Reflections - September 27, 2015

“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.  Jesus replied, Do not prevent him…..For whoever is not against us is for us.”  Mk. 9:38-40.
 
This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with two attitudes very common when we interact with our neighbor.
 
The first attitude is to exclude the other mentioned by John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him”.
 
The second attitude is like Jesus’s attitude:  “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against us is for us”.
 
The question would be:  Why do these attitudes come about of excluding others even in our Christian relationships?  Why do we have such attitudes of believing we are the judges of others?
 
I remember years ago a young man came to work in our parish and another parishioner, who had spent years working in the parish, told me:  “I don’t know how that young man came here to help because I knew him from many years ago…..”.  The only response that came to mind was:  “Did you also know his heart?  What do you know about what has happened in his soul?  Who put you as your brother’s judge?
 
There are people who feel entitled to judge others.  There are those who don’t like a “pretty face in an unfamiliar appearance”.  And what is worst is that they hide their jealousies and intolerances excluding and refuting others.
 
Jesus’ NO is compelling:  “Do not prevent him”.
 
Today we could ask ourselves when receiving the Eucharist:  “Do I act with purity of intent when I judge others?  Do I welcome all who come to the parish for the first time?
 
Pope Francis says a phrase that I want to share with you:
“Sometimes there are attitudes in the Church where some people believe that they have definitively reached Christ.  These people feel secure in themselves and contempt towards others and they believe that they are the only ones faithful and committed to the liberation of man.  That spirit of self-sufficiency is born of the evil spirit, the father of lies……which leads to divisions, tensions…..”.  On the other hand the constant effort for harmony and unity is a NO to evil and exclusion and a YES to inclusion and unity in Christ and to the construction of His Kingdom.