Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your ravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, "God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
As a man of wisdom, Jesus reprimanded his disciples for their envy and fear. Feeling threatened, or at least slighted, by some villager who went about using the name of Jesus to expel demons, they said indignantly to Jesus, “We tried to stop him, because he is not of our company!” But his reply was decisive, based on his unique wisdom. He did not inquire about the doctrinal position of the other man but landed on solid, common sense ground. “No one can perform a miracle in my name and at the same time speak ill of me. Anyone who is not against us is with us.” Such a response, totally free of envy and fear, totally relaxed with nothing to lose, is not easily learned, but is the fruit of wise reflection. It marks a person who is at peace, and therefore secure enough to allow others also to be free.
This is seen more clearly by turning to the Epistle of James whose central injunction advises against arrogance, pretentious claims and selfish hoarding of resources. Such a life can easily fall apart, “You have no idea what kind of life will be yours tomorrow.” The truly wise person is rooted in genuine values, not like persons in search of easy profit who quickly move off somewhere else. If we walk life's path with wisdom, we become relaxed, generous and trustful, and walk along that path with Jesus.
In Mark's gospel we often find a clash between Jesus and his disciples. Today's gospel is one example of that. The disciples had a somewhat black and white view of people. Only those who were “one of us,” as they put it, could be trusted to do the Lord's work. Jesus had a much more nuanced view of people than his disciples. He could see that even those whom he had not formally called to become one of his disciples could be doing God's life-giving work. Indeed, he makes the very generous spirited statement, “Anyone who is not against us is for us.” That might be a good principle to take to heart in the times in which we live. There are a lot of people who are not explicitly for the church, in the sense of practising their faith in the way we have come to understand that, and, yet, they are not against the church either. The spirit of today's gospel is that we work to build bridges with all those who in some way share the church's mission to bring life where there is death, wholeness where there is brokenness, relief where there is suffering. We can be partners in mission with those who are “not one of us” in the strict sense. In these times we need the vision Jesus displays in today's gospel rather than that displayed by his disciples. [MH]
Hildebrand of Sovana (c. 1015-1085 AD), was pope from 1073 to his death in 1085. One of the great reforming popes, he is best known for the part he played in the Investiture controversy, his dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, that affirmed the primacy of papal authority and the canon law governing the election of the pope by the college of cardinals.
Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi (1566-1607) was a 16th century Italian mystic. Against her father's wishes, she opted for a contemplative life and chose the Carmelite Monastery of St. Mary of the Angels in Florence because the rule there allowed her to receive Holy Communion daily.