This week, Jesus sounds like a cowboy out of the Ol’ West, making sure no bandits try to get any of the good stuff. Or is He? “If you ain’t with us, yer agin’ us” is an old adage made famous by cowboys, presidents, and even ancient Romans. Jesus, in his usual style of humor and relatability, flips it over and uses it to teach us something very important: Whoever is not against us is for us. The Truth of Jesus and the Good News of the Gospel is not ours to keep, withhold, or deny to or from others who may not have the fullness of it as we do. Many a lesson can be learned from the ignorant, unlearned, and even impious. An atheist might stumble across Truth and share it, too! In fact, you and I are not fully versed in the Truth, no matter how much we know or how much we share. So, are we agin’ Him, or for Him? This week’s Mass warm-up gets your thoughts and feelings flowing with things to talk about and think about, as well as our family-friendly podcast episode covering this topic. We end with a couple of prayers to join with Jesus and the whole world in praying for what Jesus is talking about in Sunday’s Mass Readings.
So, git yer boots on and saddle up, pilgrim! There’s some Truth to be rustled up!
Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us
[will open a new tab or window].
Catechesis At Home – Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B
Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us
DISCUSSION – Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us: The Good News
Notice how Jesus says: “For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mk. 9:40) (emphasis added)
Now notice how individuals, countries, and even religions say it: “Whoever is not with us is against us.”
This, week, Jesus makes it quite clear to his Apostles that His message is for ALL people. Moses deals with the same issue in our first reading this week. Sometimes we feel that the message of God is “ours” to share or not to share, or that some other church or organization can’t do it right or doesn’t have the same gift that we do. And many Protestants believe that about Catholics and the Catholic Church. That is wrong thinking according to our Lord. Anyone who is a true believer, whether we know them personally or not, is our brother or sister. They are “whoever is not against us.” The Lord works through many avenues, some very surprising to us, to spread His message of Salvation.
God created humanity in general and EACH of us individually. And he loves each of us individually and intimately. That in itself should make us recognize other people as family, as whoever is not against us. Early on, God called a certain People to Himself, through Abraham, setting the Israelites apart from the world around them. He used Moses to lead them from slavery into the Promised Land and gave them more prophets, priests, and kings to lead them; to be faithful to Him. And finally, in the fullness of time, He sent His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to become Incarnate, suffer and die, and rise again to set us truly free and make it possible for us to join Him in heaven. This is the Good News that we have in common with whoever is not against us! This is what we want the world – whoever is against us – to know and accept and join us in believing. It does not matter if the person proclaiming the Truth of the Good News is Catholic or not. If it is the Truth, then it is of the Lord and He does Good with it and with whoever is not against us.
Let us leave the message of the world – divisive as it is declaring that we must be against it if we are not for it – to the world, and let us rejoice in the message of Jesus…whoever is not against us is for us! And boldly declare it by our lives to those who are against us!
LISTEN – We Talk About the Fullness of Truth and “Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us” in This Episode of Our Podcast, On The Road to Perfection
ACTIVITY – Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us: Catholicity = Universality
Share the following ideas with your family, and see the last part of this section for some good discussion questions.
“Catholic” is a Greek word meaning “universal.”
Who in your life lives the universal Gospel message? Who can you pinpoint to name as a Christian? Remember, “we will know they are Christians by their Love.” Is this person Catholic? If so, great! Learn how you can emulate them more and become that Message to others. If not, great! Learn how you can emulate them more and become that Message to others. (Yes, it is the same answer whether or not the person you know is Catholic; because whoever is not against us is for us!) Remember, even those who do not have the fullness of Truth can still share and teach the Truth they know. The Catholic Church has the fullness of Truth, and Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church and it is only through His Church that we are saved (CCC, 846), but those individuals without all of the Truth (including us!) can still share the Truth they know:
All men are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind, for all men are called by the grace of God to salvation.
(Lumen Gentium, 13, emphasis added)
What this means in plain speech is that God desires everyone on earth to join Him in heaven for all eternity. The Catholic Church is the planned course for that salvation, but God is not to be boxed into our way of thinking. He is God, after all. In our understanding of Scripture and Tradition, we believe that all Baptized Christians have received the same Spirit and divine adoption into His family – whoever is not against us certainly includes the baptized preaching and living the Truth revealed to them. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, but they lack a fullness of Truth that we have in the Deposit of Faith, most notably in the sacraments and Apostolic succession.
We pray for unity among all Christians and more broadly, all humanity. We want everyone to be included as part of “whoever is not against us.” This is the meaning of the catholicity of the Faith – it is for all people. Christ died and rose again for the salvation of all, not just a privileged few. When we pray our Nicene Creed, we proclaim that “I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” It is our mission to bring ourselves and as many people as we can into relationship with Christ which will lead us all to our eternal reward in heaven.
Ask these questions when talking with your family about Mass this week: How can we emulate those whom we know who bring the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ into the world? In what ways can we join them in the mission of each and every Baptized Christian? How can we do our part to make sure that whoever is not against us is everyone?
FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITY – Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us: Prayers for Christian Unity
Let us pray for all of our brothers and sisters who share our faith in Jesus Christ, that God may gather and keep together in one Church all those who seek the truth with sincerity.
Almighty and eternal God, you keep together those you have united.
Look kindly on all who follow Jesus, your Son.
We are all consecrated to you by our common Baptism.
Make us one in the fullness of faith, and keep us one in the fellowship of love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you call us together in faith and love.
Breathe again the new life of your Holy Spirit among us that we may hear your holy Word,
pray in your name, seek unity among Christians,
and live more fully the faith we profess.
All glory and honor are yours
with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.
(From Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, 2008)
LEARN MORE – Other Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us resources from Holy Owned and Operated:
Links open in a new tab or window according to your settings so that you can compare and continue in this lesson’s theme.
Whoever is not against us is for us. Which are you? How do you know?
by Beth & Kristofer Cowles
Other Help on HOO
Why Does The Catholic Church Not Believe In Cremation? Beth and Kristofer do not accept the premise.
Does the Church discourage cremation? Sure.
But it also accepts the occasional necessity of cremation, and when chosen prudently it is not a sin.
But when done for the wrong reasons, it is a grave sin. No pun intended!
Listen to understand the nuances of the Church’s teaching on this sensitive and often gut-wrenching topic.