Lectio Divina: Mark 9:38-40
1) Opening prayer
keep before us the wisdom and love
You have revealed in Your Son.
Help us to be like Him
in word and deed,
for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 9:38-40
John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us."
• Today’s Gospel narrates quite a beautiful and actual example of the pedagogy of Jesus. It shows us how He helped His disciples to perceive and to overcome the “yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod”.
• Mk 9:38-40: A closed mentality: He was not one of ours” Someone who did not belong to the community used the name of Jesus to drive out devils. John, the disciple, sees this and forbids it: We have stopped him because he was not one of us. In the name of the community he forbids that the other one can do a good deed! He thinks that being a disciple, he can have a monopoly on Jesus, and because of this, he wants to forbid that others use the name of Jesus to do good. This was the closed mentality of the “chosen People, a separated People!” Jesus responds: “You must not stop him; no one who works a miracle in my name could soon afterwards speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.” (Mk 9:40). It would be very difficult to find a more ecumenical affirmation than this affirmation of Jesus. For Jesus, what is important is not if the person forms part of the community or not, but rather if the person does the good which the community should do.
• A picture of Jesus, formator of His disciples. Jesus, the Master, is the axis, the center, and the model of formation given to the disciples. By His attitudes He is an example of the Kingdom. He embodies the love of God and reveals it (Mk 6:31; Mt 10:30; Lk 15:11-32). Many small gestures show this witness of life with which Jesus marked His presence in the life of the disciples, preparing them for life and for their mission. This was His way of giving a human form to the experience which He had of God, the Father. The following is a picture of Jesus, the formator of His disciples:
- He involves them in the mission (Mk 6:7; Lk 9:1-2; 10:1),
- when they return He reviews with them all that they have lived (Lk 10:17-20)
- He corrects them when they fail and want to be the first ones (Mk 9:33-35; 10:14-15
- He waits for the opportune moment to correct them (Lk 9:46-48; Mk 10:14-15)
- He helps them to discern (Mk 9:18-19)
- He challenges them when they are slow (Mk 4:13; 8:14-21)
- He prepares them to face the conflict (Jn 16:33; Mt 10:17-25)
- He orders them to observe reality (Mk 8:27-29; Jn 4:35; Mt 16:1-3)
- He reflects with them on questions of the moment (Lk 13:1-5)
- He confronts them with the needs of the people (Jn 6:5)
- He teaches them that the needs of the people are above the ritual prescriptions (Mt12:7-12)
- He meets alone with them so as to be able to instruct them (Mk 4:34; 7:17; 9:30-31; 10:10; 13:3)
- He knows how to listen even if the dialogue is difficult (Jn 4:7-42)
- He helps them to accept themselves (Lk 22:32)
- He is demanding and asks them to leave everything out of love for Him (Mk 10:17-31)
- He is severe concerning hypocrisy (Lk 11:37-53)
- He asks more questions than gives responses (Mk 8:17-21)
- He is firm and does not allow himself to deviate from the right path (Mk 8:33; Lk 9:54)
- He prepares them for conflict and persecution (Mt 10:16-25).
• Formation was not, in the first place, the transmission of truths to be remembered, but the communication of the new experience of God and the life which radiates from Jesus for the disciples. The community which was forming around Jesus was the expression of this new experience. Formation led people to have a different way of looking, to have different attitudes. It gave them a new conscience concerning the mission and concerning themselves. It helped them to place themselves at the side of the excluded. And soon afterwards, it produced “conversion” as a consequence of the acceptance of the Good News (Mk 1:15).
4) Personal questions
• “Anyone who is not against us is for us.” How do we define “for us” and “against us” today with so many variations in Christian beliefs?
• If someone selectively and creatively creates their own “doctrine” and interpretations of Jesus’ teachings, are they “for us” or “against us”?
• How does my formation in Jesus take place in my life? Is it a serious, ongoing process, or whatever comes along?
• Go back to the list of how Jesus does formation. Read each, adding the question “how does He do this for me personally?” at the end of each line. Then answer each for your own formation.
5) Concluding Prayer
Bless Yahweh, my soul,
from the depths of my being, His holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul,
never forget all His acts of kindness. (Ps 103:1-2)