Thirst-Slakers, Children, and Prophets
The gospel reading in Mark unites two completely different events and renders a fascinating connection. The first excerpt, or pericope, is Jesus reproving John for preventing a man who is not Jesus' disciple from casting out demons by declaring "...whoever is not against us is for us." The second pericope is taken from the context of warning his disciples not to scandalize children (the pais), or "little ones." By linking these two passages together, Mark gives the moral force of punishment for those who lead astray the least and last (those in need of healing) with the "outsider" exorcist. Remember last week when I told you that the word for child and servant was the same? Today, we get an explicit linking between the two.
The Old Testament scripture is also about cautioning against limiting God's work to only "approved" sources. Moses remonstrates Joshua of Nun for complaining that there were two outside of God's chosen seventy elders who were prophesying (Eldad and Medad). Moses asks, "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!"
These readings suggest quite clearly that the true authority does not reside in human institutions as such, but in what is done in God's name. Gospel authority is doing the will of God. Period.
How does one, then, discern who is working in God's name? Paul helps us with recognizing the "fruits of the Spirit" in " "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."(Gal.5:22-23). In a sense, when you recognize goodness, there God's Spirit is at work. The other element besides the work is time. Are these works true and good over time? The ruse never lasts; the wolf must eventually shed its sheep's clothing to breathe.
At the conclusion of all the Eucharistic prayers, the priest declares "...from whom all good things come." God is not only the source of all that is good, but God is also perfect goodness in essence. Much of what is good is apparent, but finding the Resurrection looking at the Cross can be a bit more difficult. Again, time reveals all. Given enough time, the Cross becomes the Resurrection. How long do we wait? How deep is your faith?