Even back then, when Jesus was among the folks he hand-picked to be his apostles, they couldn't agree and they argued, and they wanted to exclude people who weren't like them, who weren't part of the club. How are we supposed to do any better?
Today's reading from Mark has the band of Jesus traipsing through Galilee and on to Capernaum. Jesus is trying to teach them yet again about the upcoming Passion, death and resurrection he is heading toward, and they don't get it. He hears them arguing while they are walking and asks them when they reach their destination what that was about, and they don't want to tell him. He knows though, and tells them to be like a child, to welcome a child and care for children. Then the beloved John tells Jesus about this outsider curing people in Jesus' name and how they tried to stop him because he wasn't one of them. Jesus says Don't do that, let those who act in my name, act.
The apostles and the other followers of Jesus were a special club....they knew that and wanted to protect that status. They also argued inside that special club about who was better. This is part of our human nature, our individual (and at times group-think) desire to be special, set apart, important. And to be able to decide who is in, and who isn't.
Part of the challenge of today's Gospel reading is to ask ourselves: who are we excluding from our lives in the kingdom because we see them as different, not one of us? A challenging question when so many of us feel excluded and looked down upon by others. One of the things Jesus is saying today is that we need to get over those feelings, and no matter how much we may want to go tit-for-tat, responding/reacting to prejudicial behavior, that isn't our job or purpose as the Body of Christ in the world today. Not easy, but a way of being in this world to work toward.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.