Text: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark 9:38-43; 45; 47-48
NOS CUM PROLE PIA BENEDICAT VIRGO MARIA!
May the Virgin Mary bless us with her holy Child!
Beloved of God, This is a passage that is so important for us to hear today in the Church.
At every level where there are organizations there tends to be those souls who wrongly suppose "their" particular expression of a charism as THE one essential charism for all people within the Church.
I have met those who have expressed to me that someone not following in "their" way (as they follow Christ) somehow indicates something is wrong with that person.
Then, there is a spirit of antagonism toward whoever is different.
The Apostle, John was the first, even as close as he became to our Lord, to express this sense of exclusivity within the Church toward others following Jesus.
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."
Someone else was following Jesus and doing the work of God - and the disciples, feeling it was okay to do so -- "forbade him" - their rationale -- "because he was not following us."
Some have taken this -- "because he was not following us" to extremes.
His Eminence, Cardinal Ratzinger has made this issue very simple for all of us who are in the Church recently in the document, "Dominus Iesus." I footnote for you an answer I provided to an apologetics forum recently .
What amazes me is the incredible smoke and fog the enemy of our souls, Satan, has perpetrated on the human race!
This is spiritual warfare, beloved.
God lovingly invites people to come unto Me with open arms, and, people get the idea through the attitudes of folks that they are unwelcome!
Thus with John's comments come a raft of other ideas which fly in the face of the true teachings of the True Church. St. John listened to Jesus and followed Jesus fully. It was St. John who ultimately gave us the most inclusive Gospel statement about this in Gospel of John 5:24 which says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."
This statement must certainly extend to other properly Baptized Christians, other sheep who also follow Jesus, though not of Peter's fold.
John also mentions in detail the great prayer of our High Priest, Jesus who speaks of His one flock and one Shepherd and the ultimate visible reality of the Church as one under the One Head he established (Cf. John 15-17)
The teaching of the Church has been clear in this area, especially since Vatican II. It has been so clear that many have become schismatic over the issue.
Yet, also even within the Church, that is the Visible Church which is the True Church, (the Roman Catholic Church)-- we have those who look with jaundiced eyes at other orders which do not measure up to "their" criteria.
Alexander Pope said -- "All looks yellow to the jaundiced eye." (Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 2)
But, Jesus said - If your eye offends, pluck it out!
We are to recognize that God is working in ways we cannot begin to fully imagine for the purpose of God.
He works in everyone everywhere! There are no limits to how God is working in human beings!
If we could just scratch the surface of realizing the "opus dei in cordia" on another person, how God works on the heart of another, we would soon see the message Jesus imparts to us here through Mark's Gospel.
What are Jesus' words?
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.
To even speak in the name of Jesus carries with it a life transforming potential.
I believe this, because I have experienced it -- when converting to the Roman Catholic Faith from my separated brother status, I could not keep away from the Mass, the Eucharist, and the Real Presence! It was life transforming. I had also said many good things about Catholics when I was a Protestant.
As a result God worked in my heart of hearts the perfect work of God. The work God allowed me to do was His work even though I knew Him only imperfectly. -- "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."
I have not arrived, brothers and sisters, because we must all confess how imperfectly we all know Him even now, even though we have the Real Presence! The deeper we discover God in His Self-Revelation - the deeper He becomes in finding Him out! He needs to reveal Himself for us to see Him more fully.
NOS CUM PROLE PIA BENEDICAT VIRGO MARIA!
May the Virgin Mary bless us with her holy Child!
Thus, it is Jesus who sets the criteria for us in our relationships with those who follow Him, though they are not necessarily like us.
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.
A simple cup of water in Jesus' name - how gracious of God! Think of it.
However --The alternative is also true.
42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
Once we know the truth, we are responsible to follow the truth. It is not an excuse to be ignorant of the Law, especially when that Law is written on our very hearts, thus, the work of God within us!
Our self-assessment must be swift and sure. Therefore these strong words --
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
How tragically I note the many times, spiritually speaking (for I do not want to be misunderstood), are the wasted times I remember in not removing my "foot" or "hand" when they desired to swiftly run and touch sin over the graces of God?
Or, how about the "eye" that desired to look upon sin as opposed to being hidden in order to turn away and not look.?
What time we waste?
Recently, another son wrote a letter to his mother with the words (and I have his permission to quote). It is a sign of the times that these words come forth from a heart transformed into the Church--
"We walk through life on the tender shells of our own humanity and vulnerabilities. I have written much lately, writing which will mean little until after I am dead and mere dust in the earth. That is my ultimate material goal - decay, disassociation and dust. It is only what I have left behind me that will matter in the final analysis. It is the Mercy of God I long for through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.
So often I sense the words of the Holy Spirit through John, that apostle so close to Mary who took her into his home as a Mother after the death of her Son (John 19:26, 27)
I hear the words of Jesus again -- "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:12-14) James chapter 2:14-21 says -
James also writes to us, "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?"
I also hear Augustine, with whom I declare - "O Lord, my faith calls on Thee, --that faith which Thou hast imparted to me, which Thou hast breathed into me through the incarnation of Thy Son, through the ministry of Thy preacher." But, also true are the words -- "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much."
