“Whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mk 9,40) With these words, Christ told his apostles, and is telling us now, that we should have a universal regard for everyone, irrespective of the unavoidable differences and conflicts we can have among ourselves.
Especially when these differences and conflicts are just a matter of personal preferences and opinion, we should not sacrifice our good relations with others because of them.
And even if these differences and conflicts concern serious matters like our core beliefs and religion, we should see to it that we don’t cut ourselves from the others. There will always be some good and positive elements that we can see in these differences and conflicts, and no matter how insignificant they are, we should take advantage of them to maintain friendship.
This is how truth is lived in charity, or the other way around, how we can live charity in the truth. This point was illustrated in that gospel episode where an apostle told Christ that he forbade someone who was driving out demons in Christ’s name because that someone did not follow them, the apostles. (cfr Mk 9,38)
That’s when Christ told them, “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.” (Mk 9,38-40)
We have to be wary of our tendency to fall into some kind of exclusivistic mentality or lifestyle. We should be open to everyone. As long as we can see that one has an earnest desire to know and uphold the truth and what is good, no matter how different from our way of knowing and upholding them or even how wrong, we should try our best to maintain good relations, since only then can we be following Christ’s example.
This kind of attitude is most relevant in our effort at ecumenism and the apostolate “ad fidem.” We have to learn how to be open-minded, flexible, tolerant in the manner Christ spelled out for us when he said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”
In this regard, we have to take extreme care in avoiding causing scandal to others. This point was again highlighted by Christ in the same gospel episode. He was quite strong in this regard.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,” he said, “it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
Scandal is when we lead others to sin. This can start with our attitude itself and can worsen with our behavior. We have to see to it that even in our internal forum, in the way we think, judge, assess, reason, conclude, etc., the good things like charity, compassion, understanding should be deliberately pursued.
Then we can expect good actions to follow, for our thoughts, desires and intentions are the mother of our actions. How important therefore it is to keep our thoughts clean, our desires pure, and our intentions full of love and compassion toward others! Our actions are just expressions of our thoughts, desires and intentions.
This is how we can live the truth in charity following the teaching and example of Christ, and thereby attain a universal outlook amid the complicated drama of our life here on earth.*