Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
26th Sunday Ordinary Time – B
I direct your attention to two lines from the Gospel of Mark.
First, the disciple John, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
The second line sums up Jesus’ response, “For whoever is not against us is for us.”
I have the privilege of working with the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults in our parishes. I’ve worked in this ministry for about 10 years and am always renewed in faith through working to bring people into the Church, the Body of Christ.
Actually, I don’t bring anybody into the Church – that is the work of the Holy Spirit: God’s unceasing call to bring each of us into a closer relationship with Him. My task, as catechist, is to walk along with them on this part of their journey in the Lord.
I am always amazed by those who desire a closer relationship with the Lord. Their hearts are truly “burning within them” as they seek to become one in the Lord. To listen to their stories, - their stories of faith and - their journey to the Lord - are wonderful to hear and see. They give witness to the power of God and how much we are loved as he seeks to return His sheep to the fold, often carrying us in his arms.
We begin next week with five people who seek to become one of us, - who seek to drive out demons in Jesus’ name – people - who are for us and not against us. Over time you will meet these brothers and sisters of ours in Christ: who come here to be with us – seeking, as we all seek - in our journey together - a closer relationship with the Lord.
One of the themes in common with those who come to us - is their desire to be part of something larger than themselves. They seek to become members of a living and active community. There is a longing for meaning in their lives, which they hope to find in Christ Jesus and in His Church.
· We are the Church!
· We are the people of God, the Body of Christ!
· We are the living stones, the life in the Church.
In us and through us - the message of God’s salvation through Jesus, his son, is passed on – person to person, family member to family member, - generation to generation.
· We are evangelizers of the faith!
· We heed Christ’s call - to go forth making disciples of all nations, baptizing in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
· We are the continued apostolic line - bringing the Word of God to all-the-world.
· We preach in our actions and words and make real His presence in the world
· We are called Christians, - known by our good works - as followers of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Every organization needs to continually grow and be renewed. Without growth and renewal, - without attracting new members - the organization will decrease and eventually cease. We have seen - and experienced - our parishes decreasing.
Before I came to Asbury Park, I worked and ministered in parishes that have been twinned and combined. It is not easy to live through – but we must always hope in the Lord. I asked my bishop to come here because I saw the possibilities and challenges of renewal and growth among this Body of Christ - the communities that have come together here. These are living communities, full of the power of Christ. I have spoken with many of you and hear of the care, love and concern for the future of these communities.
BUT – and there is always that word in every situation – The Lord’s work is done through his people. Each of us, clergy and laity, as disciples of Jesus; - work to bring about God’s promise of salvation to the world. We are His messengers of His Word – evangelists, teachers and preachers. As we live truly Christian lives - in our words and in our actions – we evangelize the world of God’s great Love for all people and His promise of Life Eternal.
· I ask each of us to continue the good work of the Lord, especially as you meet and welcome our brothers and sisters who seek to become part of our communities through the RCIA.
· And I ask you continue to help spread the Word of God, - to grow our communities - through evangelizing.
· Invite those members of your family and your friends who have fallen away from the Church – to come back to the Lord.
· Let them see in you - the miracles and wonders of the Lord: – As you drive out demons in Jesus name – and bring His message of Love and make known His desire for all his children to live with him in heaven for ever and ever – AMEN
Deacon Don Ron