Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Working Toward a Common Goal
Num 11:25-29/ Jas 5:1-6 / Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
“…we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” In today’s Gospel, the disciples see a man driving out demons in the name of Jesus, and they ask him to stop because he isn’t “one of them.” First of all, there is jealousy and rivalry in this comment. As we read last week, there is no room for those traits in the heart of a true disciple. Secondly, they said “he does not follow us.” The pronoun us (rather than you) indicates that in some ways, they have elevated themselves to being equal to Jesus. Clearly, they are still struggling with the lesson of “the first shall be last.” Jesus settles this by stating that the man should be allowed to continue his work, and that if he isn’t against us, then he is for us. Here is an important lesson for you and I! How often do we grow self-righteous in our own piety or our own faith and come to the conclusion that our own discipleship is stronger than another person’s? Our goal is unification with all those who are “not against us,” regardless of status or denomination. Missionary discipleship gains momentum when we realize we are all working toward a common goal!