They are friends, not adversaries
Jesus exerted efforts to teach his disciples how to live as he does, at the service of God’s kingdom, making people’s lives more worthy of human beings, more dignified and happy. Yet they end up not understanding the Spirit that fills Jesus, his great love for those most in need, and the motive within that gives direction to his life.
Mark’s account is very enlightening. The disciples inform Jesus about something that has bothered them so much. They have seen someone they do not know driving out demons. This person is acting in Jesus’ name and along the same line: he is dedicated to freeing people from the evil that prevents them from living humanly and in peace. Nevertheless, disciples do not like that person’s liberating work. They do not think of the joy of those who are healed by that man. His action seems to them to be an intrusion that must be cut off.
They let Jesus know of their reaction: We tried to prevent him because he does not follow us. That stranger should not to keep curing people because he is not a member of the group. What concerns them is not the health of the people, but rather their prestige as a group. They claim a monopoly to his saving activity: no one ought to heal in Jesus’ his name if one does not adhere to the group.
Jesus rebukes his disciples’ attitude and places himself in a radically different logical sphere. He sees things differently. What is first and foremost is not the growth of that small group, but rather that God’s salvation reaches every human being, even through people who do not belong to the group: Whoever is not against us is for us. The person who makes Jesus’ healing and liberating power present in the world is for his group.
Jesus rejects the sectarian and excluding posture of his disciples who only think of prestige and growth; he adopts an open and inclusive attitude where what is first is to free human beings from whatever destroys them and makes them miserable. This is the Spirit that must always animate his true followers.
Outside of the Catholic Church there are countless men and women in the world who do good and spend their lives working for a more dignified, just and free humanity. Jesus’ Spirit is alive in them. We have to consider them as friends and allies, never as adversaries. They are not against us, for they are for human beings, as Jesus was.
September 27, 2015
26 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 9, 38-43. 45. 47-48