Lately we have heard and seen the need for accep- tance of other people. I believe that we have done very well in accepting those who belong to other re- ligions or have different beliefs. If we have not al- ready done so, we should work on this. However, I see a problem in the acceptance inside of the Church herself. This is precisely the issue that the Gospel presents to us today: how we can have the same faith, but different practices. Sometimes we are more open to those with other beliefs than with fel- low believers who may be more progressive or more conservative; there is something wrong here.

This concern also applies to different groups or works inside of the church. We all pursue the same goals: the glory of God, the kingdom of God, etc…. The way each one of us engages in this pursuit should not drive us apart.

It is not logical that when we have done so much in ecumenism in the acceptance of others who are dif- ferent, we still struggle within our communities, within our Church.

The Gospel addresses this problem clearly: Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.

Notice that the reason for stopping him was not his actions, but the fact that he was not “one of us.” Do you not see something strange in that sentence. . .strange, but familiar? In our time, we can say: “But… they don’t belong to our parish, they don’t belong to our group, and we lose focus and divert our attention from what they are performing, the things they do.

Our unity cannot be determined by the group or par- ish we belong to or the way we worship, but by our deeds, by what we do. The major mistake in this case is the one that Jesus corrected: ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. The expression, “works a miracle,” refers to the effects of the persons’ actions, the fruit of their deeds.

Among all who work for the kingdom of God, there should be appreciation, admiration, imitation and respect. Because even though we are different and we can act and work differently, we all have the same goal, working for the kingdom of God. Some things we will like more than others, but we are united in our pursuit.

We have much more to learn. Often we learn from others who are indeed different, who do things in diverse ways. The great thing about our Church is precisely this diversity. As Saint Paul writes: There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people. (1 Cor 12:4-6).

– Fr. Sergio