We hear in today’s first reading that Joshua is upset because two people who weren’t with his group, Eldad and Medad, somehow still experience the same spirit that came to rest on the group of men. Joshua can’t accept this and tells Moses to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying. Moses sees the true cause of Joshua’s concern and answers him, “Are you jealous for my sake?”
We here of a similar story of jealousy in John’s Gospel when John complains about their attempt to stop a man from driving out demons in Jesus’ name because “he does not follow us.” John presents his concern seemingly as being centered on the fact that the man was not a disciple of Christ. Jesus, however, sees that John’s concern is rooted in jealousy because the man was not part of their “chosen” group. John believed that only the Apostles had the privilege of performing such acts and couldn’t accept that an “outsider” was more successful in accomplishing a “mighty deed” than they were.
These readings remind us that jealousy can easily be stirred up in our hearts. This can be especially challenging when we find this present in our dealings with supposedly other “Christian” people who create stumbling blocks as we go about each day doing our best to live out our discipleship. Jealousy can cause much harm in the church as people seem content to watch programs and hardworking people fail simply because they don’t want other people to succeed or to take part in their success.
Jesus reminds us that discipleship is not a competition, entitlement, or honor. It simply means to do the best that we can with the gifts that God has given us AND to allow other people to do the same. As the saying goes, “Jealousy comes from counting other’s blessings instead of your own.” Jesus is telling us to cast aside our misguided notions of pride, honor, and privilege and to respect and uphold the gifts of those who work in His name. In the end, we’re all on the same team, journeying to the same place. Let us strive to always work together in His name.
Deacon Bob Laquerre