Thursday 30th Sept Feria 10.00am
Sunday 3rd Oct Parish Mass 9.30am
Our newly revamped Church Mice Cafe is open every Tuesday from 10.00am to 11.45am for a coffee and a natter.
How easy is it to get away with using someone else’s work? Plagiarism, the passing off of someone else’s ideas or work as one’s own, has a bad name. I saw recently how one comedian accused another of using one of his jokes as though it were his own. The joke was about an internet-connected fridge that sent out so many messages it was like a nagging partner. This was why he didn’t plan to get married. I can see that you are not exactly helpless with laughter, but if this were your joke, you might not want someone else using it.
Both in the book of Numbers and in St Mark’s gospel today we see people who are copying someone else’s work and there are people who are up in arms about it. The spirit that had come down upon Moses and on those who were with him at the time, was inspiring two men, who continued to prophesy. Some people complained to Moses to tell these people to stop, but Moses told them not to be jealous on his account.
In a similar way, there was a man casting out evil in the name of Jesus and his disciples were scandalised. They went to tell Jesus that he was doing these things in his name. Jesus responded by saying that if this man was doing good works in his name, then he must not be stopped from doing so. He may not have been numbered among the disciples, but there was no doubt that he was on the same side as Jesus.
God is generous in the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. When we receive that gift in baptism and when it is confirmed within us, this is something very special, but it is never exclusive. Faith is deeply personal but it is never a purely private matter. Last week we heard in the letter of St James about how faith is not about indulging our own desires. Neither is faith limited to our personal salvation, but it expresses itself through good works that are for the benefit of others
One of the five marks of mission is to respond to human need through loving service. Christians are called to live out their faith in generosity of spirit. This is why we support the Women’s Refuge. The recipients of that generosity and practical care may not themselves be committed Christians. They may be people with messy lives, who have made mistakes along the way. Our part is not to judge whether people are deserving or not, as our society often encourages us to do, but instead to see people who are loved by God and who need our care.
As Christians and as disciples who learn from Jesus, we are all called to take part in God’s Mission (Missio Dei). The mission of the Church is God’s mission and not ours. So we are chosen by God to join in with the work that we see Jesus doing. This is the work that the Holy Spirit empowers people to do in every age. As the people of God we have been given freedom. Of course we can use that freedom to exalt ourselves and to dominate other people and to choose our own path. This would not be a path that leads to life, but would lead us and other people astray, with serious consequences for us and for them. Jesus speaks of this in the gospel. A better use of our freedom is to build others up, to encourage them and to enable them to find their place in the Mission of God.
We see in Jesus the scope of God’s generosity. Jesus did not share his disciples’ jealousy when they came across someone who was bringing hope and healing to other people in his name. Instead he recognised that work as being his own. Unlike a comedian or a musician, protective of the thing he has created, Jesus rejoices when other people take up his work and join in. They are on his side and this can only be to the good. Church members do not have a monopoly on charitable work or in showing goodness to other people. There are many good things that go on in the community and the world around us. God is at work beyond the walls of the church and this is something we can welcome and join in with. Whether it is a foodbank, a refuge, a community garden – in all these ways we can see the marks of God’s Mission.
The generous grace of God is poured out among us and as followers of Christ we have been called “salt and light”. In a world with so much darkness, our small light and those of others can make a difference. Never tell yourself that the difference is too small. Too much salt in our food may not be great for our health, but a small amount brings flavour. God transforms our lives by his generous grace and when we join in with the work of Jesus we can help to transform the world around us, so that the forgiveness and the compassion of God shines through. We encounter God’s generous grace through the sacraments of the church and are encouraged in turn to be generous in allowing that grace to flow outwards into the world through the way we live.
Can we make it a part of our rule of life to think of how we can make a difference to people’s lives in our community and beyond? I’m sure some of those things are already happening, in which case we can encourage others to be part of it. Let’s discern what God is doing here among us, so that we may move from maintenance to mission.