Esther 7: 1-6
Mark 9: 38-50
Today’s readings address issues of identity and power.
The readings today speak to the importance of knowing who we are and aligning ourselves with the God who created us. In both the old and new testament readings we encounter people who are trying to figure this out: the key questions are: who am I? and what does God ask of me?
The question of Jewish identity occupies much of the early story about Esther and Mordecai, with different judgments at different times about hiding and revealing one's Jewishness in varying situations. When Esther takes the risk of revealing her Jewish identity, the king responds favorably and the Jewish people are saved. While the powerful appear in control, God is at work leading to great reversals. Though God is never explicitly cited, the book shows a greater power at work throughout. God has not abandoned his people. No matter how bad things get for Jews under the hand of foreign powers, God is still God.
Psalm 124 proclaims the gratitude of a people who know their need of God, citing all the bad things that could have happened to the people of Israel if the Lord had not been on their side.
Reflecting back on last week’s Gospel when the disciples of Jesus were arguing about who was the greatest, we see them in today’s Gospel, still being pretty clueless
This passage begins with the disciples complaining to Jesus because others are casting out demons in his name and they are trying to stop them. Jesus turns things upside down when he says “whoever is not against us is for us”. While the disciples are wanting to judge these “outsiders”, Jesus instead focuses their attention on their own behaviour. The disciples apparently do not hear Jesus say whoever. maybe their understanding is that only they, the disciples can act in the name of Jesus. But Jesus draws a wider circle, going beyond the trained, certified, and ordained. “In my name” means to be aligned with the mission of Jesus and therefore with the one who sent Jesus.
In today’s Gospel the disciples have another go at sorting out who is the greatest. This time, their attempts focus on where the power is…… . This particular gospel comes at a time when there has been a considerable amount of consciousness raising with regard to power: sexual abuse of children by clergy, separating refugee children from their parents in the United States, and the rise of the “me too” movement as women take a stand against the abuse of power. Where the stumbling blocks that cause us to be blindsided or short sighted or complicit in allowing abuses of power.
On Sunday, many Canadians celebrated orange shirt day, the fifth year that we have recognized the survivors of residential schools and attempted to understand better our own complicity in this particular imbalance and abuse of power.
We are all complicit in the imbalance of power: as a member of a dominant culture, and often as a bystander who fails to take a stand in the face of injustice.
Jesus calls the disciples to a more inclusive vision. Jesus calls us to live in a world that is not us and them, we do this but living lives that are aligned with God’s love
“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”
― Albert Schweitzer
Story of Elly “I’m first Nations”