This weeks reading comes from Mark 9: 38 - 43, 45, 47 - 48
John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us."
But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.
I thought about this today as I was telling Pumpkin Girl about the differences that divide us Christians. We were talking about sacraments and what a blessing they were because they bring us closer to God. We just talked about the Sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist, and Marriage but they are all pretty important and there are only seven. Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.
But while they are a source of so much comfort to Catholics all around the world, many of them still serve as a lightening rod that causes other Christians to criticize and even condemn Catholics.
It is so sad. Jesus never intended for the Church to be divided. He didn't even think of breaking away from the Jews. Jesus was a good Jew. He just wanted people to know that they were making mistakes and that God wanted them back. That God sent him, God's only son, as a sacrifice for them and for all people.
Pride kept the people that Jesus grew up with from seeing Jesus as the Savior. How could Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, be the savior? We saw this kid grow up. He was a good kid but the Son of God? Come on?! Pride kept the leaders from seeing Jesus as the Savior. He just didn't fit their idea of what the Savior should be. Jesus? The Nazarene (aka the Hick)? No way! Heck, Pride was what caused this whole mess when Satan tempted Adam and Eve by telling them that if they ate the apple they could be like God.
Pride still separates us. Sure Jew are the chosen people of God but they don't believe in Jesus so they are out. Muslims believe that Jesus was a great prophet but they also believe in Muhammad so they are out. Catholics believe this so they are out. Baptists believe that so they are out. If you believe it all, then there is no one left because we are all out.
We spend so much time arguing amongst ourselves that we fail to see how much we have in common. Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in the same God. It is the God of Abraham and Isaac. And it is pride that often keeps us from sharing in what we do believe in common. I often think of the good we have done individually and what more we could do if we could just focus on what we share instead of attacking each other.
And isn't that what God really wants?
I am not saying that there are not legitimate theological differences that need working out. Maybe these differences really do make true communion between the various denominations impossible. But we should spend at least as much time trying to see how much we agree.
Maybe if we just humbled ourselves and tried to be the least instead of first we could actually start to achieve God's plan for us and finally achieve His vision for us to be one body of Christ.