CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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We are given the Spirit but not exclusively

Mark narrates, deliberately and provocatively, two episodes in the same chapter. 

In the first scene a man comes to Jesus and says, “Master, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit, deaf and mute. Whenever the spirit seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes stiff all over. I asked your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not” (Mark 9:18). 

In the second, what is proposed to us in today’s gospel, Mark introduces an anonymous exorcist, using the name of Jesus, gets, instead, optimum result against the forces of evil.

The reaction of the disciples, who run to show Jesus their surprise, disappointment and irritation, was predictable and immediate. They ask: How can one who does not follow us, not belonging to our group, perform the same wonders?

 If someone successfully takes the field where we are called to carry out our mission, does it ask us to rejoice or worry? Who is allowed to use the name of Jesus? To whom did he leave as legacy his Spirit, the power that heals every disease? 

Calling on the names of the healers of ancient time or angels, demons and some characters renowned for their therapeutic powers was in use, during an exorcism in the days of Jesus. They started to call on the name of Jesus along with that of other exorcists, who had become famous throughout Galilee. 

One day John runs to the teacher and tells him that the disciples saw someone cure people resorting to Jesus’ name and he does not follow us.

Note the reason given: he does not follow us. He does not say, He does not follow Jesus, but, He does not follow them, the disciples, revealing that they had a rooted conviction of being the only and indisputable custodians of the good. 

None of us would feel bad if, during the vintage or the harvest, a stranger offered to help out in the vineyard or in the field.

There is instead someone who can be saddened when he learns that a non-believer performs even heroic acts of love of which they are capable, yes, even Christians, but not only them. The reaction is usually the same as that of the apostles. 

He pretends not to see, tries to ignore, minimises; does not rejoice in the good done by others because it costs to admit that there are followers of other religions who work better.

We don’t accept voluntary lessons of honesty, loyalty, non-
violence, hospitality or tolerance from anyone.

The principle suggested by Jesus is clear: “anyone who acts on behalf of man is one of us.” 

The Spirit is not a monopoly of the ecclesiastical structure; it is as free as the wind. The Spirit acts in the Church and outside it.

In our community there are many people who provide service to our brothers and sisters. In general, they carry out their duties with diligence and generosity. 

However, jealousy and envy often appear here and there. They are the sure sign that the assumed duty had ceased to be a service and has become a gimmick to succeed, to carve out a space of power from which anyone proposing changes or offers to cooperate was kept far away, as if he were an intruder. 

So the ministry of the Church is no longer considered the harvest in which we expect the Lord to send the largest possible number of workers (Matthew 9:37-38), but it is a pie to be divided among the contenders.

Father Fernando Armellini CMF 
Claretian Publications