Today’s readings challenge our expectations of religious leaders. In both the first reading from Numbers and the gospel reading from Mark, faith-filled followers tattle-tale on others for assuming to prophesy in God’s name.
It’s a funny turn that happes in these readings. Both Moses’ followers and Jesus’ disciples have been told repeatedly to honor God, to respect the teachings, to listen closely to the words. And they assume that only Moses or Jesus can be the bearers of those words, perhaps forgetting their own agency in doing so. To the tattlers’ complaints, Moses says:
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!
We often want to categorize or separate preachers or priests or prophets to a different category; separated from us by the power of their capacity to spread good news. I’m not thinking here of only religious-minded messages, but also of the rights of the poor, advocates for justice, promoters of sustainability.
Perhaps Moses’ and Jesus’ rebukes here remind us that we are all to be prophets; it is not only the job of a select few.
Kate Dugan is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back and is enjoying the colors of fall in the midwest.