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Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time — 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 that his son has a deaf and mute spirit which his disciples could not cast out. 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 disciples were surprised, disappointed and even irritated. They ask: how can one who does not follow us, not belonging to our group, perform the same wonders or realise it even more?
 
If someone does the same ministry as we do, does it make us 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? The episode in today’s passage answers these questions.
 
In ancient times it was a practice to call names of the healers or angels, demons and some characters renowned for their therapeutic powers. They started to call the name of Jesus along with that of other exorcists, who has become famous throughout Galilee. 
 
One day John runs to the teacher and tells him: We have found that there is around “our dangerous rival;” he cures people resorting to your name and we have warned him, because he is not one of us, “he does not follow us,” and has not our authorization.
 
Note the reason given: he does not follow us. He does not say that “he does not follow Jesus,” but that “he does not follow them, the disciples,” revealing thus that they had a rooted conviction of being the only and indisputable custodians of the good. Jesus belonged only to them; they were the point of reference required for anyone who wants to invoke his name. They felt annoyed that someone was to carry out miracles without belonging to their group.
 
None of us should feel bad if, during the vintage or the harvest, a stranger offered to help out in the vineyard or in the field. It would be ridiculous and petty to regret because the aide works harder and better than us.
 
Instead if one is saddened when he learns that a non-believer performs even heroic acts of love of which they are capable, the reaction is usually the same as 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 better than us. We don’t accept voluntary lessons of honesty, loyalty, non-violence, hospitality, and tolerance from anyone.
 
The discriminating 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.
 
 
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ 
Claretian Publications
     https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/26th-sunday-in-ordinary-time-year-b-september-30-2018/
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF