The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
September 30, 2018 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 9:38-43 ,45, 47-48
When Jesus wanted to make a point that is quite basic, he often talked about water. Water is necessary for life. Most of our body is water. Most of what we eat and drink is water. We can go for days without food, but we can hardly survive for a day or two without water. Humans over the years have lived near sources of clean water because without water, they would not survive. When Jesus wanted to describe God’s gift of eternal life, he spoke of “living waters” which are given to us by God’s Spirit. When Jesus died on the cross, the gospels note that blood and water flowed from him. Scripture scholars suggest that this relates to the sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. So, whenever water is mentioned in the gospels, it’s important to pay attention. Important matters are being presented to us.
Parents all have heard a child’s call for a drink of water during the night. While an initial response might be a call to the child to “get it yourself,” good parents know that this request for water is not just for a drink, but for the reassurance that comes from the parent’s immediate presence during the dark of night. They want water, but even more they want mom or dad. They want their water served with love.
Today’s gospel presents a dilemma that faced the disciples of Jesus. They had joined Jesus to be part of his group, his band of disciples who were called upon to assist Jesus in his public ministry. They formed a new “we” and saw themselves as distinct from others who were not in their club.
A question apparently arose when they saw others, groups, not in their circle, who also claimed to be part of Christ’s operation. They were doing good things, but according to the disciples, they were “outsiders.” Jesus seemed not bothered by this. If they were doing good, let them continue. They are doing what is part of God’s intent for all of us. They are serving the needs of those who need their help. So, be careful about judging the good done by others. It’s not about who is doing what. It is about what’s being done. Goodness and Godness is not restricted to one person or to one group. We are all sisters and brothers in the Lord.
This can be of importance to families that might be divided by group allegiance or religious affiliation. Again, if anyone does good, which may only mean the giving of a drink of water to a little one, let it be. In fact, let that be celebrated and acknowledged as an important part of what God desires from all of us.
©David M. Thomas, PhD