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 that the kingdom of God is open to all those who were willing to receive his invitation to enter into a relationship his Father. That relationship 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, and 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.
Jesus again offers us a 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 as well. There is much that we can do together with Christians of other denominations, people of other faith traditions, and people of good will as well.
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 tempts us 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, to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to act as he leads us.
Jesus, invites us to spend time in prayer to better know God our Father and his will for our life. He encourages us to slow down so that we can listen and be still so that we will recognize his voice in the silence of our hearts and come to know how we can best act each day to be of help and support. In our own unique ways, let us meet division, polarization, and dehumanization, with the healing balm of unity, dialogue, and empowerment.