I was watching an episode from the series, The Chosen. Jesus was adding more disciples to his travelling mission. In that scene a ruffled Simon Peter came up to Jesus and strongly voiced his opinion that the group should be more organised with leaders appointed. Behind Jesus, he said, there were a lot of differing opinions with no leader to moderate. Jesus’ reply was that it was not yet the time (but hinted that Peter would play a role when that happens). Meanwhile, he said to Peter, ‘we’ must listen to everyone.
Behind Jesus, we sometimes argue a lot too. We differ in opinions in our ministries. We differ about best approaches, methods, and expressions for the mission. We jostle for positions of importance, our ego unable to be suppressed, wanting to be the greatest. We join communities. We then leave because of differences. Jealousy, in-fighting or simply not being listened to. Yet, we all came to do something in the name of Jesus.
“But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.” (Today’s Gospel)
We are each called into mission. We are called because of who we are, maybe despite being headstrong and stubborn in our views. We are called for where we are in life; ‘where’ being the situation we are in, and the people around us. This is our immediate, unique mission field. With our naked eye, we cannot see the big picture of salvation being painted by the Holy Spirit. We are a small but important detail. Faith teaches us to trust, but the lessons of Jesus continue to refine us to be loving. Growth in being loving is an infinite process. And in today’s context, to accept and embrace differences in our work for the common mission.
Jesus assembled a motley crew to make up his twelve. They probably never understood why they were each chosen until the day of Pentecost. We too form a motley selection to be seeded far and wide into the diversity of life. We too will not completely understand until life is over for us. There are reasons for such diverse differences amongst us. Opinions can differ but they must not be allowed to set up barricades. We cannot fight and divide but pray and unite.
Eldad and Medad in the first reading did not attend Moses’ big meeting. Presumably, they would have missed out on the consensus on structures and procedures to prophesy. Despite it, they went on to do just that, prophesy, prompting a complaint. We can easily identify with the complainant when others do not seem to conform to us. But let’s hear what Moses said, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”
Behind Jesus then is not yet the organised institution of a Church in which we operate in today. Sometimes it is not yet time for a structure. Jesus was not in a hurry to hemmed it all in. Then, and now, he is in no hurry too. Outside of ‘organisation’, are ideas being initiated by the Spirit. We must listen because our world is always changing. Outside of ‘organisation’ are also works being done by the Spirit because the organised institution of the Church is not meant to contain them but to give us an organised strength to go out to mission.
Our differences make up the beautiful colours of our human nature. They are the colours the Holy Spirit use to paint the big picture of our salvation. So, let us accept each other without that silent grudge. It is hard but that is where we must start if we are all for God.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time