Augustine has spoke a truth as follows which drives home to where I have been going for many years now - that is faith and God's work and the movement of God upon the waters of Genesis, and this being the picture of God's movement upon our own void and wasteland. From his "Confessions", Augustine writes - "Proceed in thy confession, say to the Lord thy God, O my faith, Holy, Holy, Holy, O Lord my God, in Thy name have we been baptized, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in Thy name do we baptize, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,' because among us also in His Christ did God make heaven and earth, namely, the spiritual and carnal people of His Church? Yea, and our earth, before it received the "form of doctrine," was invisible and formless, and we were covered with the darkness of ignorance. For Thou correctest man for iniquity? And "Thy judgments are a great deep." But because Thy Spirit was "borne over the waters," Thy mercy forsook not our misery, and Thou saidst, "Let there be light," "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent ye, let there be light. And because our soul was troubled within us, we remembered Thee, O Lord, from the land of Jordan, and that mountain '' equal unto Thyself, but little for our sakes; and upon our being displeased with our darkness, we turned unto Thee, "and there was light." And, behold, we were sometimes darkness, but now light in the Lord."
But, I suppose that enough of Augustine for today, there are 5,000,000 more words to go from him...
Yet, I sense a close kinship with him, because like Augustine I have wasted a lot of my life and accomplished little. I have accept this and find myself all the more reliant upon the Grace and the mercy of God. In the end I fear that we shall all say with the Apostles, "We are poor and unprofitable servants all."
Did they not sleep at Gethsemane, while Jesus sweat great drops of Blood?
I have also slept and rested while Jesus wept.
Now, I cannot do anything but move in accordance with the Holy Spirit's clear direction for me in Christ Jesus and realize it is all betwixt my Savior and me, no matter what those inside or outside the Church may think. I must follow my Lord Jesus at all costs. I know of no other one on heaven or on earth who has the words of eternal life. It is only in Jesus that we have eternal life... John 5:24, et al." (END of QUOTE)
There is a warning for us.
Life is fleeting and running fast paced in a manner we cannot comprehend, and suddenly we find ourselves another decade added, asking ourselves - "Where did the time go?".
Waste no more time.
The time will come, with the judgment of God and all will be salted with this fire that will purge and clean the house of sin.
48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
Let us seek that purgation that is filled with the Love of God in the spirit of St. Catherine of Genoa who writes of it in the "Fire of God's Love." (see, Sophia Press)
 On the Apologetics forum located at --
Mr. X recently wrote asking us -- "Recently, the Vatican put out document reaffirming the belief of the RCC that the only way to salvation is through the Catholic Church. I have read that may Popes have also made this statement. Is it true that the Catholic Church believes that non-christian religions and protestants have no hope for salvation?"
The DECLARATION "DOMINUS IESUS" ON THE UNICITY AND SALVIFIC UNIVERSALITY OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH says - (Paragraphs 16 and 17, a portion of Paragraph 17 is here quoted with my comments added) -- "...the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church."
The idea of an extreme view of "extra ecclesiam, nulla salus" is not supported by the facts and the teaching of the Church, as has been re-expressed by the Congregation of Faith and Doctrine. The extreme view that you express you have heard is not that of the Church! Thus, Vatican II is further clarified by these documents, which continually re-affirm that -
"...Those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church."
This is what I discovered in my journey Home to the Church through my Protestant past. I know I loved God then as I love him more now.
The Church does not teach that non-Christians and Protestants have no hope for salvation. The EXTREME view of the TRUE statement, "extra ecclesiam, nulla salus", or "outside the Church, no salvation" is not supported by the teaching of the Church, as has been re-expressed by the Congregation of Faith and Doctrine. The extreme view that you have heard is not that of the Church!
The Church teaching in quite clear on this and nothing has changed at all in the recent release which says -- (In considering the values which these religions witness to and offer humanity, with an open and positive approach, the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions states: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and teachings, which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men". (4) Continuing in this line of thought, the Church's proclamation of Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6), today also makes use of the practice of inter-religious dialogue. Such dialogue certainly does not replace, but rather accompanies the missio ad gentes, directed toward that "mystery of unity", from which "it follows that all men and women who are saved share, though differently, in the same mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ through his Spirit". (5) Inter-religious dialogue, which is part of the Church's evangelizing mission, (6) requires an attitude of understanding and a relationship of mutual knowledge and reciprocal enrichment, in obedience to the truth and with respect for freedom. (7) )
This does not mean that we dialogue for the sake of dialogue. This does not mean that we are not to evangelize! This means we are to evangelize and dialogue to try to win people to Christ and the True Church! We dialogue to win people to the Truth as taught by the Church.
As for the "separated brethren" -- there is much said in paragraphs 16 and 17 of the document, DECLARATION "DOMINUS IESUS" ON THE UNICITY AND SALVIFIC UNIVERSALITY OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH
It makes very clear that that the Church is one and all true Christians who by virtue of their baptism -- have a salvation that "subsists in the Catholic Church." There is only ONE CHURCH and Churches particular. "There are other Christian ecclesial communities -- which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. But with respect to these, it needs to be stated -- "they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church".
I plead with all to consider the clear language of the last paragraph I have cut and pasted here so that you may read it twice -
"On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church."
Here are portions of paragraphs 16. and 17. for your review.
(16. The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ's salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), (47) which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18). (48) And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single "whole Christ". (49) This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9). (50)
Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: "a single Catholic and apostolic Church". (51) Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church - like everything that belongs to the Church's integrity - will never be lacking. (52)
The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity - rooted in the apostolic succession (53) - between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: "This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as 'the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him". (54) With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that "outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth", (55) that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. (56) But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that "they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church". (57)
17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. (58) The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. (59) Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church. (60)
On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, (61) are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. (62) Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church. (63) ) END of QUOTATION SECTION...