‘In Yahweh descended in the cloud. He spoke to him and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the spirit came on them they prophesied – but only once.Two men had stayed back in the camp; one was called Eldad and the other Medad. The spirit came down on them; though they had not gone to the Tent, their names were enrolled among the rest. These began to prophesy in the camp. A young man ran to tell Moses this. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses since he was a boy, spoke up and said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them!’Moses replied, ‘Are you jealous on my account? If only all Yahweh’s people were prophets, and Yahweh had given them his spirit!’
“If only all Yahweh’s people were prophets, and Yahweh had given them his spirit!”
Moses pronounces something that is deeply desirable. All the People of Israel and all men in general should be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, as the prophecy of Joel says: “After this I shall pour out my spirit on all humanity. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old people shall dream dreams, and your young people see visions. Even on the slaves, men and women, shall I pour out my spirit in those days.” (Joel 3:1-2).
This is what God has foreseen! In eternity it will be like this. All will recognize God and praise him in one Spirit.
But what is the situation here on earth?
Every day we ask in the Our Father that the Kingdom of God come and that His Will be fulfilled in Heaven and on Earth. When these great petitions come true, we can live in that peace and unity that we long for in the depths of our being, and we experience already here in our earthly life a reflection of what will be in eternity.
In his letters, St. Paul speaks about unity in the Spirit and exhorts the Christian communities to preserve it (cf. Eph 4:1-6). Indeed, this unity is a living sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who should fill all Christians and in whom all have a share. Unity is a gift, which has its foundation in God. It does not give rise to an impersonal uniformity; rather it creates a delightful diversity, in one Spirit. Here is fulfilled something of what Moses expresses when he says, “If only all Yahweh’s people Yahweh had given them his spirit”
Today’s reading, as well as the Gospel of the day (Mk 9:38-43,45,47-48), indicates to us that we should not place limits on the Spirit of God, when it manifests itself differently and in circumstances different from what we would have expected.
For us Catholics, this means concretely that he not only manifests himself in our Church – that is, among those who are already “among us” – but that he also acts, according to his free choice, in other people. Therefore, it is important that we know how to identify the action of the Spirit, applying the discernment of spirits.
Although with good reason we long for and ask that all people come to the Catholic Church, so that the words of the Lord that there will be “one flock and one shepherd” (cf. Jn 10:16) may be fulfilled, we do not know which path and when the Holy Spirit will choose. It is up to us to docilely follow His guidance, so that He can accomplish His work through us.
Now, although this broadness of the Spirit is necessary, so as not to limit His action with our narrowness, we must at the same time carefully discern whether the one who is working is really the Holy Spirit or not.
Therefore, the breadth of spirit does not exempt us from cautiously applying the discernment of spirits, so that we can clearly distinguish where the Holy Spirit works, where man acts, or where there are even Luciferic influences.
Let us take a concrete example:
The current President of the United States declares himself a Catholic. However, when it comes to the right to life of unborn children -whose defense should be a central point for all Catholics-, he turns out to be a radical promoter of the culture of death, promoting the great injustice of abortion. As a Catholic and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he should clearly note that he is flagrantly attacking the Commandments of God and the doctrine of the Church. It is evident that here someone is acting against the intentions of the Holy Spirit.
His predecessor, on the other hand, although he did not belong to the Catholic Church, promoted the right to life of the unborn, which is certainly a work of the Holy Spirit.
So, regardless of personal sympathies and other political aspects, we can see that, on this primary issue of the right to live, the former President of the United States, although not a member of the Catholic Church, was much closer to the truth than the current President, who declares himself a Catholic.
In these times we are in great need of the spirit of discernment, to recognize the working of the Spirit wherever it manifests itself, and to perceive clearly where a different spirit is at work.