If Jesus would have been as hungry for power for power’s sake as his disciples seemed to be in last week’s gospel reading, he could have been the most notorious gangster of all time. Gangs feed off the energy of their leaders and those leaders generate power by building a reputation. By this point in the gospel readings from Mark, both last week’s and today’s, Jesus already had quite a reputation both for what he said and for the miracles he performed. In last week’s reading the disciples argued with each other about who in their gang was the greatest. In today’s reading John runs to Jesus, warning him of some interloper casting out demons in Jesus’ name, trying to horn-in on “Our Thing.”
“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 already had his run-in with THE Devil in the desert and by that point could recognize a friend from an enemy.
“You must not stop him,” Jesus told John. “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.”
Simple as that. Jesus’ power is simplicity itself, therefore pure. And again, as in last week’s reading, Jesus teaches his disciples how much God values the innocence and simplicity of children, at the same time warning them about the corrupting nature of absolute power:
“But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone hung round his neck,” Jesus told them.
Maybe that’s where the 20th century Mafia got the idea for that method of dispatching rivals.
More important was Jesus’ influence on his own gang. He taught his disciples well, turning them away from the evil of their human nature. They became wise protectors and keepers of our faith, passing it down to generations of fathers, both priests and Dads. We as Dads must take Jesus’ simple but powerful lesson to heart. We have great power but also an awesome responsibility to teach our children as Jesus taught his disciples.