The message we hear in the readings this week have been reflected into some of what Pope Francis has been talking about in the United States: the whole Golden Rule and aspects of Social Justice.
We begin in the Book of Numbers, one of the books of the Pentateuch or Torah, Before we get to the reading Moses has been told by the Lord to gather seventy leaders who will help carry the burden of satisfying all the people. So Moses gathers these seventy individuals and the Lord took the spirit upon Moses and bestowed it upon the seventy. At this time they began to prophecy. Now two of the seventy were still in town and they also began to prophecy, this caused some worry amongst the young, Joshua went to Moses to report this and that it be stopped. Moses rebuked Joshua saying are you only doing this because you are jealous that you are not one. Would the Lord bestow this gift on all his people so they should all be prophets. Then the reading ends but rest of the chapter makes the whole story for me. Earlier the people had been complaining about not having any meat for a long time so the Lord sent three feet of quails that surrounded the people and they went out for about 48 hours and collected about ten heaps. When they started eating the Lord was still angry with them so he struck the people with a plague and many of the greedy people were buried there. As we return to the Letter of James we skip a whole chapter and hear that the rich are mostly unjust these are some strong word that James has he’s basically saying that if you are rich your riches are going to do nothing for you in the next life. The rich will be standing next to the poor at final judgment and we will all be judged by what we did not how much we made or gave to the poor. James is saying that hypocrites exist in all parts of life and is a call for social justice.
Finally, we arrive at Mark’s Gospel where we pick up the reading from where we left off last week. We have a scenario like in the first reading, where there are others casting out spirits in Jesus name and John is not happy with this and tried to prevent this other from casting out spirits. Jesus says to him Don’t do that since anyone who does mighty deeds such as these can not speak ill of me. “Whoever is not against us is for us.” This is saying that anyone can proclaim Christ to the world and be prophets, we don’t need special training to do this. Sure this gets muddied in the world we live in with several denominations which exist and aren’t that happy about others. This means that we should be respecting everyone no matter what like the Golden Rule says. Pope Francis reminded us of this when he spoke to the Congress of the United States and eloquently stated it to the UN, “…all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic.” The Lord is open for everyone and who knows where they are in their spiritual journey.