Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nobody has exclusive rights to Jesus

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
September 24, 2012

Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48

The scene is surprising. The disciples approach Jesus with a problem. This time the spokesman for the group isn't Peter but John, one of the two brothers who were looking for the top spots. Now he's claiming that the group of disciples has exclusive rights to Jesus and a monopoly on his liberating action.

They're worried. An exorcist, who's not a member of the group, is casting out demons in Jesus' name. The disciples aren't happy that people are being healed and can begin to live a better life. They're just thinking about the prestige of their own group. So they've tried to nip his performance in the bud. This is their only reason: "He's not one of us."

The disciples assume that to act in the name of Jesus and with his healing strength, it's necessary to be a member of his group. No one can appeal to Jesus and work for a better world without being part of the Church. Is this really so? What does Jesus think?

His first words are emphatic: "Do not prevent him." The Name of Jesus and his humanizing force are greater than the small group of disciples. It's good that the salvation Jesus brings extends beyond the established Church and helps people to live a better life. No one should see it as unfair competition.

Jesus breaks all sectarian temptation in his followers. He hasn't formed his group to control his messianic salvation. He isn't a rabbi of a closed school but a prophet of salvation that is open to all. His Church must support his Name wherever it's invoked to do good.

Jesus doesn't want any talk among his followers of us and them, insiders and outsiders, who can act in his name and who can't. His way of seeing things is different: "Whoever is not against us is for us."

In modern society there are many men and women who work for a more just and humane world without belonging to the Church. Some aren't even believers, but they're making way for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. They are one of us. We should rejoice instead of looking at them resentfully. We should support rather than discredit them.

It's wrong to live in the Church seeing hostility and evil everywhere, naively believing that we are the only ones who bear the Spirit of Jesus. He wouldn't approve of us. He would invite us to collaborate joyfully with all who live a gospel lifestyle and care for the poor and needy.

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