The Power of His name

Mark 9: 38-40
Sir 4:11-19 / Psa 119

Whoever is not against us is for us.
(Mark 9:40)

We all have a special grace
That the Holy Spirit gives for free;
Guides us in the time and place
That Jesus gives for our ministry.

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Jesus replied, “Do not stop him. For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me. Whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38-40)

Reflection

John must have earned the special privilege of being “the most beloved” among the closest circle of Jesus’ disciples because of his zealous devotion to the Lord. But this also made him jealous of other people exercising the authority or power delegated by his Master to His chosen leaders. Jesus had to remind him that since the exorcist was driving out demons in His name, then he also belonged to His flock, and was in fact doing the Father’s will by conquering evil with good in His name.

Today’s Gospel passage shows the efficacy of faith when applied in the power of the Holy Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The “outsider” that John complained about must have seen the work of one or some of the seventy-two disciples that Jesus sent out (Lk.10:1,17), who came back rejoicing, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” He saw and heard, and believed. Like the Roman centurion who believed in the power of Jesus’ word and saw his servant healed, God also rewarded the exorcist’s faith by making him cast out demons in His Son’s Name.

This Gospel reading also makes us reflect on how easily we make wrong judgments about the motives of others who do not belong to our church, community or religion. This reminds me of the time our community was opening an outreach in Southern Cotabato. For many years our mission director and his team tried to get the blessing of the bishop. But the good prelate would not even assign a priest to join our fellowships, much less favor us with the celebration of the holy mass, unless our community submitted to the jurisdiction of his diocese. Our leaders tried to explain to the bishop that we have our own charter, recognized and endorsed by the Church hierarchy, and our organization was in fact committed to serve the Catholic faith, encouraging our members to receive the sacraments regularly, and support their parish financially. It was to no avail. Submission to authority is one of the tenets of our organization, so it took a lot of discernment to proceed or not in opening that outreach in South Cotabato without the bishop’s support. Finally, we decided to go ahead with our plans, because we were submitting to a higher authority, that of the Holy Spirit, and we were opening the outreach there in Jesus’ Name. The outreach will soon be chartered as a new chapter next month, we thank the Lord.

Short though today’s Gospel passage may be, it exhorts us to give our best efforts to live in harmony with all men, regardless of our religious affiliations. This was the prayer of our Lord Jesus before His death when He prayed, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (Jn.17:11).

All the good that we do, Lord God, we believe we do not do on our own, but in accordance with Your will, and by the power of our Lord Jesus’ Name. We therefore praise and thank You for the privilege of serving You and the Gospel, and may the Holy Spirit guide us always in our ministry, and strive to be one with all men. Amen.

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