Sept. 27, Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B. Readings:
1) Numbers 11:25-29
Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-14
2) James 5:1-6
Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
If you have any exposure at all to social or news media, you cannot escape the relentless public discourse about sin — even if the “s” word isn’t used. Behaviors that used to be whispered about in private, especially if committed by public figures, are now analyzed, condemned, applauded and endlessly commented upon for all to see. Following scandals through the news cycle has become a popular pastime.
This Sunday’s readings are all about public sin and hidden sin, how condemnation of the former can serve as a smokescreen to conceal the latter, and what “scandal” really means.
Joshua, Moses’ longtime aide and a God-fearing man, responded with the best of intentions when he learned about Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp in the same fashion as the 70 elders of Israel who had received the Lord’s spirit. Scandalized, he protested to Moses — who saw through Joshua’s public complaint to the jealousy hidden beneath.
The apostle John had a similar grievance when he observed someone outside Jesus’ inner circle driving out demons in Jesus’ name. John’s well-meaning objection concealed a deeper prejudice that led him to try to prevent the outsider from doing good. Jesus exposed John’s hidden sin and corrected his faulty perspective in short order.
James’ epistle makes the claim that even the well-concealed injustices committed by rich and influential people will eventually see the light of day — the cries of their victims will reach “the ears of the Lord of hosts,” ensuring that hidden sin will one day be seen for the public scandal that it is.
These days, Christians can point to many public policies, cultural shifts and immoral behaviors that are objectionable to people of faith, and they can quite reasonably claim to be scandalized. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.” Those who have power to influence have a particular responsibility to avoid causing scandal, it says. That certainly applies to those of us within the church who can find it much too easy to conceal our own faults behind our public comments on the sins of others.
From what “hidden faults” have you blinded yourself or others? How has the desire to protect your own ego caused hurt or scandal?