September 23, 2021
Both the first reading from the Book of Numbers and the Gospel passage from Mark indicate that “those who are not against us, are for us.” A young man reports to Moses that Eldad and Medad are prophesying despite the fact that they had not been gathered with the 70 elders to receive some of the “spirit that was upon Moses.” Joshua (who had been with Moses from his youth) urges Moses to stop them. Similarly, James and John (who are, with Peter, in Jesus’ inner circle) complain about someone who is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Like Moses, Jesus is not the least bit interested in stopping someone who is doing good, even if the person is not part of “the group.”
Over the years, I have collaborated in ministry—most often ministry directed to the poor and disadvantaged—with people of different faith or of no faith at all. All of us had common cause in the care of those who needed help. I have often thought of Jesus’ words that the one helping—out of religious motivation or not—will not lose his or her reward.
There are many areas of life where “people of faith” can form partnerships with those who would not consider themselves “people of faith”: care for the poor, preservation of the environment, promotion of safe neighborhoods, etc. Perhaps in these collaborative efforts we might hear another saying of Jesus: “It is not those who say ‘Lord, Lord,’ but those who do the will of my heavenly Father” (Mt 7:21).