The Secret to God is this… Expect the Unexpected: September 26, 2021

September 26. 2021                      26th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Wouldn’t it be boring if there was only one kind of tree?

  • Wouldn’t it be boring if there was only one kind of flower?
  • Wouldn’t it be boring if there was only one kind of dog?
  • And yes, wouldn’t it be boring if there was only one kind of person and personality?

In creation God always deals with abundance. This stands in contrast with the way most people think. Most of the time we have a scarcity mentality.

Sunday readings

Our readings for this weekend exemplify that exclusive attitude.

First Reading 

In the first reading from the Book of Numbers we meet two individuals, Eldad and Medad.

  • Prior to this passage, Moses complains to the Lord that he is overwhelmed by the burden of leadership and taking care of all these people in the desert. 
  • So, the Lord tells him to draw up a list of people to help him.
  • The Lord instructs him to tell all of those people, 70 in number, to come outside of the camp to the place where God dwells in the meeting tent. 
  • So, everybody gathers out there and the power and authority of the Lord that had been given to him Moses is shared with all of those people. 
  • However, there are only 68 people present and for some reason Eldad and Medad are not there.
  • A very strange thing happens. 
  • Although they were not present at the assigned spot, the spirit of the Lord comes upon them and they too prophesy.
  • Of course, there’s a bit of jealousy on the part of Joshua.
  • He wants to exclude them and complains to Moses that these men should not be counted among the number because they didn’t do what they were supposed to.
  • However, God in his abundance showers his Spirit upon them nevertheless.


The same kind of thing happens in the gospel for this weekend.

  • Prior to this particular passage Jesus has sent his disciples out with his power and his authority.
  • They preach the good news of the kingdom and heal those who were sick. Things seem to go pretty well until they return.
  • Then John comes up to Jesus and complains that there was somebody who didn’t belong to their inner circle who was using his name to cast out demons and cure the sick. 
  • Jesus’ response is somewhat surprising. 
  • Jesus tells him, “there is no one who can do these mighty deeds in my name and at the same time, speak ill of me.”
  • He goes on to tell him, “anyone who is not against us is with us.”
  • John wants to exclude as many people as he can. 
  • That’s not the case with Jesus.

God in his abundance delights in all of his children. Jesus excludes no one.


Furthermore, both of these stories tell us that God acts in unexpected ways.

  • God delights to work outside of the box of human expectations.
  • Sometimes He uses the most unanticipated and unexpected circumstances and people to do his work.

These Readings tell us several things. 

God includes

First of all, they tell us that God is more interested in inclusion rather than exclusion.

  • His plan includes everybody. God does not wish to exclude anyone.
  • Not only that, but God will work in whatever ways and with whomever  he chooses  in order to fulfill his plan.
  • That’s what happened in the readings for today. 
  • Although Eldad and Medad we’re not in the appointed place, God did not exclude them.
  • The same thing is true in the gospel. 
  • Although Saint John objected, Jesus included those who believe in the power of his name even though they were not members of the company of disciples.

There is room at God’s table for every one of his children.

God chooses the unexpected 

The other thing the readings tell us is that sometimes God chooses the most unexpected people and circumstances to be the channels for his plan.

  • God doesn’t necessarily judge by human standards, but has his own.
  • Sometimes God chooses the most unlikely people to be the bearers of his plan. 

Birth of Christ 

In antiquity shepherds, tax collectors and prostitutes were considered outcast, marginalized members of society.

  • However, think of the people that Jesus chose to surround him.
  • By the standards of the world, they really were insignificant and amounted to very little
  • It’s a bit curious that God would choose shepherds to be the first representatives of humanity to greet Jesus at his birth.
  • Shepherds were outcasts who lived in fields with sheep.
  • They were mostly illiterate, unclean and not to be trusted.
  • However, in God’s eyes they must’ve been special because he chose them to be the heralds of his son’s birth in Bethlehem.

Mary Magdalen

How about choosing a former prostitute to be the one on Easter Sunday morning who would announce the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

  • Yes, that’s what happened.
  • Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to be the one who announced to the apostles and to the whole world that Jesus was alive and had risen from the dead.
  • By human estimation, it is strange that God would entrust this most important message to her.
  • However, that’s exactly what he did.

Openness to all

As we hear the stories of the scripture for this weekend it really reminds us that God includes everybody in his plan.

  • If God includes everybody then each of us should have an openness to all God’s people.
  • Everyone is precious to him.

God excludes no one. Jesus would go so far as to say whoever is not against Him is for Him.

Openness to God’s working

Second of all we are reminded that God’s ways are not necessarily our ways.

  • God can choose to work outside of the box of human expectation.
  • Sometimes he chooses the most unlikely people, like shepherds and prostitutes, to be an integral part of the unfolding of his plan.
  • Other times he chooses situations and events to be the channels of his grace.


The secret with God is this: expect the unexpected.

  • No one has control over God and the unfolding of his plan.
  • That seems obvious in the two scripture readings that we have today.
  • God continues to work in our lives. We need to be attentive and sensitive to the unfolding of his plan.
  • Just as in days of old with Joshua and John, God can burst into our lives in the most unexpected and surprising ways.
  • All that is required of us is that we be ready

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