We All Belong (Sept. 20, 2015)

Moses’ words in the First Reading for Sunday stopped me for a moment: “Would that the Lord would bestow his spirit on all his people.” I deeply believe the Lord has given his Spirit to all people, but there are many who choose not to use it. It’s the same thing with the words of Consecration. Jesus didn’t shed his blood for many. He shed it for all, but many choose not to take advantage of that salvation.

If we want to belong to a group or club certain things are expected. If you don’t have them, you can’t belong. There are almost always a set of rules that determine who belongs and who does not.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, the apostle John complains to Jesus that someone is casting out demons in his name. In other words, someone who didn’t belong was doing Jesus’ work. He apparently believed that to be a follower of Jesus was to be part of an exclusive group, a group that only a few privileged people could belong to. Jesus lays down for John a clear and simple rule for those who belong with him. “Whoever is not against us is for us.”

A pretty simple rule wouldn’t you say? So why do we so often get it wrong? Why are we sometimes like John, thinking that to belong to my group, one has to meet certain criteria and follow certain rules.What of someone who don’t regularly go to church. “Ohmigosh,” say some. “S/he is not a good Catholic.” But what if that person were deaf and couldn’t hear anything in Church. They prefer to stay home and watch the TV Mass, which has closed captions. I think of the people who have different beliefs and values than us. I think of the person who lifestyle may challenge what we have been taught. I think of the folks who may not be of sound mind and body. If I were on the judgment seat, would I be saying: “You belongyou don’t.”

We are all guilty of making judgments of people, of saying who makes a good follower of Christ and who doesn’t. I confess to using the words “for all” in the Consecration rather than “for many.” I was challenged on that once. This was after Mass and I was outside greeting folks. So I kind of swept my hand at everyone, and said: “OK, show me who is excluded.”

Instead of playing God the judge, be God’s smile for someone instead!

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