The second time I had an opportunity to preach as a deacon was at San Gregorio Church in Rome where the Sisters of Charity had a convent. As it turned out, Mother Teresa was there for the Mass. Of course, I should have been there to listen to her! Instead, with her characteristic humility, she listened attentively to me dare to preach God's word. As luck would have it, I found my homily notes among some old papers of mine. I don't know what the readings of the day were, but the date was May 21, 1991.
Whenever Jesus speaks with his disciples he is careful to bring them back to what is most basic and most important.
For instance, in yesterday's gospel when the disciples were bickering about who was the most important, Jesus reminds them that to be a disciple of his is not to be better than others but to serve others.
In this morning's gospel quite the same situation reoccurs.
The disciples felt that they were right to try to stop the man expelling demons in Jesus' name. After all, he was not an intimate friend of Jesus as they were. He had not traveled with Jesus witnessing his healings and hearing his words as they had. He had not seen Jesus transfigured as they had. What right did he have to use Jesus' name?
But Jesus sees through their pride and tells them the way things really are and should be: "Don't you realize what you have done? You almost stopped him from freeing a child of God from the grip of the Devil."
And in doing that, Jesus brings them back to what is most basic and most important about a life of discipleship - that Jesus' name be the source of freedom and salvation for all God's children.
What then, sisters and brothers, is most basic in our lives as disciples of Jesus? Does not he who has shown us so much love and forgiveness simply want us to show that same forgiving love to everyone we meet so that his name may be a source of freedom and salvation for them?
Enlightened by his word, nourished and strengthened by his body and blood, let us get back to basics, to what's most important.
Let us show the loving, forgiving, consoling face of Jesus to the poor, the needy and the sinners we meet today.