Rejoicing in the Good Works of Others

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Today

All Saints for Today

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”  Mark 9:38-39

This passage offers us a lesson in jealousy or what we may call “exclusivism.”  John and the other Apostles witness someone with whom they were not familiar, doing the very good deed of driving out a demon in Jesus’ name.  It’s a somewhat strange image to imagine.  John sees this good act and tries to interfere by asking the person to stop.  Then he goes and tells on this man to Jesus, hoping Jesus will intervene.  But Jesus does the opposite.  

In some ways, this story is similar to a child who tattles on a sibling.  Say that one sibling does something that is permitted by the parent, but another sibling is jealous of it.  The result is that the jealous sibling tattles for a silly reason.

“Exclusivism” can be defined as a tendency to think that something is good only when I do it.  It’s a form of spiritual greed in which we have a hard time rejoicing in and supporting the good deeds of another.  This is a dangerous but all too common struggle for many.

The ideal, in our Christian life, is to look for the works of God everywhere and within everyone.  We should so deeply desire that the Kingdom of God be built up that we are overjoyed whenever we witness such activity.  If, on the other hand, we find ourselves jealous of another for the good that they do, or if we find ourselves trying to find fault with what they are doing, then we should be aware of this tendency and claim it as our sin, not theirs.

Reflect, today, upon your own reaction toward the goodness of others.  Are you able to rejoice in that goodness?  Or does it leave you with a certain jealousy or envy?  If the latter, then commit yourself to the goal of being freed from these temptations.  Our divine Lord desires that you participate in His good works.  You should seek to have that same desire.

Lord, when I am jealous of others, especially when I am jealous of their good works, help me to see this as my sin.  Help me instead to look for the many wonderful ways that You are at work in our world, and help me to rejoice in all that You do through others.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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