Detailed homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: WINNING TOGETHER
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday September 26 2021
R1 – Num 11:25-29
R2 – James 5:1-6
GOSPEL – Mk 9:38-43, 47-48
A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, except one little boy who, tumbled, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down, then all turned around and went back……every one of them. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes.
Beloved in Christ, we could pause a while and ask ourselves, “Why did the teeming crowd accord these teenagers some cheering and standing ovations?” Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning and succeeding for ourselves alone. What matters in this life is helping others win, and being happy when they win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.
However, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy, propel us to shun and avoid the tendency of winning and succeeding alone. Obviously, jealousy and envy have been the bane of winning-together-mentality. These vices force us to frown and feel uneasy when others are excelling and succeeding. In the first reading, we find jealousy, in its destructive form of envy, raising its ugly head in Moses’ assistant and successor, Joshua. Moses and seventy future helpers were called by the Lord God to the Tent of Meeting for the Spirit-giving Ordination ceremony. But two of the invitees were absent, and Joshua could not tolerate these absent men prophesying in the camp without receiving God’s Spirit in the Tent of Meeting. Moses had to instruct Joshua to be tolerant and eschew jealousy.
Unfortunately, we equally find the winning-alone-mentality exhibited by the apostles, which may have been orchestrated by jealousy and envy. John complains to Jesus that a man outside their group of selected disciples has been exorcising demons in Jesus’ Name, despite their attempt to prevent him from doing so. Jesus responds by giving the Apostles lessons in Jesus’ own kind of tolerance and in the reward to be given to outsiders for good deeds they have done for the apostles because they are the disciples of Jesus.
*JEALOUSY VS ENVY:* *THE BANE OF WINNING-TOGETHER-MENTALITY*
Among the themes accruing from the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy is that of stain warning against envy and jealousy.
The apostles wanted to reserve God’s love and healing power to themselves as the “sole owners” and “authorized distributors….” Joshua equally tried to monopolize and limit the power and manifestation of God’s spirit.
It is pertinent to note that, among the seven deadly sins is envy– which sometimes we find difficult to differentiate from jealousy. In the strict sense, Jealousy is wishing you had what someone else has, which could either be positive or negative. When it takes the negative form, it turns to the worse, which is envy, thereby, wishing they didn’t have it at all or succeeding at all.
William Shakespeare called jealousy “the green eyed monster of envy,” that can lure one to hate and kill, while Thomas Aquinas defined envy as, “sorrows at another’s good.” Most fights, quarrels, and strife in life come from these terrible vices. That is why the scripture says,
*-“love doesn’t envy–perfect love casts out jealousy and envy.* (Check the expression very well). We see then that envy is a by-product of self love, which is pride. Filling your life with love, God’s love, is the greatest antidote to envy. When we love God we will not despise others. (Corinthians 13:4).
Nevertheless, jealousy and envy are inseparable vices that no one will admit to, because it is such a wicked thing. Envy- a rejoicing over the misfortunes or failures of others. These two, jealousy and envy are simply the spark that starts hell’s fire. They often echo with one accord, “if I can’t make it, then nobody can make it.”
In the following scriptural episodes, we see ugly manifestations of envy and jealousy:
(i) The killing of Abel by Cain was underlined by envy and jealousy (Gen 4:10).
(ii) The hatred and consequent selling of Joseph to slavery were facilitated by envy and jealousy (Gen 37:4, 18-20).
(iii) Saul’s unquenchable thirst to kill David was orchestrated by envy and jealousy (1Sam 18:8-).
(iv) The incarceration of the Israelites in Egypt was indeed spurred by envy and jealousy over their rapid growth and progress (Ex 1:10).
(1) *GUARD AGAINST JEALOUSY AND ENVY*
Jealousy and envy are innate tendencies that should be guarded. Sometimes, they don’t make public announcement that they have taken control. To guard against them, one must be mindful of monopoly and winning-alone-mentality. One must equally be ready to accept others success, even when they come before or after ours.
Imagine the apostles who have on few occasions attempted some unsuccessful exorcisms (Mtt. 17:16-19), saw this unknown man driving out demons in their own master’s name, even without passing through the formal apostolic training under the *tuteledge* (tutelage) of their master; they may have been jealous of this stranger. Jesus, however, reprimanded them for their jealousy and suspicion and invites them to broaden their vision and to recognize God’s power wherever it is found.
(2) *WE SHOULD LEARN TO TOLERATE EACH OTHER*
Intolerance rising from fear and envy has never ceased to exist in our families, communities and most especially, churches. In order to *nib intolerance from the bud,*(nip intolerance in the bud) we must eschew being judgmental, narrow-minded, rigid and condemning. The cause of Christ is not served by one’s rejecting ways to God different from one’s own, or by one’s claiming that no real good can take place outside the boundaries of one’s own denomination, belief or orientation. Charismatics should learn to tolerate Marian devotees, Precious blood devotees should learn to tolerate the choristers and instrumentalists and vice versa. It is through mutual respect that we find common ground with others and discover strengths in different beliefs and orientations. Wherever we see God’s work being done, we should give it our support and be ready to work together with those doing the work, whether they are Christians or not, believers or not.
Finally, an ancient Greek story was narrated about a young man who so distinguished himself in public games that his fellow citizens and teammates raised a statue in his honour, to keep fresh the memory of his victories. This statue so excited the envy of another rival who had been defeated in the races, that one night he *stole out* (sneaked out) under cover of darkness with the intention to destroy the statue. But he only nicked it slightly. He gave it a final heave and it fell – on top of him and killed him.
Beloved, jealousy and envy always bounce back to harm the one who is guilty of it with frustrations, failure and death.
MAY THE GOOD LORD GRANT US A DOCILE HEART THAT IS FREE FROM ENVY AND JEALOUSY – A HEART THAT RECOGNIZES AND TOLERATES GOD’S GOODNESS IN THE LIFE OF OTHERS.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_