I had read the Gospel for today: John brings to Jesus the news that he had seen someone else driving out demons in Jesus name, yet he “does not travel with us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. 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.”
Why might this passage be prickly for me to read? Because I recognize John’s response as one I have made many times. It happens when I am involved in some “good work” with a group perhaps, and we hear about another community group with similar and just as effective outcomes, yet not attached to ours. Do we collaborate graciously or compete aggressively?
Or when someone, identified with a different political party than mine, is found to have just as good a solution to a national problem. I have to decide whether or not I am willing to listen to what she has to propose, despite our divergence along partisan lines.
Or a person I have labeled as belonging to a different wing, say of the Church, who says or does something vastly different than my expectations, wiser, more compassionate, or more akin to my belief. How difficult to release my closely held stereotype? Very.
The Wisdom reading, today’s first, I meet with delight. “Wisdom breathes life into her children…” “Those who serve her serve the Holy One; those who love her, the Lord loves. She comes back to bring them happiness and reveal her secrets….She will heap upon them treasures of knowledge and an understanding of justice.”
How fortunate for us that we read both of these passages and can seek the gifts of “knowledge and an understanding of justice” as we encounter those “who do not travel with us” and ask to include them as akin to us in the desire to follow God and live in His image.
Well, it would be a start.
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