Similarly, in the Gospel the disciples run into a stranger who is casting out demons in the name of Jesus and they try to stop him because he is not one of their group. But Jesus warns them to leave the man alone and tells them that those who are not against them are with them. The truth is that the healing, the driving out of the demons, was through the power of Jesus. The disciples did not have the corner on using the name of Jesus to cast out demons! That was probably a tough lesson for them to learn, they were insiders, they were Jesus’ best and closest friends and here was an outsider, a stranger wielding the same power. But the truth is that it was God at work in that man, just like in them!
We can be that way too, limiting God’s grace to be when and where we think it should be and active in only whom we think it should be active. We forget that, like God’s mercy, it falls down from heaven like a gentle rain, upon the sinner and the saint. But we prefer most of the time to believe it's just for our “tribe”, just for us, the “insiders” and the “outsiders” are just that, left out! But we forget it’s God’s work, God’s desire that all creation be saved…”For God so loved the world…”.
At a time when we find our nation in such a fractious and divided state it might be good to reflect upon our common kinship as children of God, as sisters and brothers who “live and move and have our being in God.” Who are the “insiders” and “outsiders” in my life and how might I reach out to at least one or two “outsiders”? Where can I see active grace in my life right now? Can I see it active in one of the “outsiders” lives?