"For Whoever is Not Against Us is For Us"

09-26-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

The Gospel today is full of mesianic teachings on sundry issues. We are informed at the beginning of the Gospel that John, Jesus’ most beloved disciple, came to Jesus to report that while carrying out their apostolic mandate, the apostles found someone driving out demons in Jesus’ name and they stopped him because he (the exorcist) was not one of the apostles. John might have expected to be applauded by Jesus for ensuring a purist integrity of the apostolic college, but Jesus asked him not to prevent the man. The jealousy and intolerance exhibited by the apostles mirrors the attitude of Joshua, son of Nun, the designated successor of Moses. Joshua asked Moses to prevent Eldad and Medad from prophesying in the camp after failing to show up at the tent where the Holy Spirit rested on the seventy elders when Moses met with them. Their names were on the list of appointed elders, but for whatever reason, they did not make it to the tent, yet received the Holy Spirit and so prophesied in the camp, an indication that they were also enabled by God. Moses responded by rebuking the jealousy in Joshua and by affirming the universality of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus’ response to John was consistent with the views of Moses.

Like John in the Gospel and Joshua in the First Reading, we may fi nd ourselves unnecessarily worried and even concerned about diversity of persons and opinions. It is natural and right to see the Church as “ours,” but it is not charitable to arrogantly assume exclusive “ownership” of Christ, His Church, and any ministry or spiritual gifts gratuitously bestowed on her by Christ. Spiritual gifts are not the exclusive preserve of any one person or group within the mystical body of Christ. God is at liberty to give His gifts to anyone He wants, sometimes even to surprisingly very “unlikely” people. We have the responsibility of accepting every human person as a child of God, respecting their opinions and gifts as long as such opinions and gifts are consistent with the revealed Word of God.

Next, Jesus promised great rewards for those who would encourage, even in the most seemingly insignificant ways, the spread of the Gospel through their generosity. He also threatened consequences for bad examples and scandal. The Gospel reminds us not only to see the Church as an inclusive assembly of God’s children, but to also support through our generosity the spread of the Gospel and to avoid constituting negative influence on others, especially those with fragile faith.

Let us pray that by our acceptance and love of all, we may become true and fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ.