26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Numbers 11:25-29 II:
38 John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not
39 But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil
40 For he that is not against us is for us.
41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means
lose his reward.
42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were
hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to
the unquenchable fire.
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with
two eyes to be thrown into hell,
48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
- (v.38) The fact that the exorcist was able to cast out demons "in
the name of Jesus" showed that he recognized the power of Jesus. He
was successful eventhough he was "not following us," meaning not a
disciple. In contrast, the sons of Sceva invoked the name of Jesus
unsuccessfully (Acts 19:13-16). The presumption is that one who does good
deeds in Jesus name cannot be his enemy.
- (v.42) Jesus uses strong metaphors to warn against leading simple
Christians, "the little ones who believe in me," astray by shaking
their faith. "A great millstone" is originally a "donkey millstone,"
that is very heavy and must be turned by donkeys instead of by hand.
Death by drowning is a Roman punishment and thus repugnant to Jews.
- (v.43) The word hell originally was "Gehenna." Gehenna was a ravine
south of Jerusalem, where infants were offered in sacrifice to
Moloch (Jer. 7:31). It was later used as a dump for refuse.
As a site of ill-omen, it came to symbolize the place of future
- (v.48) "where the worms do not die, and the fire is not quenched"
is a quotation from Isaiah 66:24. It referred to Gehenna, with the image of
maggots feeding on dung, and the perpetual burning of refuse.
One Main Point
Jesus instructs his disciples about how to be a witness of Christ. It
involves tolerance for those who are not members of the Church:
"whoever is not against us is for us" (v.40). At the same time, Jesus
advocates intolerance for sin, as this is a matter of life versus death.
- In my daily life, where have I given bad example to others and thus
"leading them astray?"
- Which are the occasions, the situations that tend to lead me to my
How willing am I to avoid these tempting occasions/situations?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community