Wednesday of Week 7 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Mark 9:38-40

There is another lesson for all of us in today’s brief passage.  The disciples complain to Jesus because they saw someone casting out devils in Jesus’ name.  They tried to stop him:

…because he was not following us.

Jesus tells them very clearly that they should:

…not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.

This is a principle we need to take seriously to heart. There can be a strong temptation among us to a kind of exclusivity.  Many Christian groups (both Catholic and people from other denominations) can fall into this trap.  As Paul tells us in one of his letters:

…the word of God is not chained. (2 Tim 2:9)

God can do his work through all kinds of people – Christians and people of other religions and of no religion.  He may even work at times through people who are ostensibly anti-religious.  Far from being resentful of others doing work which we feel belongs only to Christians, we should be overjoyed.  This is a clear sign of the Kingdom at work.  Wherever there is love, wherever there is service, there is God.

Membership in our group is not the test.  The test is whether what others do fits in with our goals of truth, love, justice, compassion, freedom, peace, non-violence and so on.   Our God is to be found in all these things.  The Church is a way to a further goal; it is not itself the end.  The Church is called to be a sign of the Kingdom, but is not the totality of the Kingdom. The goal is the Kingdom and the Church is working – and not exclusively – for the realisation of the Kingdom.

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