Scripture: Lectionary 138 . 26th Sun.B. Sept.30: Numbers 11:25-29. Psalm 19:8.10.12-13.14. James 5:1-6. Mark 9:38-43.45.
Moses teaches all ages about the importance of tolerance for one another. The passage is one of the most powerful in the Scriptures showing how leadership needs to be open to the Spirit who delegates others to share in the prophetic spirit of their leaders like Moses, the firs of the greatest prophets and leaders. We see Moses once again in contact with God not on the mountain but on the plain near the tent and within the camp. God allows the spirit that is in Moses to be shared by seventy others. Two, however, who were to be included did not show up at the designated place yet they received the spirit.
Joshua, the successor to Moses, complains about their being part of the seventy who became prophetic sharers in the leadership of Moses. Moses insists that they too are to be included since the spirit has come upon them. They are part of the elders being called to help the whole congregation of Israel. They are important for even their names are mentioned—Eldad and Medad. God is not outdone in his generosity of sharing his power and love through his Spirit. The people will now be served and listened to in their needs and concerns. God inspires good leaders to follow the example of the great Moses. He will help them to discern in the future who are the ones designated as a true prophet. In this instance, it is God who works through Moses to confirm the 70 as well as the two brothers.
This scene reminded me of the even larger number of people gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus had died. They number over 120 and are the followers of Jesus, his apostles, his kindred, and his friends both men and women. Mary, his mother, is also mentioned for she had already experienced the descent of the Holy Spirit upon her at the birth of Jesus. Now as the Church is being born, she is there and is named. She is the Mother of the nascent Church. Luke is continuing the story of Jesus through the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Those assembled are the first to be the assembly gathered in Jesus’ name. They like the seventy become seventy-two through the addition of Eldad and Medad will serve the members of those who come into the Church. They, too, are servant leaders modeled after God’s plan.
In the readings we see the unity and peace of the Creator, the Word, and the Spirit in work among the people in pointing out the gift of leadership and prophecy. Our Psalm emphasizes the word of God within the Torah given by Moses and honor it with each verse and stanza in this marvelous wisdom Psalm 19. Precepts, ordinances, and commandments are praised because they give unity and peaceful cooperation among those who hear the word of God and keep it. Moses did, Mary did, and so did the 72 and the 120 people who gathered in God’s name. Unity and Peace are signs of leadership cooperating with God’s Spirit. Prophet, Priest, and King are to foster such leadership.
Jesus too preaches tolerance by telling his disciples that if someone who does not belong to their following performs works similar to theirs and his, this person is not to be rejected. God’s works are innumerable and work so differently from ordinary human works. That is why Moses was able to accept all who had the spirit breathed within them as prophets and why the group gathered in the upper room felt and were move to do God’s will through the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them.
And if people do good in his name the spirit is also there. We have therefore a great lesson in today’s readings about the tolerance of great leaders and the tolerance we should have in dealing with one another no matter what color, race, language, or religion we belong to. All were created in the image and likeness of God once the spirit breathed upon them. There is no limit to God’s power and spirit working within each of us. To recognize this is to create a step toward peace and unity. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.