The Work of the Spirit!
The reading reminds us of the work of the Spirit. The first reading is from the book of Numbers, Chapter11. Israelites had lamented the absence of meat from their diet, comparing the manna and the variety of food items they had in Egypt. Moses approaches God and explains his inability to manage these people. Moses was told to summon 70 leaders to the meeting tent to receive a portion of the Spirit he had been given. Sixty-eight did go to that tent, received the Spirit, and began prophesying. Can we see something similar in the Acts of the Apostles 2? The Apostles were gathered in the upper room and the Holy Spirit came upon them. We can see so many other passages where it explains people receiving the Spirit and prophesying: like the Soul receiving the Spirit and joining the prophets (I Samuel 10:10-12). In the first reading from the Numbers, the story takes a turn. There were two leaders, Eldad and Medad, who had remained in the camp and were not in the tent. Still they also received the Spirit and began to prophesy. So, they were not among those with Moses in the tent but still received the Spirit of prophecy. When this was brought to Joshua’s attention, he wanted Moses to stop them. Moses wouldn’t because he could see that their preaching was authentic. They had the power and the authority of the Spirit of God. Moses’ assistant, Joshua, asked Moses to stop them. Moses asked Joshua, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!" and reminded Joshua gently that God is free to choose anyone He pleases as His prophet. Moses gently corrects Joshua.
This account compliments the Gospel of Mark 9:38-49. We see Jesus' response to the same kind of jealousy. Apostle John notices a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name. He said, “We tried to prevent him.” Jesus gives warning to his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion. Jesus told them, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa put it, "We are to watch with joy, not with jealousy, the many who prophesy and cast out demons, thus contributing to authentic human development." So stretch our hands in generosity.
Jesus offered lessons on servant leadership, and collaboration in ministry. He wants the apostles to rejoice in the good that others are doing, for God is the doer of all good. Jesus warns the apostle against the tendency of causing others to sin. Jesus told them to avoid whatever caused them to commit sin. Otherwise they will end up in Gehenna. It is a valley directly south of Jerusalem. Jesus refers to it 11 times to talk about hell. There are two associations made with Gehenna: 1. Greek rendering of the Hebrew place name “Valley of the Sons of Hinnom.” It was the site of a frightful Cannanite cult that worshiped the idols of Malech and Baal by burning children in sacrifice (Jeremiah 7:30-32; 19:1-6; 32:35). 2. In Jesus time, Gehenna was a smoldering garbage dump and burned continually (Matthew 5:22; 18:9; 23:34). Jesus tells us that if someone stops us from being close to Him and living in holiness, cut that person or situation away from us. The most important thing is being close to Him and doing good.
In the second reading St. James gives us practical aspects of our life. We can be good neighbors, on the other hand we can be a scandal. Jesus invites us to share our blessing with others and help each other to grow in holiness. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us so we can be a blessing to each other.
Reminder: Please join the Family of Faith on Wednesday of October 6 at 5 pm or 7 pm session. The invitation is for the entire cluster. Thank you!