Gospel and Word of the Day - 22 May 2024
A reading from the Letter of James Jas 4:13-17 Beloved: Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town,...

A reading from the Letter of James
Jas 4:13-17

Come now, you who say,
“Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town,
spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”–
you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.
You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.
Instead you should say,
“If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.”
But now you are boasting in your arrogance.
All such boasting is evil.
So for one who knows the right thing to do
and does not do it, it is a sin.

From the Gospel according to Mark
Mk 9:38-40

John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.”

Jesus’ words reveal a temptation, and offer an exhortation. The temptation is to be “closed off”. The disciples would like to hinder a good deed simply because it is performed by someone who does not belong to their group. They think they have the “exclusive right over Jesus”, and that they are the only ones authorised to work for the Kingdom of God. But this way, they end up feeling that they are privileged and consider others as outsiders, to the extent of becoming hostile towards them. (…) every closure tends in fact to keep us at a distance from those who do not think like we do, and this — we know — is the root of many great evils in history: of absolutism that has often generated dictatorships and of great violence towards those who are different.

But we need to be vigilant about closure in the Church too. Because the devil, who is the divider — this is what the word “devil” means, the one who divides — always insinuates suspicions to divide and exclude people. He tempts by using cunning, and it can happen as with those disciples, who ended up excluding even someone who had cast out the devil himself! Sometimes we too, instead of being humble and open communities, can give the impression of being the “top of the class” and keep others at a distance; instead of trying to walk with everyone, we can show off our “believer’s license”: “I am a believer”, “I am Catholic”, “I belong to this association, to that one”, and the others, poor things, do not. This is a sin. Showing off one’s “believer’s license” to judge and exclude. Let us ask for the grace to overcome the temptation to judge and to categorise, and may God preserve us from the “nest” mentality, that of jealously guarding ourselves in the small group of those who consider themselves good: the priest with his loyal followers, the pastoral workers closed off among themselves so that no one can infiltrate, the movements and associations in their own particular charism, and so on. Closed. All this runs the risk of turning Christian communities into places of separation and not of communion. The Holy Spirit does not want closure; He wants openness, welcoming communities where there is a place for everyone.

And then in the Gospel there is Jesus’ exhortation : instead of judging everything and everyone, let us be attentive to  ourselves! (Angelus, 26 September 2021)


Gospel and Word of the Day - 22 May 2024