We hear in today’s Gospel reading (Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48) Jesus telling his disciples that “whoever is not against us is for us.” This takes us back to the first reading (NM 11: 25-29) where Joshua calls out to Moses and urges him to stop others from prophesying in the camp. In both instances people were following Jesus as good disciples and there was a protest which came from someone close to Jesus. In the first reading, Moses identifies the issue boldly as jealousy. It is comforting to see not much has changed between the time of Moses, Jesus and present day.
When we are devoted to a particular cause we can easily get caught in the mindset thinking how we do things is the right way and no effort on anyone elses part is at all adequate. This mindset, often running rampant in volunteer organizations, can be lethal. Sadly, our churches are not exempt from this way of thinking, from this way of existing each day.
None of us should have pet ministries, or exhibit control over any ministry in the church. We certainly don’t corner the market on ways to perform our ministry and just because someone doesn’t do things the same as we do them certainly does not mean it is wrong. Sadly, this chases people away from active participation in the church, the one thing we don’t want to do.
Instead, we need to embrace others, as Jesus did and still does through us; when we are open to having His love work through us. It also helps if we let go of the control we have over the way things are done and simply rejoice in the efforts made by others. When we volunteer for the church or other non-profit organization, we need to see that the community, in fact everything, belongs totally to the all-loving God who embraces everyone.
Why should we be any different in our behavior?