind of healing to another person… must be on the Master’s side. ‘Master, we saw somebody who is not following US, casting out devils in your name. We tried to stop him, because he was not one of US!’
But Jesus is correcting us: ‘Don’t stop them if they are doing something good, – even if it’s only giving someone a glass of water to cool their thirst. They mightn’t be one of YOU or your lot, but they certainly belong to me, if they act like that. Just because they are different from you doesn’t mean they don’t belong to ME. Stop excluding people who are different, who are not following YOUR crowd.
OF MILLSTONES AND THE SEA: here is a very tough saying, one of the toughest images Jesus ever used. Jesus doesn’t put a tooth in it! He uses a very powerful image to speak a very powerful truth:- don’t even think of harming another person, little or big. What you do to another human being, you do to me! And if you cause somebody to lose faith, if your life is an obstacle to them, then let me tell you that it’s mighty hurtful not only to them but to me! To harm another like that, to cause somebody to stumble,- well, let me tell you it’s serious! And to impress on you (says Jesus) how wrong it is, let me use this image, he says: someone who does it deserves to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his or her neck! Sorry to be so blunt, he says, but I need to impress this deeply in your heart and community,- harm another, and you harm God! Your heavenly Father identifies with every human being on the planet,- whether ‘one of yours’ or not.
Remember this: every one is the Only One, before our Maker.
And Jesus might even take that line from Mrs. Doyle: ’Ah, go on, go on, go on!’- love one another, the way I have loved you’,- ’this much’, as he stretches his arms wide between heaven and earth and pours out his love for us and on us- ALL of us.
God bliss you and bless you, Sinead, Mark,- thanks for taking the time to read this. Have a great week. Walk close to the Master.
(my email: firstname.lastname@example.org)