Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”

Mark 9:39-40 

Monday, 27 September 2021

Mark 9:38-43, 47-48 

Competition is innate in human beings. We all want to think that we have the “extra edge” and, often, will go to whatever ends we think we need to in order to keep ahead.

John was not unlike us, he too thought that, somehow, when it came to good, he and the other disciples of Jesus had the edge. He thought that the good they could do was somehow better than the good that others could do in the name of Jesus. Jesus reminds him, when he comes back to report what they had done, that when people do good, not matter who they are, they shouldn’t be stopped.

But there is also something else this passage invites us to examine. Often we hold limiting beliefs about ourselves, sometimes so extreme that we do not open ourselves to growth at all. On the other hand, as we discover in this scene in Scripture, we can hold limiting beliefs about the abilities of others.

John not only could be thinking competitively but he could too be holding onto limiting beliefs about others. Jesus tells John that he should let go of his need to be “the only one” that can do something, but he also invites John to let go of the limiting beliefs that he (and his companions) has of others.

Sometimes, like John, we may not be conscious of the competitive streak we have or the limiting beliefs we hold. If we become aware of these tendencies within us, then we can begin to challenge them and recognise the potential damaging effects these can have on us and others.

I wonder if that was what Jesus was trying to do? Trying to help John – and his companions – to become conscious of their competitive streak and their limiting beliefs? Notice too how Jesus, not only making them aware, also encourages them to adopt a new perspective, a new belief, and put that into practice. He says “no one who performs a mighty deed in my name can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us”. Perhaps this was something that John had never thought about?

Take some time today to ask for the grace to be conscious of how the competitive streak in you, and limiting beliefs about others and yourself, may hinder you from become the person God wants you to be. Write them down. Ask the Lord to help you grow.

Lord Jesus,

You challenge us to let go of all that hinders us from become the people you know we can be. Help us, this week, to become aware of the competitiveness that lives in our hearts and the limiting beliefs we cling to about ourselves and others. We want to be the people you invite us to be.


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. @rpollittsj
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