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Jesus Impersonators

**If anyone gives you a cup of water ...** (Mark 9:41).
Numbers 11:25-29; Psalms 19:8,10,12-14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48

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Sermon Week Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 9:41


The ranks of organized Elvis Presley impersonators continue to enlarge. A recent "Weekend Edition" of National Public Radio revealed that there are some twenty thousand of them in the U.S.A. alone. Of that number, two hundred or more are professional entertainers who have built successful careers doing their "Elvis" impersonations.

In a very real sense, the aim of the New Testament writers is to recognize, recruit and organize Jesus Christ impersonators, all in keeping with the detailed instructions of the Lord Himself. For example, in today's Gospel Lesson, the Apostles are worried about a Jesus impersonator who is trying to help a person in distress. They see him as an impostor, and they report this to Jesus, saying, "Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting our devils in Your Name, and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him." But Jesus says no, "You must not stop him": you must not stop anyone who, in imitation of Me, is performing an act of loving service toward another!

We members of the organized Christian Community, we who are the official Jesus impersonators, need to hear and accept without reservation the Lord's promise to us in today's Gospel Lesson that "If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink ... he will most certainly not lose his reward" (Mk. 9:41).

Because we are who we are -- because we are human beings -- we cannot bear the notion that our lives might go unrewarded. Our human nature is constantly driving us in search of fulfillment. And Jesus is telling us today precisely where the search for a rewarding life begins and ends. The most rewarding experience in life, Jesus tells us, comes in the giving of that drink of water. The act of caring and sharing is life's most fulfilling experience, in terms of getting to know who we are, why we are here, where we are going. Which is to say, our life is at its best -- its happiest -- whenever we perform the act of impersonating Jesus.

The ancient Greek Philosopher, Socrates, [...]

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