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Reflection on the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on September 26, 2021, by Eleanor Craig SL

Numbers 11:25-29 James 5:1-6 Mark 9:38 … 48

“Whoever is not against us is for us.”  With these cryptic words, Jesus breaks through the partisan clannishness of his disciples and puts us all on notice that the team of God’s co-workers is more inclusive than we might think, or prefer.

We’re introduced to God’s inclusiveness in the first reading, a story drawn from the  endless wanderings of the Jewish people in the desert. This particular story begins with the people wailing and complaining to Moses that they are tired of manna.  They want meat, and if they don’t get it, they will turn around and head back to Egypt.  Moses goes to God and says, “I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t carry the whole tribe by myself.”  God offers to put some of Moses’ spirit into others, so they can help bear Moses’ burdens.  In the passage we read a few minutes ago, the elders are gathered and receive Moses’ spirit from God.  Joshua warns Moses that others, not present in the gathering, are also claiming to have Moses’ spirit.  Moses’ response is as inclusive as Jesus’ reaction.  He chides Joshua for trying to protect his privileges and exclaims, “Would that God would bestow spirit on everyone!”

The Gospel readings of this week continue a passage we began last week. Together they explore the true vocation of Jesus’ disciples.  Last week, Jesus told his followers to stop seeking prestige and position; they are to devote themselves to doing loving service, even among the most humble, even for a single child. This week, his lesson is about true power, the spiritual power to do good.  The disciples report they have stopped someone from healing in Jesus’ name “because he does not follow us.”  Jesus tells them power doesn’t come from whatever group one follows.  Spiritual power comes from God and can be recognized in the compassionate work one does.  Jesus’ disciples are to welcome it wherever they find it.

 In our own time, fierce partisan politics have polarized us into hardened groups. Even in our Community, where we can trust that each one intends good and gives loving service, we still are burdened with fears and polarized visions of the future. We have the same calling as Jesus’ disciples. We can be confident that God bestows on each of us Jesus’ spirit of openness and inclusion.  It is our strength and guide in the daily efforts to listen to contrary ideas, to consider unfamiliar or unwelcome practices, to include people we fear or find alien, to welcome compassion and encourage loving service even when it comes from beyond our own circles. 

May this time in prayer this morning open our hearts to recognize God’s co-workers in the good they do.  May we be renewed with the guidance, grace and power God offers to live our vocation of loving service for the rest of this one day.


Eleanor Craig SL

Eleanor has been a Sister of Loretto since 1963 and an educator since birth. She graduated from two of Loretto's best known St. Louis institutions, Nerinx Hall High School in 1960, and Webster University in 1967. She taught mathematics at Loretto in Kansas City, where her personal passion for adventure history inspired her to develop and lead treks along the historic Oregon Trail. From 1998 to 2010 she created an award-winning program of outdoor adventure along the Western trails for teens who are visually impaired. Eleanor claims to have conducted more wagon trains to the West than the Mountain Men! From 2012 to 2021, Eleanor led a talented staff of archivists and preservationists at the Loretto Heritage Center on the grounds of the Motherhouse. Now retired, she still serves in the Heritage Center as Loretto Community Historian.