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For Or Against?

Anyone who is not against us is for us
Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19:8,10,12-14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43,45,4

Sermon Week Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 9:40

President Calvin Coolidge was well-known for his economy with words -- which is just another way of saying he didn't talk much. Those who knew him would say he never used three words when one would suffice. One Sunday morning, he attended Church without his wife who wasn’t feeling well. When the President returned to the White House, Mrs. Coolidge asked what the sermon was about.

“Sin,” Coolidge answered.

“And what did the preacher have to say about sin?” Mrs. Coolidge inquired.

“He's against it,” her husband replied.

In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus makes a clear distinction to His disciples about those who are on the side of His message and those who are against it. The Apostle John says to Jesus: "Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in Your Name: and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him" (Mk. 9:38). Jesus replies, "You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us" (Mk. 9:39-40). Thus, Jesus resolved the question raised by the Apostles about the man who did not belong to the Christian Community but was successful in casting out the devil. Jesus' expression of tolerance -- "Anyone who is not against us is for us" -- is a warning against arrogance in the Christian Community. God acts as He wills, and the Community must be open to such action!

The goodness that is in this world comes, not from men and women -- not even from their beliefs -- but from God. The author of all goodness is God. We cannot presume to limit God or claim to know the many ways in which He reveals and shares His goodness with people -- whoever they may be and whatever their beliefs.

A pastor was asked about his Church membership. "We have eight hundred members," he said. "How many active members?" the questioner asked. "All of them," the pastor replied. "Half are working with me, and half are working [...]


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