At the feet of the holy sage – Ben Sira (in the First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 4:12-22), we are presented with the theme of “Wisdom as Educator”. (Here, Wisdom is personified as we see in Proverbs 1:23-25;8:12-21;9:1-6). Her children are those who pursue wisdom and put it into practice (cf. Luke 7:35). Put differently, “Wisdom brings up her own children, and cares for those who seek her…”

This is what we see in today’s Gospel (Mark 9:38-40). Here, Christ (the Wisdom of God) educates us that he also accommodates and cares for those who seek him inasmuch as they are not against him. Put differently, Jesus asks us to be open to those who seem to be different from us. Although, the disciples thought of distinction and difference, Jesus did not tolerate their narrow vision. Jesus sees all who act in his name as having much in common. Let us recall that a similar incident took place centuries earlier when Moses appointed seventy elders, whom God then gave the gift of prophecy. Eldad and Medad were not among the seventy but also prophesied. Joshua called Moses to stop Eldad and Medad, but Moses responded, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all Yahweh’s people were prophets, that Yahweh would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29).

Dear friends in Christ, this message comes in handy in an age religiously fragmented along many lines—denominational, doctrinal, racial, socio-economic, national, liberal/conservative, social-action/evangelical, charismatic/non-charismatic, young/elderly, etc. We are often tempted to regard Christians from the other side of the line as inferior or not belonging to Christ—if at all we think of them as Christians. Christ calls us to put aside petty jealousies and to respect the gifts of those who work in his name. Unfortunately, along the course of time, lots of misunderstandings, quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and members of other denominations/religions; nevertheless, the Church through the sacred synod “urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom” (Nostra Aetate, #3). Bearing in mind that what unites us is greater than what divides us, the document also emphasizes that “we cannot truly call on God, the Father of all if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, colour, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to ‘maintain good fellowship among the nations’ {1 Peter 2:12}, and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,{cf. Rom 12:18} so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.” (Nostra Aetate, #5).

Finally, it is only when the Law of the Lord (our binding factor) is upheld and loved across church groups, denominations, and religions, that our differences and bitterness would be reconciled and settled; thus experiencing great peace; just as the Psalmist puts it: “The lovers of your law have great peace, O Lord…they never stumble. (Psalm 118(119):165,168,171-172,174-175)


©Rev. Fr. Chinaka J. Mbaeri, OSJ


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Chinaka Justin Mbaeri

A staunch Roman Catholic and an Apologist of the Christian faith. More about him here.

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