Mk 9:38-40 Do Not Prevent Him
“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not have lived in vain. If I can ease one life from aching, I shall not have lived in vain.” (Emily Dickenson)
The Apostles were gravely mistaken for preventing this man to speak in the Lord’s name. A door had been opened for them and they shut the door tight! How foolish! Being an Apostle may be a vocation, a privilege and not a right. But being a Christian is a God given right open to all men and women of good will. It is there for the taking and receiving. It is as clear as the night and as bright as the sun. It gathers. Jesus invites his Apostles to take advantage of whatever binds the Kingdom together. “Do not prevent him. For whoever is not against us is for us.”
What does it take to be good? The question was already asked and documented over two thousand years ago. A rich young man asked Jesus, “Master, what good must I do?” The Lord replied, “Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself.” Sounds simple but we all know it’s not. Great faith, hope and love are required. Humility too is required, especially when we fail, which brings us to the need for forgiveness and opens the door to the Sacrament of Reconciliation: the need for a Savior and the need for His Church. Thus my eyes and the eyes of others are opened not so much by what I do, but what the Lord has done for me. This is the door - the gate - that remains open for all to enter.
This man admired the Lord. How do we know when we admire someone? My answer would be when we begin to imitate them; when we have this tremendous desire to be more like them. In today’s Gospel we read of someone wanting to be like the Lord, attempting to drive out demons in his name. This individual is forced to stop by Christ’s apostles because he is not one of them. But this unknown Christian has accepted the Lord. He knows the Lord, and because he knows Him, he loves Him and because he loves Him, he wishes to imitate Him. He is a Christian in the truest sense of the word: One who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and lives it. Words are meaningful only if they are objective and not subjective. It is much more reasonable to call a baptized Christian who does not act like a Christian a bad Christian rather than not a Christian at all. This is a door - a gate – that swings back and forth.
Doing good is what we are all called to do. It is universal. Great peace have they who love your law, O Lord (Ps. 119:165a). Do good and avoid evil is a universal law written in the hearts of all men, regardless of the era and religious affiliation. The sticky point is in the meaning of the word good. What does it mean to be good or to do good? For the Lord, doing good actually means becoming more like Him. It means purification, conversion and imitation. It does not mean to look good or to feel good. It is not something that comes from the depths of our heart but from the heart of Christ. It means allowing the Lord to repair my heart so that I can imitate His heart. Two hearts beating as one.
If we imitate the Lord, it means we have come to the full realization of who He is. It is not partial or selective, it is total. It is all or nothing. I cannot love someone I do not know. And if I love Him, then it means I cannot live without Him. My life is a reflection of Him, created in his image and likeness. For this reason he invites us all to imitate him: to knock on the door, to be the door, and to be the doorkeeper for he says, “I am the Gate, who ever enters through me will be saved.” (Jn 10:9)