Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memory of Saint Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John, bishop and martyr (+155).

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 9, 38-40

John said to him, 'Master, we saw someone who is not one of us driving out devils in your name, and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.'

But Jesus said, 'You must not stop him; no one who works a miracle in my name could soon afterwards speak evil of me.

Anyone who is not against us is for us.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In reporting the episode of the healer "outside" of the group, Mark places himself within a tradition that is unique in his genre. Jesus clearly appears to be a teacher who is absolutely open and ready to welcome good from wherever it comes; not only does he not close himself off within his group, but he demands that his disciples not follow a sectarian spirit. Whoever does good is accepted by God, because God is at the origin of every good and just thing. The words that he speaks to the disciples, "whoever is not against us is for us," are a source of wisdom and a great help for each disciple to open his or her heart to others just as he or she opened it to the Lord. This Gospel passage seems particularly relevant in our contemporary world, in which we witness the resurgence of ethnic walls and barriers that set one group against others. The Gospel helps us understand and recognize what is good and beautiful in the world and in the hearts of men and women. And the disciples need to appreciate this. Whoever acts with charity is welcomed by the Lord, as is also affirmed in the Gospel passage of Matthew 25, which talks about the universal judgment. Jesus makes a connection between salvation and the act of offering just one glass of water to someone who is thirsty. This means that charity is the path to salvation for all, even for those who do not believe. The apostle Paul takes the same position when he writes: "What does it matter? That Christ is proclaimed in every way...and in that I rejoice" (Phil 1:18). This openness and this willingness absolutely do not mean that we are selling Christianity short or supporting an attitude of indifference. The Word of God makes demands of everyone and asks everyone for conversion, but it is also deeply understanding of the good that can grow from every man and woman.