On the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus Christ gathers us for a “spiritual tune-up.” The Body of Christ, the only reality on which we should focus, is a very complex, sensitive, delicate organism. To borrow one of Jesus’ favorite terms: in the Body of Christ the best, and most productive adherents are the little ones, the weak, fragile, insignificant, powerless members of the Community. And, arguably, one of the biggest challenges for all of us as integral parts of Christ, inseparable from him, is to get the little ones—all of us included—to be prophets. “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!” This was God’s wish, way back then, as voiced through the mouth of Moses and, seemingly, this is what Jesus intends, to make us, little ones, on this very day.
First of all, we shouldn’t be offended by this terminology; but, rather, honored to be considered fragile, delicate, powerless, insignificant. Throughout history God has consistently, without exception, chosen the most unfit, the weakest, the most improbable to get His job done. To Him alone, all glory and honor forever and ever.
We cannot forget what Jesus has taught us: we must embrace insignificance and powerlessness; i.e. we ought to “welcome a child” in order to welcome him; as if to say that by adopting his humble attitude we find our way to the Father’s heart. To “welcome a child” implies to be docile and submissive to his touch; obedient to his command; prompt to do his bidding.
Humility, acceptance of our powerlessness and insignificance are the prerequisites for living within the Body of Christ in the most enriching and grace-filled way. These unusual virtues that we admire so much in people and, instinctively, draw us to them, are indispensable for placing ourselves wholeheartedly at the service of the Body as prophets and “exorcists.”
Many of us Westerners fall into the trap of efficiency. Many would like the Body of Christ to be run the way a CEO runs a large company. Our challenge is, instead, to let God use us and others, as little ones, to do the humanly impossible with reliance on supernatural means such as God’s Word and the Eucharist.
Alas, some people dream of all kinds of fine, glamorous things they want to do for the glory of God, instead of placing themselves in a humble, listening mode, and of being prophets and exorcists precisely in the unglamorous places to which the Lord calls them to minister.
Thus far, we might have overlooked the tremendous impact that we can have as prophets in our little corner of the Body. We might have overlooked, also, the fact that it is a mission which could get us involved around the clock, every single day of the week. The way we handle success and failures; the way we use our resources; what we buy; how we avoid wasting things; our attitude of showing that people are more important than material possessions; the way we face the trials of life; how we deal with disabilities and sickness; the boldness in our bearing witness to Christ speak volumes and make or break (if we fail) the Body of Christ around us.
The same is true of us as “exorcists.” You must be wondering if our world is getting more and more possessed by sinister demons. In the Book of James (5:1-6), James speaks of how destructive the demon of greed is. It can lead to trampling even upon affections and family ties; it can lead to crushing the rights of others; to driving the poor into miserable, inhumane conditions—even to cruel exploitation, hopelessness and despair. To the demon of greed we should add all other demons that cause loss of sleep and peace of mind or that keep one from loving, i.e. from living out the new commandment of loving each other as Jesus loved us from the cross. It is a very daunting mission we are called to carry out, as the Lord God pours His Spirit upon us in this Eucharist as He did on the day of our Baptism and Confirmation.
Naturally, without God’s Word, without becoming one with him by eating his flesh and drinking his blood, this mission as prophets and exorcists would be impossible. Today, Jesus wishes to free us of our demons, provided that we so intensely and genuinely desire it for we believe that our dignity as adopted children of God demands it. Our regained freedom would make us bold in unmasking demons that oppress people about whom we care much. Our regained freedom would cast out demons through heartfelt prayer, fasting and bold witnessing to the truth. Our success depends on docile adherence to the will of our Father and full reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Most likely, we will be sent to unglamorous places: to our own family before our local community; and to our community before anywhere else. But, wherever we are sent, we shall start with prudence and humility, mindful that, oftentimes, our pride gets in the way, yet also knowing that even something as little as a glass of cold water given to another little one in the name of Christ will get rewarded. None of our efforts, sacrifices and goodwill will go unnoticed.
Today we can make our choice final. It should be the choice of giving all of ourselves, in total humility and docility, to the wellbeing and up-building of the Body, knowing that we are either little, yet effective members of it or we are trash to be thrown into the dump of Gehenna.