First Reading: Numbers 11:25-29
The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied. Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; yet the spirit came to rest on them also, and they prophesied in the camp. So, when a young man quickly told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, " Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’aide, said, "Moses, my lord, stop them." But Moses answered him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart. The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just. Though your servant is careful of them, very diligent in keeping them, Yet who can detect failings? Cleanse me from my unknown faults! From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant; let it not rule over me. Then shall I be blameless and innocent of serious sin.
Second Reading: James 5:1-6
Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.
Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"
Think about the last time you had a heart-to-heart with God. Was it last night, before you fell asleep? This morning, just as you opened your eyes? Last week in the doctor’s office? What did you ask Him? The prayers that shape a woman’s relationship with Jesus often look a lot like her to-do list.
“Please, God, I need at least an 80 on this test.”
“Sweet Jesus, help him ace that job interview.”
“God, could you send me a check before you send the next bill?”
“Jesus, remember when you were a little boy? We really need a bigger yard.”
Sometimes, I think I confuse God with a financial planner, a realtor, and a college professor. I fall into the pattern of praying that is common in the land of plenty, fervently begging for the wrong things and overlooking the things that really matter to our Lord.
He cares about my sin.
He cares about the things that stand between Him and me and an eternity in Heaven. If you are reading this devotion, you are living in relative luxury. You are! Even as you struggle to make ends meet. You are good with re-inventing rice and beans a dozen ways to Sunday. You know every thrift store in a twenty-mile radius. Still, money isn’t your greatest need.
God wants us to be rich in holiness. He wants us to cry out to Him for His justice and righteousness and nearness. He wants us to long for Him more than we long for a better job or a bigger backyard. More than anything, He wants us to move away from sin and close to Him.
For a moment, imagine losing a hand or a foot. It’s a painful thought, isn’t it? Now, imagine a child—your child—losing a hand or foot. Unbearable, no?
God says sin is worse than losing a hand, a foot, or an eye. Further, He warns us not to lead children into sin. The children in our lives look to us to understand what matters most. What do they see? Do they see us striving to store up treasure here?
Our Lord cares about our to-do lists. He cares about the grocery list, the balance sheet, the syllabus. And He really wants us to take all of those things to Him. Every need, every care, every concern matters to God. When we go, though, let’s let our first petition be that we face all of these things with humble, contrite hearts. When we go, let us ask Him first to make us holy.
Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here.