Sunday, September 27, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

In the Book of Numbers, a part of Moses' spirit was taken from him and poured out over seventy elders and they began to prophesy.

Two elders (Eldad and Medad) were not present, but they were on the list, and they, too, began to prophesy.

Instead of rejoicing at this blessing, Joshua, son of Nun, complained: “Moses, my lord, stop them.”

Similarly in the Gospel, John complained to Jesus: “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”

What is the matter here? Why do Joshua and John have a problem? Is it jealousy? Are they that concerned with a lack of proper form – "two weren’t present in the tent" and this "someone doesn’t follow us"?

Is it a question of territory or power or control? Whatever is going on clearly was of no concern to God, Moses or Jesus. Moses didn’t stop them.

"Are you jealous?" he asks. Moses rather expresses the wish that God’s spirit would be bestowed on even more people.

Jesus did not stop this someone who was driving out demons. On the contrary, he confirms that simply acknowledging his name validated his ministry: "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."

You can’t get more open or liberal than that.

Sadly, territory was and continues to be an issue to people, especially in the church. Power was and continues to be an issue to people, especially in the church. Jealousy was and continues to be an issue to people, especially in the church.

Perhaps rather than worrying so much about what someone else is doing (especially if it is good), we should not just listen to but actually hear the word of God today.

Perhaps we all ought to invoke the name of Jesus more often – do things in his name.

Perhaps we would find that our words and actions and desires were more valuable and blessed when they were rooted more deeply in Christ. That could never do us harm.

And if we were indeed more deeply rooted in Christ, perhaps we wouldn’t need to pay too much heed to the warning that Jesus speaks at the end of today’s Gospel.

Perhaps we would never cause one of these little ones to sin if our lives and actions were focused deeply on Christ.

It almost sounds like preventative medicine – stay connected, rooted, united, close to Christ.

"Amen, I say to you, (you) will surely not lose (your) reward."

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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