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. For whoever is not against us is for us… Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
Throughout the Gospels we find Jesus struggling to turn His disciples’ thoughts from human worries to God’s way. The disciples weren’t getting it.
Peter thinks in personal and human ways about Jesus’ prediction of His suffering and death. He wants to stop it. The disciples, as explained last week, did not hear a word of Jesus’ teaching, but rather fought about who was the greatest. Today, John addresses Jesus as “teacher” and immediately demonstrates that he has not heard or integrated a word of Jesus’ teaching. John is exhibiting serious jealousy and a lack of welcome to those who would follow Jesus.
Jesus now cranks up the extreme. He’s trying to get His disciples to have, as some call it today, a ‘Come to Jesus moment.’ He’s being really blunt, trying to break through the disciples closed ears and obstinate ways. If you want to follow me – open your hearts, welcome the poor and the small, protect them, and be prepared to lay everything on the line. Don’t let My word go in one ear and out the next – let them sink in and make it real. Live my Gospel.
Living Jesus’ Gospel is not easy. It is challenging even in the best of circumstances. The people of the Church are supposed to be on the same page – inviting, welcoming, working together – but we know frustrations grow and we go astray. We get perturbed when patient love is most needed. We try to layer our justifications for the why of our personal shortcomings over the truth of the Gospel message.
Jesus calls us to hard and serious discipleship and evangelization. It shall not be one church over the next, but one Church. Work together in my name! Protect and cherish the young – the very young, teens, and young adults – because they need guidance and faithful examples. You harm them – you’re as good as dead. You’re thinking about evil, sin, harm – destroy yourself before you take the first step down that path. Yes, Jesus is serious, and He is driving home His warning in very vivid ways. This, now, is a come to Jesus moment. Seriously!