An elitist posture can be dangerous in that others are excluded that ought to have access. There are those areas in which there will be limited access. Select positions such as a principal, CEO, or manager. At higher levels of sports, the arts, and civic leadership, there are limited positions available as well. Yet access ought to be granted for the most qualified. Artificial impositions regarding racial, ethnic, gender, or religious litmus tests are to be avoided. Regarding having access to God, worshipping as a community, and spreading his love and word, an elitist approach has no place.
Jesus addresses this concern in today’s Gospel from Mark. The Apostle John approaches Jesus to complain that someone who does not belong to their inner circle of disciples was healing in the name of Jesus. John even shared that they attempted to prevent this person from healing. 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” (Mk 9:39-40).
Jesus shared in words what he modeled in action throughout his life and that is the kingdom of God is open to all those who were willing to receive him and receive the invitation of his Father to enter into relationship. That relationship with him was to then be a spark that lit a fire in those of his followers to reach out to teach, preach, cast out demons, heal, and be present to others in their need in his name. The kingdom of God is not for the select few, not for the frozen chosen, or not to be an elite club. The depth of active participation is only limited by one’s willingness to be engaged in participating in the life of Jesus.
May we hear the message of Jesus’ universal message today. May we strive to work toward seeking that which unifies us more than what divides us. May we embrace his message that “whoever is not against us is for us.” This can be translated outward beyond our tradition as Catholics. There is much we can do together with Christians of other denominations, of people of other faith traditions, and of no tradition or belief in faith at all.
There are many who are in dire need of support in our communities, our states, countries, and world. May we resist the us vs. them mentality that is a temptation on so many levels. May we resist the temptations of indifference or feeling like we have nothing to contribute. Jesus calls us to be contemplatives in action.
Jesus, lead us to pray, to come to know God our Father, and his will for our life. Help us to hear and meditate on your living word, to know what you would have us do so that we can be your presence to others in our midst. In our unique ways, let us meet the actions of division, polarization, and dehumanization, with the healing balm of unity, dialogue, and empowerment.