Week of 24th September 2018 (reference: readings for Sunday 30th September)
26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Readings: Numbers 11,25-29; Tg 5,1-6; c 9,38-43.45-47-48
“Who is not against us is in favour of us”
The readings for this Sunday focus on two issues which concur in the end. The first is the meaning of prophesying. The second is the radical choice of justice. The two issues have much to do with the Vincentian vocation and are at the rationale and at the beginning of Conferences.
The prophet is a messenger. Both in the Book of Numbers and in Mark’s Gospel, it is questioned who is entitled to be a prophet. Moses’ young disciple and John, Jesus’ disciple, focus on the ritualism that only who belongs to the community of the chosen can be a prophet. Both Moses (in Numbers) and Jesus (in Mark) present a much more liberating, and merciful vision. They say that we should not judge the prophets and consider them false from the start: we must let them show if they are “in favour of God” or “against God”.
James states categorically that the rich does not get salvation. But, for James being rich – in this context – is not just having money. We can have money and be saved! James explains that the rich who is not saved is the one who treats the employee unfairly, it is who “leads on earth an easy and libertine life” and this is what sentences and kills the righteous. In the Gospel, Jesus is even more radical: He orders symbolically to “cut off our hand or foot” if they cause scandal. According to him, it is better to enter Heaven without a hand or a foot, i.e. without vice, without injustice, without the libertine life and without killing the righteous – ultimately without being rich – than losing salvation.
The Vincentian has the obligation to prophesy. The first Conference (the “Conference of History”) was set up in the academic world to defend the Church from the attacks from the prophets who were “against God”. Ozanam used to learn from the visit to the Poor (his master), he transformed himself (he converted) and he took the teachings of the Poor to others (he prophesied). But he was not a false prophet, because he had a completely coherent life: he preached what he lived and lived what he learned in the house of the Poor. Therefore, he learned from Christ himself who was present in the sanctuary of poverty.
The Vincentian is also consistent in his work and in his social life. By learning from the visit to the poor, he always chooses justice in everything he does: he respects those who work for him as true Sons of God, he lives a fertile and virtuous life and, above all, he never kills the righteous. On the contrary, the vincentian elevates, protects and captivates the righteous, because justice is in the centre of the Vincentian vocation.