FOR HE THAT IS NOT AGAINST US IS FOR US
(A biblical reflection on the 26th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [Year B] – 26 September 2021)
Gospel Reading: Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
First Reading: Numbers 11:25-29; Psalms: Psalm 19:8,10,12-14; Second Reading: James 5:1-6
The Scripture Text
John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.(Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48 RSV)
The apostles had been debating about who was the greatest when they came upon a man casting out demons in the name of Jesus. Immediately they rebuked the man who “was not following us” (Mark 9:38). Isn’t it interesting that they were more concerned about this man Jesus was? After all, if the fellow was using Jesus’ name but wasn’t following Jesus, there was no guarantee that he was accurately representing Jesus at all!
This is what’s so amazing about Jesus. His desire is simply that everyone receive Him and live in the power of His life. He isn’t concerned about establishing an exclusive club, but about gathering a diverse group of people together and building them into one body that would rejoice in the grace and freedom of the Father.
Moses met with a way of thinking similar to the apostles’. One day as he gathered a group of men whom he had chosen to be elders in Israel, the Spirit of God fell upon them, and they began to prophecy. At the same time, two men who were not with Moses received the Spirit and prophesied as well. Joshua demanded that they be stopped, but Moses replied, “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets” (Numbers 11:29). Again, we see God’s simple desire to touch everyone.
Today, let’s bring our hearts to the Lord and ask Him to free us from any sense of pride or divisiveness against our sisters and brothers in Christ. Let us now ask Jesus to fill us with a deep appreciation that His Church is filled with so many diverse people and so many different gifts of the Spirit. God is not limited in His generosity in any way. To some He gives the grace to intercede, while to others He gives a heart to reach out to the poor and needy. Many pursue the study of Scripture, while others have a gift of healing or discernment. So many differences exist, but one unified truth runs through them all: We are on body built on the tender mercy and love of Christ. And we can stand together to worship the Lord.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, come and deliver me from anything that blocks the unity that You desire for Your entire Church. By the power of Jesus’ cross, break down all dividing walls in the body of Christ so that the world may believe! Amen.HisHis
Jakarta, 25 September 2021
A Christian Pilgrim