Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Do I See The Intolerance?

Do I See The Intolerance?

May 22, 2013
Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
By Jack Finnerty
Wisdom breathes life into her children and admonishes those who seek her. He who loves her loves life; those who seek her will be embraced by the Lord. (Sirach 4:11-12)
Those who love your law have great peace, and for them there is no stumbling block.  (Psalm 119:165)
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....For whoever is not against us is for us." (Mark 9:38, 40)


"He drew a circle that shut me out---Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle and took him in!" From the poem "Outwitted" by Edwin Markham.


Today's Gospel shows the early disciples practicing frustration or even intolerance of one who dared to try to do what they saw as their role. That person was referred to as "not one of us," and John speaking on behalf of the other disciples, spoke to Jesus about it. We don't know John's true motives, but he likely wanted to complain at the actions of an interloper to what the disciples saw as part of their role. As we read in the Gospel just two days ago, these same disciples were themselves unable to drive out a demon from the young boy. Now, Jesus' disciples try to erect barriers or stumbling blocks, separating out some within the young church. Mere acceptance as an equal was not acceptable to these disciples; the other had to be relegated to some lesser status. Jesus meets this challenge head on, neither needing or wanting bouncers guarding the door to his church in this way. He sees the stumbling block. Instead, He takes the opportunity to continue teaching his disciples, and us, a lesson in tolerance. Jesus never attempted to force belief on those unfriendly to his message; but he never turned anyone away either.
Reflecting on this gospel reading in my own life, and thinking about some "church" groups that I know, I can see that there are subtle ways that we members of one group or another have erected barriers or stumbling blocks in the way of others who would desire to become one of us or do what we do. I now realize that in groups that I am familiar with or a part of, not only has that happened, I was not even aware of it. No "True Confessions" here, but I am amazed and embarrassed at the subtleness, unknowing, unplanned or unseeing actions or inactions that have resulted in intolerance rather than tolerance,  exclusion rather than inclusion. How easy it has been to fall into those situations!


What stumbling blocks do you put in the way of others? What stumbling blocks do Christians or Catholics that you know put up that hurt the cause of the Gospel? What are the stumbling blocks by which the church communities sabotage their own ministries? What are you going to do about preventing these stumbling blocks?

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