Few of us go through life without joining some kind of group or club. Joining a particular group, religious, political or social, can enlarge our world and introduce us to new people and new possibilities. It can help us to move within a relatively secure network of relationships. That sense of belonging is important to our identity: membership is proof of how others accept and recognise how we see ourselves. Rejection is a clear signal of disapproval and this is what the Gospel reading is all about this Sunday; Rejection of those who are not of our religious belief or whatever. The exorcist in the Gospel is put before us this weekend as the example of someone who was rejected and the gospel then goes on to tell us about the acceptance that Jesus has for those people such who were rejected. Don’t forget that Jesus suffered the ultimate rejection on the Cross of Good Friday.
The disciples consider Jesus their own personal treasure and they want him for themselves. They seemed to have been an ambitious group last Sunday we heard them arguing over who was the greatest among them. This Sunday they complain that they saw someone who was not part of their group performing a healing in Jesus’ name.
If there had been laws concerning copyright way back then I think the Apostles would have copyrighted Jesus name and the power that went along with it. I can just imagine them licensing the use of Jesus’s name and then asking “How many times do you want to use Jesus’s name that will cost so much. How many times do you want to cure someone in his name that will be so much more”. They felt they were privy to Jesus that is to say he was the apostles and no one else’s.. It’s as if Jesus is a rock star and they are his agents, with exclusive rights over what he does and says. What they really wanted was a tidy little religious box, clearly in their control but they hadn’t factored in Jesus and what he had been sent into the world to do. They forgot the size of his heart, remember it had no limits. They forgot how big his compassion was, remember it never ran out and wasn’t limited to the few who under the law had the proper credentials or disposition to receive it.
There was plenty for everyone in terms of faith then as there is now. Jesus is the visible face of the God that we can’t see and yet we believe; we believe in the God who wants to speak words of love and joy to all, not just a few; who wants to reach out and touch all those broken of limb, and broken of spirit, not just those who belong to our club or carry the right credentials.
After they see Jesus crushed on the cross and later, when he rises from the dead, the apostles finally get the message and understand what had happened to them as a result of their involvement with Jesus. Then they would do exactly what we’re doing right now, retell the stories about Jesus as they set out to continue the story without restrictions or limits of any kind; When they did all of this they would have been speaking and acting in Jesus’ name, not just for a select few, but for everyone they met, or came to them in any need. In Jesus’ name they opened the eyes of the blind, cured the cripples, and even raised the dead. At first they got it wrong, but then they learned what it meant to speak and act in Jesus’ name everything was possible for them.
In our world today we often forget that our faith is not about the select few but our faith is for everyone. We need to remember that we don’t always get it right and remember that everything is possible to those who have faith in the name and person of Jesus Christ the Son of God.