“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.”

Mark 9:41 

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Mark 9:38-43, 47-48 

Human beings are limited. We do not really like to admit this but, in so many ways, we are. Our love is limited too. So often, we might say we love someone deeply and completely – and indeed we might believe this – but we will discover that even our best attempts to love are limited. We do many things (we think!) freely, but, so often, we do hope for a return, even if that is not a conscious decision. 

In his Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius Loyola tries to help us recognise the limits to our love and, despite this, the limitless love of God. He puts this in stark contrast before us. He helps us understand the dynamic: our limited love vs God’s boundless love. There are no boundaries, we discover in the Spiritual Exercises, to Divine Love. Furthermore, Ignatius helps us understand that God’s love cannot be earned or manipulated. It is freely and infinitely given. 

As we learn and grow in the spiritual life – like Jesus’ disciples are doing in this week’s text – we too are invited to unlearn the all too human tendency of “budgeted love” and embrace the generosity of limitless love – the love that God alone offers. We live in a world of imperfections and tilted structures. From young we are subconsciously given the message that love must be earned or that we must behave in a certain way to be loved. Sad as this is, it is the experience of many people, often only realised later on in life. We can hold the same idea about God – that we have to earn God’s love. This is untrue. God’s love is not earned. There is no “budget”. God’s love is free and infinite. 

Jesus, in this Scripture scene and throughout the Gospels, tries to teach his closest companions that there are no “in-groups” or “out-groups” when it comes to God. All are invited into the free and infinite love of God – no matter who they are. All are invited to “belong to Christ” – to live in God’s love.  

Do you really believe that God loves you (and each human person) limitlessly and infinitely?

Lord God,

We live in a world where, so often, we think that we have to earn love by behaving in certain ways. Sometimes this is affirmed when, in our human relationships, we are told and believe that we need to behave in certain ways to be loved. You love us, limitlessly and infinitely. Give me the grace this day to experience your limitless, unconditional love


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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