NO ONE HAS EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TO JESUS
The scene is surprising. The disciples come up to Jesus with a problem. This time, the spokesperson of the group isn’t Peter, but John, one of the two brothers who seek the top positions. Now he wants the group of disciples to have the sole rights to Jesus and a monopoly on his liberating action.
They’re concerned. An exorcist that’s not a part of the group is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. The disciples aren’t happy that the people get cured and can begin a more human life. They only think about the prestige of their own group. That’s why they’ve tried to nip his action in the bud. This is their only reason: «He’s not one of us».
The disciples take it for granted that, in order to act in Jesus’ name and with his healing power, it’s necessary to be a member of his group. No one can name Jesus and work for a more human world without being a part of the Church. Is that really so? What does Jesus think?
His first words are categorical: «You must not stop him». The name of Jesus and his humanizing power are more important than the small group of his disciples. It’s good that the salvation brought by Jesus extends way beyond the established Church and helps people live more humanly. No one should see it as an unfriendly competition.
Jesus breaks every temptation to sectarianism in his followers. He has not set up his group to control his messianic salvation. He’s not a rabbi of a closed school, but a Prophet of a salvation that’s open to everyone. His Church must support his Name wherever it’s invoked to do good.
Jesus doesn’t want his followers to talk about who’s of them and who’s not, us and them, those who can act in his name and those who can’t. His way of seeing things is different: «Anyone who is not against us is for us».
In today’s society there are many men and women who work for a more just and human world without belonging to the Church. Some aren’t believers, but they are opening up pathways to God’s reign and God’s justice. They’re for us. We need to rejoice instead of looking at them with resentment. We need to support them instead of discrediting them.
It’s wrong to live in the Church and see hostility and evil all around us, believing naively that we alone are bearers of Jesus’ Spirit. He wouldn’t approve of us. He invites us to work together joyfully with all who live more humanly and are concerned about the most poor and needy.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf