Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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  Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

“Not one of us …”

In today’s Gospel we hear of the apostles coming across someone doing good works in the name of Jesus and seeking to stop him because “he is not one of us”. Instead of confirming them in this attitude Jesus rebukes them and explains that “anyone who is not against us is for us”. The reach of God’s grace is not restricted to an exclusive circle. Jesus has come to proclaim that the presence of God’s love is everywhere, with everyone. His mission presupposes that God is already at work with his Spirit in the world. He proclaims that the kingdom of God is at hand, that the reign of God’s love is here, “within you”, and he appeals to people of every description to recognise that love, to accept it and respond to it in their lives.

In the course of his ministry Jesus reached out constantly to “outsiders” – people who were generally regarded as unclean, unworthy, alien, untouchable – encouraging their openness to God’s love, and assuring them that “your faith has saved you”. In his teaching, for example in the parable of the Good Samaritan, he was clear that “doing good” is not the preserve of a chosen few. So, today, he tells us that “anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink”, anyone who ‘gives life’, will be rewarded. The kingdom of God’s love extends among people everywhere, among all people who are open to the Spirit who breathes when and where he wills. There are no boundaries restricting the grace and love of God.

The followers of Jesus Christ, then, do not claim any sort of monopoly over God’s gifts or of rendering service in his name. But they do accept a responsibility – that of sharing in the mission of Christ himself – to proclaim and make known God’s universal love and to be for the whole world the living sign of that love by lives lived in love.