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We Cannot Be Neutral

...I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Sermon Topic Commitment

Sermon Week Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 9:41


In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus says to His disciples "Anyone who is not against us is for us" (Mark 9:40).

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 against me." He then spelled it out in terms of what he called a Basin Theology: "In the story of Jesus' Passion, 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."

"Anyone who is not against us is for us" (Mk. 9:40). In another place, 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 are meant to deliver the same message: when it comes down to the bare bones truth about our relationship with Christ, the Gospel admits of no neutrality. Unlike membership in ordinary man-made institutions, any notion of inactive Church-members or passive Church-members or indifferent 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; there is a point where the commitment either gives way to other commitments or it 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 respects from all others. And that is the society we call Church. The Church is different.

First, the scope of the commitment implied in active Church membership is limitless, that is, it embraces the whole of its members' lives. The duties and responsibilities of its members are not limited to a few specific activities or a [...]

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