Scripture: Lectionary 343. Sirach 4:11-19. Psalm 119:188.8.131.52.175.
Wilfrid Harrington has this remark in reference to our pericope for today
from Mark: “What is presupposed is God’s kindness which will not overlook
the slightest deed of generosity. “Reward is not something we win for
ourselves; it is always the free gift of a generous God.”
John, the brother of James of Zebedee, are called by Jesus the “sons of
thunder” because of their lack of tolerance upon those who are not
listening to Jesus, but in our narrative for today, someone is apparently
aware of the cures and exorcisms that Jesus performs so he, confident in
the Name of Jesus, does the same even though he is not a “follower” of
Jesus, that is, one of his disciples. John, then asks Jesus whether they
should stop him from calling upon Jesus’ Name (his person and his power).
John may have learned to be a little more prudent about condemning people
because they are not one with the Lord. On this occasion, and it is the
only time that John speaks alone in this Gospel he conults about the
foreigner’s use of Jesus’ name. We realize that the disciples were not
always successful in their exorcisms, but here is someone, not of the group
which follows Jesus who is able to cast out demons.
John then receives the very tolerant attitude about this from Jesus, “He
who is not against us, is with us.” In other words, let him alone for he
is doing a good thing by casting out demons. Such an attitude should help
us to all the more invoke the Holy Name of Jesus in our dealings with
people and to help them relate even more closely with the Lord by our
affirmation of them. We ourselves are led to have much confidence in the
power of invoking the Holy Name of Jesus even in those requests that seem
to demand extraordinary power from God; miracles are not to be excluded
from our prayers.
The liturgy both at the Eucharist and the prayers of the hours includes
prayers of intercession. The practice of our asking things of Jesus is
prayer and is not to be neglected for what we may think is a higher form of
prayer thus leading us not to ask. Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive.”
Perhaps, we are to pay more attention to the prayers offered by the prayer
leader or the celebrant so that they become part of our own request.
We may also think of this passage as an encouragement to use the Jesus
Prayer as another way of trusting in the Lord’s power. “Lord, Jesus, have
mercy on me a sinner.” By repeating this short prayer we enter into the
realm of contemplation by the steady calming influence this prayers has on
many individuals. It is worth our effort not to neglect praying in the Holy
Name of Jesus. Amen.