Mark 9:38

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons by using your name, and we tried to prevent him, because he did not follow us.”

poor weak Jesus
gets the credit
so someone else
must protect his name
a monopoly broken
means less job security
for those down ladder

disciples are reactive
when it comes to a pecking order
their antennae lively
for the slightest danger
that they can’t report
they did it
all by themselves

If one of us isn’t going to be the greatest, it sure makes sense to be on guard against some nobody usurping our fantasy.

Everyone knows how G*D seems to have this fetish for the least expected being the one chosen for a next revelation. Right from the beginning it is the youngest who seems to be the apple of G*D’s eye. Abel’s “offering” to G*D was well accepted, approved, favored, heeded, liked, received, regarded, respected. Anyway you slice it, with no reason given, Abel turns out to be the saint and Cain the goat.

In today’s world the accusation wouldn’t simply be that someone else wasn’t one of us, but that they would be someone actively seen to be in competition with us. In this zero sum game the current candidate needed to be stopped would be a Muslim. During the Cold War of the 1950’s it would have been an atheistic communist (without the respect of capitalization). Between them it would have been some “bleeding-heart liberal”, “abortionist”, or “homosexual”.

When we have a monopoly on ultimate goodness, a gate-way to some divine, we get very possessive. This leads to a restricted vision of G*D and a refusal to be a partner by claiming the right of definition of who is in and who is definitely out. This is particularly true when we suspect we are not quite as in as we claim to be.

There is inherent in competition a certain laziness. We focus all our attention on winning and in so doing lose track of a next learning or engagement with the abundance of life. It is difficult to remain open to the energy needed to receive good news beyond checking it off. The opportunity to actually participate in the good news, making the needed changes (metanoia/change/repentance) takes fortitude as it usually brings forth the dreaded “suffering and death” that obscures any resurrection or next good news.