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9/30/18 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Damian

In the first reading from Numbers, Joshua complained to Moses that Eldad and Medad prophesized even though they had remained in the camp and had not been among the seventy elders. Moses replied, "Would that all Yahweh's people were prophets and that Yahweh would send his spirit upon them!"

Joshua's thinking was: either you were among the seventy or not. If you were, you could prophesy. If not, you have no such right. Moses breaks this dualistic binary thinking: all the people have the right to prophesy. Would that all the people were prophets!

In the Gospel reading, John complains to Jesus, "Master, we saw someone who drove out demons by calling upon your name, and we tried to forbid him because he does not belong to our group.."

Like Joshua, John thought: to drive out demons, you must be a follower of Jesus; if not, you have no right nor could you drive out demons. Jesus breaks this dualistic binary thinking, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in my name can speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is for us." Jesus chooses a higher level of understanding: whoever is not against him is for him and this person can indeed perform a mighty deed.

Dualistic thinking is either/or, all/nothing thinking. As a spiritual writer said, it "knows by comparison, opposition and differentiation"; it uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, [liberal/conservative], not realizing there be a hundred degrees between the two ends of each spectrum."

Dualistic thinking is helpful in everyday life. We need it: teachers, machine operators and medical doctors are able to do their jobs by using dualistic thinking.

But dualistic thinking does not go far enough. It is unable to break through and process such realities of life "like infinity, mystery, God, grace, suffering, sexuality, death or love." That is why Joshua and John and people like them stumble over the questions they raised. What is needed is non-dualistic thinking or contemplative consciousness, characterized by transcending and including, recognizing that reality is not simply the two ends of a spectrum but the hundred degrees between. Hence, the same spiritual writer says, "See everything, judge little, forgive much." Learn another way of knowing, the contemplative way of looking at reality, the way Moses and Jesus did.


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