Being Fully With The Lord, As the Lord Wills, Seventh Wednesday (II), February 26, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
February 26, 2014
James 4:13-17, Ps 49, Mk 9:38-40

To listen to a recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • During my years at Espirito Santo, I always loved how many of the parishioners, whenever I’d say to them in Portuguese “See you tomorrow,” they’d  reply, “Se Deus quiser” (“If God should will”). I used to joke with them that I didn’t know that they knew the Letter of St. James so well, something that caught most off-guard, because they didn’t know the Scriptural foundation for their good Christian habit. Today St. James discusses those who are always making plans for the future, saying things like, ““Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit.” He tells them, “You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. … Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.'”
  • “If the Lord wills it.” It’s a beautiful expression that first reminds that every day is a gift and it’s the Lord’s will that holds us in existence. We should entrust ourselves to his loving will in the present and leave the future to his Providence, remembering not to presume that we will automatically have a tomorrow. I’ve mentioned already during this two-week course on St. James at daily Mass that many Scripture scholars say that St. James’ letter is a step-by-step application of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. On this point about living in the present and not presuming upon tomorrow, Jesus, after describing that we shouldn’t worry about what we are to eat, drink, wear or live because our Providential Father knows we need all of these things and cares for us, stressed, “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” (Mt 6:29).
  • “If the Lord wills it.” St. James’ insight, based on the Lord’s own wisdom, applies far more than to how we should regard weekend plans. Everything in our life, every day in the present, we should entrust to the Lord’s will. Today in the Gospel Jesus makes clear God’s will in a very important dimension of Christian life.
  • St. 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.” Think about that for a moment: They were trying to prevent someone from casting out demons from someone because the person was not one of their number, as if Jesus’ will would rather be to allow the person to remain possessed! What they were also missing was that Jesus’ name was not some magical talisman by which demons could be expunged apart from God’s will. The only way the invocation of Jesus’ name would work would be if God were responding to the prayer of the exorcist. It was evident that this man casting out demons in the name of Jesus was doing so with the active cooperation of our exorcising God.
  • In his reply, Jesus sought to align St. John’s thinking to God’s thinking, his will to God’s. He said, “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.” Jesus was saying that this man, even though he wasn’t with them, was for them. He was on their side. It’s God’s will not to prevent anyone from working for the kingdom.
  • But when we hear this expression, “Whoever is not against us is for us,” it’s important for us to link it to something else Jesus said that on the surface seems contradictory. When he was explaining to those who accused him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” Jesus, after reminding them that divided kingdoms can’t stand, said, “Whoever is not with me is against me; whoever doesn’t gather with me, scatters” (Mt 12:30). When we harmonize the two seemingly contradictory passages, we learn two important truths.
  • First, it is possible from someone to be gathering “with Jesus” while not necessarily being visibly “with us.” That’s why we should never presume that someone who is not with us is necessarily not with Jesus. This is a key point in terms of ecumenical work for the kingdom and the common good.
  • But second and more profoundly, a harmonization helps us to see that there are parts of us that are with the Lord and parts of us that are not with Him. Parts of us gather with him and parts of us scatter. It’s God’s will that we seek to bring all parts of us into alignment with God.
  • The great opportunity we have for bringing our entire life into conformity with God happens at Mass as we seek to enter into holy Communion with him, something that is not meant to be partial but total. He wills that nothing in us will be against him but totally with him and with his Church. That’s why we begin every Mass calling to mind those parts of our life that aren’t in total agreement with God’s will and ask him for the grace to forgive us and to help us precisely achieve that total communion. This is God’s will. Isn’t it time in the present for us to give him at last what he desires?

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
JAS 4:13-17

Beloved:
Come now, you who say,
“Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town,
spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”–
you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.
You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.
Instead you should say,
“If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.”
But now you are boasting in your arrogance.
All such boasting is evil.
So for one who knows the right thing to do
and does not do it, it is a sin.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 49:2-3, 6-7, 8-10, 11

R. (Matthew 5:3) Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Hear this, all you peoples;
hearken, all who dwell in the world,
Of lowly birth or high degree,
rich and poor alike.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Why should I fear in evil days
when my wicked ensnarers ring me round?
They trust in their wealth;
the abundance of their riches is their boast.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Yet in no way can a man redeem himself,
or pay his own ransom to God;
Too high is the price to redeem one’s life; he would never have enough
to remain alive always and not see destruction.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
For he can see that wise men die,
and likewise the senseless and the stupid pass away,
leaving to others their wealth.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Gospel
MK 9:38-40

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.”