Be tolerant but intransigent
1. At that time, 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.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”‘(Mk9:38-43, 45, 47-48). Taken from today’s Sunday gospel.
2. Today’s gospel pericope raises a critical question concerning our sectarianism. If Jesus were to visit a town this weekend, which church will he go to on Sunday? His reaction to the disciples who told him that they tried to stop someone who was casting out demons with his name because he does not belong to their group shows that many of today’s church men are getting it wrong. Jesus had to teach his followers that those who use his name to truly do mighty deeds are not against him. They belong to him too. Such people should not be opposed. They should rather be supported because”whoever gives a cup of water to you because you belong to me will never lose the reward.”
3. But must we always listen to any one who does miracles and speaks in the name of Jesus? This brings us to the recommendation of intransigency. In as much as Jesus encourages his followers to be open minded, he equally invites them to be uncompromising with error. Any person who, speaking in the name of Jesus, tries to exploit, manipulate or even scandalize the believer must be resisted and refused. Jesus recommends that it will be better for such a person to be thrown into the sea with a big stone tied to his neck than to wine and dine with such person in the name of being tolerant.
4. Jesus went further to say that one must be intransigent not only with sinners but also and especially with oneself. There should be no partnership with evil. He spoke of cutting off your hand or you leg if it leads you to sin. He even suggested that one plucks off one’s eye if it leads one to sin. This sounds violent but it is a clear way of saying that conditions that could lead to sin must be avoided even if such avoidance leads to pains and violence.
5. It might not be easy for one to, for example, cut off an adulterous relationship that has a financial and material advantages attached to it. It might not be easy to do away with corrupt practices that have made and continue to make one have access to unmerited funds. It might be difficult to give up an illicit business that brings millons of cash with less labour. But one should know that not giving up these conditions will go with some consequences. The greatest consequence will be, according to today’s gospel, to spend eternity in the fire that never quenches, with worms that never die.
6. You certainly have your prejudices and preferences when it comes to religious sensitivity. Whatever be your stand, do not forget that all who truly follow Jesus are brothers and sisters. Be tolerant with the diversity of their opinions about God. You must also be intransigent with those who hide behind the word of God to exploit, scandalize and mislead others. Have nothing to do with them. Above all, you must be intransigent with your own weaknesses. Anything, person or place that would make you to lose your friendship with Jesus must be cut off. Bear the pain and endure the violence because when you end up with Jesus you will be completely healed. @ Vita, 26/09/21.