Sunday, September 27, 2015

They're friends, not adversaries

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
September 27, 2015

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

Despite Jesus' efforts to teach them to live like him, at the service of the Kingdom of God, making people's lives more humane, dignified, and happy, the disciples don't quite understand the Spirit that animates him, his great love for the neediest and the deep orientation of his life.

Mark's story is very illuminating. The disciples inform Jesus of a fact that has bothered them a lot. They've seen an unknown person "driving out demons." He's acting "in the name of Jesus" and along the same lines -- he's devoting himself to freeing people from the evil that keeps them from living humanely and in peace. However, the disciples don't like his liberating work. They don't think about the joy of those who are cured by that man. His actions seem to them an intrusion that must be cut short.

They express their reaction to Jesus: "We wanted to prevent him because he isn't one of us." That stranger shouldn't go on healing because he isn't a member of the group. They don't care about people's health but about their group's prestige. They are trying to monopolize Jesus' saving action -- nobody should heal in his name unless they join the group.

Jesus rebukes his disciples' attitude and stands on a radically different logic. He sees things a different way. The first and most important thing isn't the growth of that small group but that God's salvation come to every human being, even through people who don't belong to the group -- "whoever is not against us is for us." Whoever makes Jesus' healing and liberating power present in the world, is for his group.

Jesus rejects the sectarian and exclusionary stance of his disciples who are only thinking about their growth and prestige, and he adopts an open and inclusive attitude where the first thing is to free human beings from that which 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 are doing good and are working for more dignity, fairness, and freedom for humankind. Jesus' Spirit is alive in them. We must see them as friends and allies, never as adversaries. They are not against us since they are for human beings, as Jesus was.

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