Monday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary time
(Zechariah 8:1-4; Luke 9:46-50)
Once Pope Francis scandalized some Catholics. When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, the future pope, prayed with evangelical Protestants. He even knelt down for their blessing. “How could he do that?” the people asked. “Does he not know that past popes have condemned any kind of collaboration with Protestants?” These people sound like John in today’s gospel.
When John saw a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name, he and the other disciples tried to stop him. Perhaps he was only concerned that the man did not have Jesus’ permission to use his name. It has been suggested, however, that John may have been envious because the disciple’s sometimes have trouble casting out demons themselves. In any case Jesus corrects him. It does not matter to Jesus that someone uses his name to do something good. What is important is that everyone helps the poor and troubled live with dignity.
We might want to ask Jesus if it is necessary tan to be his disciple. In other words, why are we Catholics? Is it just because we have been brought up in the Catholic Church or that now most of our friends are Catholic? These are insufficient motives. No, we are Catholic because we hear Jesus’ words at mass at least every Sunday. More importantly, we are Catholic because we are offered his body and blood at mass. This is no mean gift, of course. It might be compared to the love and the truth that the Church community has demonstrated for two thousand years!