Stop Your Ambition to Fence Off The Heaven!

Weekly Missionary Reflection
26th Week in Ordinary Time, 26 September 2021

Num. 11:25-29; Ps. 19:8,10,12-13,14; Jas. 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48

The irony has been sensed from the beginning of the story. In previous story (cf. Mark 9:18) the disciples of Jesus were not able to drive out an evil spirit. Then, an anonymous person could drive out demon in the name of Jesus. Of course the disciples prevented him! Why? That man had no authority to do so, because “he does not follow us”. Focus and attention of the disciples had not been changed: still sticking on power and identity. John and his friends would like to claim that Jesus was only for their group. They wanted to be the sole owner of the copyright and the “right to make miracles”. The purpose is of course to make them important and needed. That is the eternal temptation in religion. There is always a group of people who wants to monopolize the Lord and fence off heaven!

Jesus disagreed. He firmly rejected any intolerance and narrow-minded attitude of His disciples. Why? Because of two reasons. First, the practical reason: whoever performs a good deed in His name will not at the same time speak something bad about him (v. 39). Second, the principal reason: anyone who is “not against us” has to be considered as our supporter and for us. Jesus emphasizes that He is the Lord for all people. His work of Salvation can also be shared by the people outside the Christian community. This positive and inclusive point of view is indeed relevant in our country in diversities. Wherever people are inspired by God to do good, we have to be sure that they have de facto glorified the name of the Lord. All such people should be seen as our comrades in presenting the Lord’s love and essence of the Lord’s teaching!

However, the attitude of welcoming the outsiders should be balanced with the inside awareness. Being inclusive and introspective should be aligned. That is what the Lord emphasizes. The Church must be alert to sins and stumbling blocks within the community. After using the soft and open language, now the Lord’s words turn into: millstone, hell, eternal fire even “mutilation”. The point is: any source of stumbling must be destroyed. Hand and foot are cut off, eyes are poked out, if those members of the body has caused sins. Of course this is only a metaphorical language. No one will be dare to do it literally. These savage sound sayings are aimed to prevent the church from misleading, especially for the new members or those with low faith, they must be firmly prevented. Any words and actions that cause the fellow believers into sin and lose faith is a big scandal, which must be strictly prevented before both (the misleader and the misled) perish in the hell!

Such prevention is not easy, it even hurts. However, it is much better than eternal torment. Jesus invites you and I to keep on practicing and forging ourselves so that the root of sin in ourselves can be totally cleared, so we will not be the stumbling block (scandal) for other fellow believers. For Jesus, taking care of each other’s faith growth is more important than being busy with guarding the right and power of a church institution or arguing about heavenly restrictions.

(Hortensius Mandaru – Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:
Eco-fiendly life style: Let us pray to be encouraged to make brave decision for eco-friendly and simple life style, to rejoice with the young people who are boldly committed to this. We pray …

For Indonesian Churches intention:
Those depressed by economic problems: May those depressed by economic problems be able to find new business that can be a new source of income. We pray …

Special Intention for the year of St. Joseph:
Please direct our life history to as the life history of St. Joseph whom You have guided to unite with his ancestors, as told in the Bible. We pray…

Amen

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