September 26, 2021

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why do we make enemies? Why do we look with suspicion upon others? In today’s gospel, the disciples tell Jesus that they “saw someone driving out demons in your name.” This apparently bothered them because they then recount, “we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus’ reaction shows he is not in the least disturbed by this man ministering in Jesus’ name. Instead, he uses it as a teaching moment for his disciples, saying, “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.” This holds a mirror to Jesus’ disciples, revealing some of their assumptions and judgments. Why did they jump to the conclusion that this man was doing something wrong? Why did he threaten them? Why weren’t they happy to see good work being accomplished in Jesus’ name? These are challenging questions but also an opportunity for growth.

Elsewhere in scripture, Jesus speaks to his disciples about the negative consequences of judging others (Matthew 7:1-3, Luke 6:37). It’s a tendency we see all too prevalent in our time, but it is not new. In Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006, chapter 61), he presents this wisdom saying: a great person “thinks of his enemy as the shadow he himself casts.” That’s a thought-provoking image. It means that we play a role in making people our adversaries or enemies. The man ministering in Jesus’ name was neither the disciples’ adversary nor enemy, but the disciples treated him as such.

Eucharist calls us to be something more. Eucharist calls us to be brothers and sisters in Christ, looking for and celebrating the good in others. This doesn’t mean that we are blind to others’ sins and failings (or our own). It does mean we must be able to break bread at the heavenly banquet table with whomever we find ourselves, hopefully celebrating the good of the other.

Let Us Pray:

Loving God, Your Son Jesus patiently guided his disciples in your ways. Send your Holy Spirit to help us set aside uncharitable judgments and seek love, peace, and reconciliation in all of our relationships. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About John Christman, SSS