Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
In Robert Duvall’s movie “The Apostle” an evangelical preacher from Texas observes a Catholic priest in Louisiana blessing a fishing fleet. He does not betray any anger or envy. He merely reaffirms his own mission by saying something like: “They do things their way; and I do things my way.” Jesus shows this same kind of tolerance in the gospel passage today.
The Acts of the Apostles records several incidents of men preaching and trying to exorcize demons in Jesus’ name without authorization from the apostolic community. It probably happened just as frequently then as today when many free-lance preachers tell of Jesus. Like John in the passage we might like to prohibit them from doing so. Such action, however, would not only be censorship taking away the speaker’s right to free expression but also a violation of Jesus’ principle of toleration.
It is perfectly legitimate and even a duty for priests to warn the faithful of imposters who give the impression of speaking for the Church when they preach. But generally when we hear non-Catholic preachers talk of Jesus on television or the radio, we might listen a bit to what they are saying. They probably are not speaking against the Church and quite possibly have insights that may help us better appreciate the Lord.