JESUS IS GOOD
26th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The Gospel reading of this Sunday brings us the deepening of Jesus' teaching the disciples the meaning of: "open your mind and follow me." For example, their affirmation "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he does not follow us." That is, when John and the others discovered that someone who was not part of their group was also ministering in Jesus' name.
They took offence because this was a direct threat to their exclusive vocation by Jesus…"He who does not follow me..." it reads in the text. Their attitude was clear: " No new applicant need apply, we are in charge here and we are the only team in town." But, this was not Jesus' attitude at all, for he responds: "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me." Mark has Jesus teaching discipleship as to how it relates to the little ones. Therefore, in this regard we are to: "welcome them”, “forbid them not", "do not cause them to stumble". Now the first question is: " what is Jesus saying?" He is teaching his followers that to decide who is included in the Kingdom is not within our authority, or even within our concern! The call as to who is included in Christ's Kingdom belongs to Christ alone. Therefore, the fact that someone does not use our name, does not exclude their inclusion in the Kingdom, but surely discards our contempt. No, if the work is done in the name of Jesus, that is, with his authority and in his power, then not only it is legitimate, but it will also be rewarded when Jesus' kingdom comes in its fullness! This means, clearly, we must receive those whom we would normally reject just because they are not part of our group. These ministers call on the name of Jesus and, therefore, while I do not have to practice their ways - they are not of my group - I must not tear down what they do -- for Jesus decides if they are of his group, not me, just as he decides if I am in his group. The second question is: "what else is Jesus saying?" He is teaching his followers that entering the Kingdom is the main concern and that nothing should prevent us from renouncing everything because of that call. Of course, Jesus is using figurative language here, an exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. Because “The surpassing value of entering the Kingdom of God makes every other good expendable." Here, we have the challenge of seeing what happens to our lives that stands in the way of a complete reception of the message and the practice of the Kingdom that Jesus offers us. So, how do we become part of the Kingdom? We see the Kingdom as the most precious
of all possessions, and we sell all we have in order to get it! Or, as we heard in today's Gospel reading, we willingly lose everything else for the sake of the Kingdom!