Sybil 1998

Gospel text

Mark 9: 38-48

38 John said to Jesus, "Master, we have seen someone who liberated people from their evil impulses in your name, and we wanted to stop him, because he was not part of our group." 39 Jesus answered them, "Do not forbid it, for no one can bring forth life in my name, and immediately afterwards be able to speak ill of me. 40 If anyone is not against me, he is for me. 41 So whoever gives you a drink of water because you are identified with Christ, really, I assure you, he will not lose his reward.

42 If anyone is responsible for the loss of one of those little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him that one of those millstones that the donkeys pull was attached to his neck before being thrown in the sea. If your hand is an obstacle in your life, let it be cut off as soon as possible. It is better for you to enter the world the world of happiness with one hand, than to have your two hands but to find yourself in the ravine where the garbage is deposited, and where the fire does not go out. 44 [...] 45 If your foot is an obstacle in your life, let it be cut off as quickly as possible. It is better for you to enter the world of happiness with one foot, than to have your two feet but to be thrown into the ravine where the garbage is deposited. 46 [...] 47 If your eye is an obstacle in your life, let it be torn off as soon as possible. It is better for you to enter with one eye into the world of God, than to have your two eyes but to be thrown into the ravine where the garbage is deposited, 48 where their worm never dies and where the fire is extinguished never.

What would you not do to keep your privileges and be special

Gospel commentary - Homily

Breaking our own little world

Most recently, the media told us about the doctors' initiative to prohibit chiropractors from prescribing drugs on the pretext that it endangers the health of patients, and that only doctors have the ability to do so! Such an initiative is as old as the world, since this Sunday's Gospel presents us with a similar situation: "Should we not forbid people who do not belong to the group of apostles to free the people from the evil that afflicts them in name of Jesus? " And in our Church today, the question could be stated like this: can we let people assume the leadership of the evangelical word and pastoral action, if they are not ordained or mandated by the bishop? John answers: we must forbid! Jesus answers: do not stop them! Why?

Jesus refers us to a perspective that is much broader than our small world. Let's be honest, why do we forbid? Why do doctors prohibit touching their private turf? Why do some priests take umbrage at the place of the laity? Why did early Christians want their community to keep the exclusivity of healing in the name of Jesus? Why some Catholics are annoyed to see the place that Muslims or Buddhists take? We have the impression that they feel attacked in their identity, in their status, in their privilege. Yet Jesus puts us in a perspective that breaks out our little world: that of his person, and the world he wants to build. Is not this what we also all seek, insofar as we started to listen to our original vocation?

In our Christian communities there are many committed people, many committee chairs, many people responsible for this and that. But the question is: what is the meaning of our commitments? If we really do it for the sake of Christ Jesus, then our perspective will be the extent of Jesus', so we will not have any private turf. On the contrary, we will rejoice to see people walking in similar paths, because they seek the same goal.

It is here that we must question our deep motivations. In the workplace, I observe great drives of personal ambitions: in positions of great responsibility, it is war and the hard competition to be the person who will occupy the top of the mountain. It is in this context that the word of Jesus must be reiterated: if your hand or your foot or your eye is an obstacle (or, according to the usual translation, a source of scandal), ie destroys you as a believer, then you must get rid of it; in other words, if all that you control and possess, if the authority you enjoy and the direction you give to your life, if the deep intentions of your heart, if all this undermines true love and your original vocation, then eliminate all this as soon as possible. Religious authorities sometimes tend to control information and training, under the pretext of protecting the believer and avoiding disturbing his faith, when in fact it contributes to his death, failing to maintain a solid foundation.

Unless isolated from the world, it is easy to be seduced by the ambient air. We fight tooth and nail for our acquired rights, for our territory, for more privileges or a higher compensation. Without denying that there are sometimes cases of blatant injustice, there is too often a refusal to open up to greater than oneself, and the slogan "We want more justice! We want to offer more service!" is only a smoke screen. It seems to me that one can hardly open oneself to greater than oneself without referring to the memory of Jesus, without drawing from the source of a deep love for him.

There is finally this extraordinary sentence: "Whoever gives you a drink of water because you are identified with Christ, I assure you, he will not lose his reward". What to say? What gives value to an action is its meaning, and an action so small as it may be carries a meaning of extremely deep value. It therefore means that in our homes, in our daily labors and struggles, all that we do as best we can on this path that Jesus has taken, opens us to a world of unsuspected grandeur, the world that was his.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, June 2003