The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation 
"For he that is not against us is for us"

Scripture: Mark 9:38-41

38 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." 39 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. 40 For he that is not against us is for us. 41 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.

Meditation: Do you rejoice in the good that others do? Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion. They were upset that someone who was not of their company was performing a spiritual work in the name of Jesus. They even "forbade" the man "because he was not following us". Jesus' reply is filled with wisdom: "No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me." Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good deeds of others who seem to shine more than us? Paul says that "love is not jealous... but rejoices in the right" (1 Cor. 13:4,6). Envy and jealousy, its counterpart, are sinful because they lead us to sorrow over what should make us rejoice -- namely, our neighbor's good. The reason we may grieve over our another's good  is that somehow we see that good as lessening our own value or excellence.  Envy forms when we believe that the other person's advantage or possession diminishes or brings disgrace on us. Envy is contrary to love. Both the object of love and the object of envy is our neighbor's good, but by contrary movements, since love rejoices in our neighbor's good, while envy grieves over it. How can we overcome envy? With the love that God puts into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).  This love seeks the highest good of our neighbor.  Ask the Lord to fill you with the fire of his purifying love that you may always rejoice in the good of others, even in those you find disagreeable.

The love of Christ not only frees us from envy and jealousy, but it compels us to give generously, especially to those in need. Every one in need has a claim on us
because they are dear to Christ and bear the image and likeness of God. God created us in love for love. The charity we show to our neighbor in his or her need
expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant goodness and kindness of God towards us. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help.  As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Are you grateful for God’s mercy and kindness towards you and are you ready to show that same kindness and generosity towards your neighbor?

Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century church father comments on this passage: “God never asks his servants to do what is impossible.  The love and goodness of his
Godhead is revealed as richly available.  It is poured out like water upon all. God furnished to each person according to his will the ability to do something good.  None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: ‘whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.’” Ask the Holy Spirit to transform your heart by the fire of his love that you may wholly desire what is good for your neighbor.

"Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the gospel to others.  May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and
freedom from sin and the corruption of evil."

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 (c) 2000, 2005 Don Schwager