Whoever is not with me is against me.
Imagine you are traveling with Jesus and the disciples, as depicted in today’s Gospel. You hear this animated conversation between Jesus and those “testers.” Then Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” Whoever is not with Jesus is against him!?! Now, that’s something to contemplate.
A video replay passes before my mind’s eye. How he handled that situation with the woman “caught in adultery.” His interaction with the Roman centurion and what he said about that “pagan’s” faith. Revealing who he truly is with the woman at the well – the one with the five husbands. The witty exchange he had with the Canaanite woman seeking healing for her daughter and inviting himself to eat at the house of Zacchaeus, that “bad” tax collector. Hearing that challenging parable about the good Samaritan. Today’s testy exchange reminds me of Jesus’ angry, harsh words with many – not all – of the religious leaders: “hypocrites,” “whited sepulchers.” Whew!
Back from this revelry, I think about the current “Vicar of Christ,” Pope Francis. He said early on, “The Church should be at the peripheries where the Lord walks with the poor.” He moved us with his preferred image of the Church as a “field hospital.” (Jesus was a walking “field hospital.”) In his 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti, he used the “Good Samaritan” as an inspiration to enter into relationships with the “stranger.”
At each Mass, we are reminded of how Jesus laid down his life for his friends. When we hear those words “do this in memory of me,” we are invited to be with Jesus: make a gift of ourselves, be bread broken in our broken world.
So, what does it mean to be with Jesus? What video passes before your eyes?
Let Us Pray:
We ask you, O Lord, to grant us, the followers of Jesus and all people of goodwill, the grace to do your will on earth. Bless each act of welcome and outreach that draws those in exile into the “we” of community and of the Church so that our earth may truly become what you yourself created it to be: the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen. (Prayer of Pope Francis on September 27, 2021, “World Day of Migrants and Refugees”)