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Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

There is a peculiar type of pettiness that will not allow someone to do what others do (even if ‑ or perhaps especially if ‑ they are good at it) because they aren't part of the group, or club, or circle. Unless you wear the uniform, the badge or tie, you can't share in the work. When this is applied to doing good or following the Lord, it seems even more petty than ever: if someone does a good thing, does it matter that she or he is not a Catholic? The words of the Lord, “Anyone who is not against us is for us,” should be taken to heart this Sunday. Let us recognise anyone who helps the poor, serves peace and justice, does what the Lord Jesus wants as our co‑worker, whatever the ‘label’ they work under.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Numbers 11:25‑29.

We delve into the Old Testament for another example of the small‑mindedness we find in the Gospel today: here a couple called Eldad and Medad are caught proph­esying in the camp, despite the fact that they were not there “when the spirit came down”. A quick read through will lead us to imag­ine the indignation of the young man and of Joshua when they tell Moses ‑ they are almost like little children ‘telling teacher’! It is important that people grasp the context of this reading, which is given in the first paragraph: here is described the Spirit coming down on the seventy, so that they can prophesy. Also emphasise that Eldad and Medad are elsewhere when this hap­pens. The next section, where the youth and Joshua complain to Moses is very easy to read ‑ put a little colour into you voice when you read their indignant statements to Moses. All this is a prelude to the important part of the reading, where Moses (like Jesus in the Gospel) rebukes this small ­mindedness – “If only…” are wonderful words, expressing Moses’ desire that all could share in the gift of prophecy. Let your voice rise in tone and enthusiasm at the end. Then pause a second before “This is the Word of the Lord.”


Second Reading: James 5:1-6

Saint James has been ‘firing from the hip’ for the last few weeks, but here he really lets himself go! This is a brilliant piece of rhetoric, where we can clearly see the man who passionately believes in justice pouring out his detestation of those who cheat their workers and see life as a chance to make money. It starts with wonderful abruptness: “An answer for the rich. Start crying.” As a reader, you simply cannot allow this to be read in a bland or flat tone: that would not be faithful to the passion of James’s words. The same goes for the whole reading. These words demand passion in the reading ‑ the same passion that was in their writing. This reading is definitely one to practice out loud, so that you can get all the emphasis the author has put into these stirring words.