Sir 4:11-19; Ps 119:165,168,171,172,174,175; Mk 9:38-40: Like King David in today’s psalm, like all the saints, we long for his salvation. We long to be filled with the delight of those who love the law of the LORD. All who oppose the laws of any Empire, they delight in the law of the LORD. We are consumed with the desire to fulfill the LORD’s commands even if it would place us in opposition to the powers of the world. The decrees of the LORD give us great peace and for us even martyrdom is no stumbling block. All who keep all the precepts and decrees of the LORD, and all of his ways were before the eyes of the LORD. From the rising of the sun to its setting this holy priest offered praise, because he learned from what he prayed. Without hesitation the saints wait for the promise of the LORD so that everyone would come to know that all the commands of the LORD are just. May our hearts be set ablaze with love for the wisdom of the LORD. Let our witness to Christ never prevent another from driving out demons even if he is not of our company.
Without wisdom we are delivered into the hands of despoilers. We are the children of wisdom who guides us and admonishes all who seek her. The love of life is wisdom. The LORD embraces all, who seek wisdom. Only if we hold fast to her will we inherit glory. In all our dwellings the LORD is near and full of blessings. Those who serve wisdom serve the Holy One, and everyone who loves wisdom the LORD loves. Only those who obey wisdom have what it takes to judge nations; all who hearken to her dwell in her inmost chambers. Wisdom first puts us to the test until she can trust our soul. After these trials, wisdom comes back to us with great happiness, and to those who have been tested and found worthy of trust, she reveals her secrets. Upon us she heaps treasures of knowledge and the understanding of justice. If we are unfaithful, we suffer the consequences. Wisdom does not abide in the heart of the fool. Wisdom is found in the souls of those who seek the LORD. Because of her counsel we can discern those who are with us and those who are against us. Just because someone is not of our company doesn’t mean they are not united to our purpose. Disciples in every age need wisdom to hear this teaching from the Lord Jesus.
Even the most intimate friend of the Lord Jesus can get it wrong. Sometimes we let our closeness to Christ become a clique that is merely elitism. In today’s gospel the Apostle John wants the Lord Jesus to approve of his exclusive notion of discipleship. He was upset that someone would use the Name of Jesus to expel demons and not be a member of the inner circle of disciples. Although the Rite of Exorcism demands that a priest be appointed by the local bishop so that the full authority of the Christ the Great High Priest and the full prayer of the church be present during the exorcism, anyone can pray to cast out the evil influence in someone’s life. A Major Exorcism is used to minister to those who are possessed by demons; nevertheless, minor exorcism prayers are found in the journey of a catechumen to baptism. Anyone can pray these prayers in private for someone who is in need. At such times faith-filled believers must rely upon the only Name given for the salvation of the world. All who pray for liberation from the influence of the evil one invoke the name of the Lord Jesus. This not so official and even hidden ministry should not cause envy on the part of any official exorcist. Ordinary believers praying for freedom from demonic influence do not hinder the unique and necessary ministry of an appointed exorcist. Indeed, the instruction of our Divine Teacher today is essential so that we may all be one in a united opposition to the kingdom of evil. Anyone who practices the ministry of the official exorcist in the church knows how valuable is the support of all who pray to overcome any influence of the devil.