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Frenemies?

Anyone who is not against us is for us
Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19:8,10,12-14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48

Sermon Week Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 9:40

The term "Frenemy" is a combination of the words friend and enemy used to describe a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. It may also refer to a person who combines the characteristics of both a friend and an enemy. Frenemy applies to relationships among individuals, groups, or institutions, and unfortunately, the church and its members are no exception.

A pastor was having coffee with a friend when he was asked about his Church membership. "We have eight hundred members," he said. "How many active members?" the friend asked. "All of them," the pastor replied. "Half are working with me, the other half are working against me." He then spelled it out in what he calls a “washbasin theology.”

"In the story of Jesus' Passion,” he says, “Jesus showed the disciples by His example what to do about His Presence in their lives. He called for a basin and proceeded to wash their feet. When Pontius Pilate had to decide what to do about Jesus' Presence in his life, he called for a basin and proceeded to wash his hands of the whole thing."

In today’s Gospel we read, "Anyone who is not against us is for us" (Mk. 9:40). In Matthew, Jesus says, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and He who does not gather with Me scatters" (Mt. 12:30).

Both sayings deliver the same message: when it comes down to the unvarnished truth about our relationship with Christ, the Gospel is never neutral. Unlike membership in ordinary man-made institutions, any notion of inactive Church members, passive Church members, even “Frenemy” Church members is a contradiction.

Whatever the goals of man-made institutions, in the final analysis, they have their limitations. And there are limits to the duties and responsibilities of the individual member; the point at which the commitment either gives way to other obligations or terminates. And even the most enduring commitment to a cause ends at the moment of death. But there is one society -- and only one -- that differs in these two [...]


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