Where to start? So many contemporary themes and threads weave their way through the scripture readings for today’s Eucharistic celebration. These are themes that poignantly challenge us in our own day. Let’s look at a few.
First, how dare Eldad and Medad in the first reading from the Book of Numbers begin to prophesy when they were not in the tent when the spirit descended on the other seventy. This really upset some of the people who complained to Moses, “Moses, my lord, stop them.” But Moses answered, “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow God’s spirit on them all!” I wonder who we would complain about “not being in the tent when the spirit was giving out the gift of prophesy?”
Then in the second reading from the Book of James we read this: “The wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.” We profess our faith in Jesus yet mistreat or tolerate the abuse of others and say, “Thanks be to the Lord that we are not like them.”
And from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus chastises one of his favorite disciples, John, who complains that others not of the inner circle are preaching in Jesus’ name. More of the same…we are the chosen, not them. Jesus does not go for it.
We spend so much useless energy debating who’s in and who’s out. Who’s one of us and who is not, who looks like us and who doesn’t, or who speaks our language or not. We spend so much useless time demonizing others and not seeing our own insecurities and hurts that we cover over with riches or privilege. We are all children of God called to be welcoming and generous with all we encounter. To be a believer in Jesus and the Gospel is to include not exclude.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.