Sunday’s Gospel lesson, Mark 9:38-50, is not for the faint-hearted. Last week, we heard Jesus admonish his disciples over their bickering about who would be first among them, and now he scolds because someone is objecting to a person healing in Jesus’ name, even though that person is not one of the inner circle, as it were.
This isn’t the warm and fuzzy Jesus of childrens’ hymns. This isn’t the doe-eyed, pretty boy Jesus with the Sacred Heart glowing underneath his robes. This is a hard-edged prophet throwing the gauntlet down and daring others to pick it up.
Anyone, absolutely anyone, who does a deed in Christ’s name, he says, cannot afterwards speak evil of him. If you’re willing to act and speak as Christ would, then you must be prepared to do so. There are no shortcuts. There’s no trash-talking if it doesn’t work out.
You have to say what you mean and mean what you say. Carry it through.
This advice can be scary in a time where taking responsibility for one’s actions is sometimes kicked to the curb.
Does he really mean rip out your eye? Cut off your hand?
Just make sure you don’t offend. Make sure when you are proclaiming the Gospel and living it out that you do it in such a way that people might remark, “Yeah! That’s what Jesus meant! That’s what we’re supposed to do.”
Do it as if Jesus is right beside you, impatiently offering advice – yes, impatient. We’ve read how he speaks to the disciples. Listen to what the Spirit that is Christ is saying before we act. Use our hearts AND minds, think things through. Not so much, “What would Jesus do?” but, “This is what I believe Jesus would have me do because this is what my capabilities are right now at this moment and it’s what I need to follow through.”
If we take his advice, we will surely be speaking well of him who sent us.