May 22: St. Rita / Santa Rita

In Mark 9, 38-40, we read: “John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.’”

St. Mark’s Gospel often shows deep misunderstanding on the part of His followers, but it also often shows a clash of views between Jesus and His friends. Some of the disciples had a “them-and-us” view of other people. They were convinced that only those of the inner circle could be trusted to do the Lord’s work. Jesus had a more nuanced view than this! He could see that even people who had not formally joined Him could be doing God’s life-giving work. Indeed, He makes the generous statement, “Anyone who is not against us is for us”’ That can be a most hopeful guideline for us, in the times in which we live.

For example, many of our friends and neighbors do not explicitly share our faith, or at least practice it in the traditional way; yet they are not against the Gospel either. We are invited to work to build bridges with whoever, in any way, shows a desire to enhance the life of others, who bring some relief where it is needed. We can be partners in mission with those who are not even professed Christians. In these times, we need the outlook of Jesus Himself rather than the narrower vision of His first-disciples.

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For the feastday of St. Rita (healer, reconciler, peacemaker, and unofficial patron saint of baseball): https://www.saintritashrine.org/ (click on the tab Saint Rita of Cascia)

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Santa Rita (Oraciones y su historia): https://www.ewtn.com/es/catolicismo/santos/rita-de-casia-15067

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