Twenty -Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Biblically, the disciple John questions Jesus about an unknown exorcist who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name due to motivated jealousy and sectarianism, but Jesus taught him and to all his other disciples to keep unity and ruthless self-discipline among all the believers. Since in the public ministry of Jesus Christ, the disciples continued to compare themselves to others who seem to have greater healing. In the Christian tradition, Jesus expelled demons by a word and stated that this act was a sign of the coming of God’s Kingdom. His followers, and others as well, drove out demons “in his name.” In the first two centuries of the Christian era, the power of exorcism was considered a special gift that might be bestowed on anyone, lay or cleric. About 250 AD, however, there appeared a special class of the lower clergy, called exorcist, to whom was entrusted this special function.
Today the Gospel of Mark 9, describes the demon possession was considered as a form of mental illness, but exorcism was a common practice in first-century Palestine. Some people had the power to heal the symptoms of possession in the time of Jesus. Since the disciples observed that the unknown exorcist invoked Jesus’ name and was successful in his healing efforts. They complained to Jesus. Now Jesus had to deal with their sectarian attitudes of his disciples. Jesus rebukes John and other disciples also about sectarianism. He told them that “Do not stop him. He has enough faith in me to use my name in casting out demons, he is on my side and is working against Satan. Therefore, whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward” Mark 9:39-41.
Finally, we have a great lesson to live as one united nation under one God. Jesus acknowledges that deeds of faith can precede the words of faith. He also teaches that the disciples should not be reluctant to share their healing powers with others. We need to get serious and work hard in order to build good relationships with one another and keep ourselves with self-discipline and renunciation. Therefore, those who set out on the path of true discipleship will have constantly battle with these natural desires. The life of the believers is to give a sacrifice to God because it is salted with fire, that is, mixed with self-judgment and self-renunciation.
Fr. Dominic Ishaq, JCD