Do Good: We Will Meet One Another There

Having mentioned Pope Francis last week, let me revisit a homily he delivered back in May.

The gospel reading for the day was this text from Mark:
Mark 9.38-40
John said to him, "Master, we saw someone who is not one of us driving out devils in your name, and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him."

But Jesus said, "You must not stop him; no one who works a miracle in my name could soon afterwards speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us"
As shared by Vatican Radio, the Pope began his homily by noting that the disciples raise the complaint, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And yet, Francis summarized, Jesus corrects his followers: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.”

Francis described the disciples as "a little intolerant" in that they believe that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” But Francis argued, “This was wrong...Jesus broadens the horizon.” Jesus does so by rooting our doing good in our shared participation in creation: “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”

From there Francis worked out a theology by which we can all find common ground--from Christian to atheist--in the shared doing of good. Francis' powerful elaboration on this notion from his sermon:
The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. "But, Father, he is not Catholic! He cannot do good." Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this 'closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.

Instead the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil.

The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! "Father, the atheists?" Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. "But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!" But do good: we will meet one another there.

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7 thoughts on “Do Good: We Will Meet One Another There”

  1. The desire to see the good of all is not something that simply comes over us one morning; it comes through a long education of the heart and mind until we consciously and deliberately, day by day, moment by moment, make the effort to see Christ in the next individual we meet. Someone is probably asking, "Well, just how do we help those Christians who see most as 'not one of us' do that"?

    No easy answers here. But maybe, as your post puts forth, it is a constant reminder of the good practiced by others. Indeed many, too many Christians are terrified of embracing someone they are "not supposed to embrace", and this keeps churches stunted and ineffective. But my prayer is that there are enough ministers out there who can enter these dens of fear and point to the good of others in such a wise and gentle way that it has people nodding a loving "yes" before they realize they just took a step into the darkness of pure faith.

  2. The more I hear from Pope Francis, the more genuinely impressed I am with him as a person, a Christian, and a spiritual leader.

  3. I converted to Catholicism in 2000. Spent 12 years practicing the faith. I left the church about 7 months ago after I could no longer push my doubts and questions down deep enough. The Catholic church will always hold a special place in my heart for there I did hear the message of love and grace and goodness. I say all of this to point out I harbor no ill will toward the church and didn't leave because I hate it or God or anything else. I just couldn't stay any longer. But I do see a good thing in the new pope. Francis has a message of peace and love and openess that is refreshing. I enjoyed these remarks from him. While the question of "what is god, and what does it mean to love him/her/it" bounce around in my brain, I haven't quite given up trying to follow in Jesus do good, to love my neighbor. Like Francis, I believe we will meet there some day....

  4. Hey Melanie, thanks for the comment. It's refreshing to hear that you don't have any ill will and that you're still searching and you have an open heart. Would you mind if I share a bit of my story?

    I've been Catholic my whole life, but in my late teens and early twenties I really fell away from my faith (though I would show up at mass on Sundays). Though when I was 21 I was kicked out of the USAF Academy for lying about a friend drinking, which totally through my future/career plans off.

    Thought I'd find life and purpose in politics, but I realized there was something much deeper than the debates and the ideologies on the Right or Left. Neither could fix the brokenness of our country, states, or the human heart, in the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere
    insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to
    separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line
    dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And
    who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

    At this point 3 things really opened my eyes to a relationship with God: 1) intellectual blocks were removed as I started reading more about God and theology, 2) I realized the struggle I had between good and evil and the depth of my sin (and I experienced powerfully God's mercy in confession), and 3) I found acceptance and welcome and deep and lasting friendships with other Christians.

    Thanks for reading, I'd love to dialogue more if you're open to it.

  5. I would like to first say that I am a New York Yankee fan and Manchester city supporter. But, dammit! you have to buy a round for anybody, no matter what jersey they're wearing. Who cares if they don't buy a round for you.

  6. I'm not being a jerk or anything. But I heard of this prophecy (probably fake) that Pope Francis will be the last. On top of this message of universalism AND some other prophecy about how near the END there will be a one world religion - it scares me. More than anything I want all to be redeemed by the blood of The Christ. But I'm not so sure and that scares me MORE than believing 90% of humanity will end up in Hell for all eternity

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