Eldad and Medad

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Proper 21 (year B), September 30, 2012
“ego trip”

John Singer Sargent, Study for Two Heads for Boston Mural, The Prophets

A young man runs to Moses complaining that Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.* These two reluctant prophets skipped the ordination. Out of protest? Humility? But the Holy Spirit not only consecrates Eldad and Medad, but bestows upon them Gifts surpassing all the other legitimate prophets. In a parallel story in Mark’s Gospel,** the disciples complain to Jesus that others not of their circle cast out demons in his name. The disciples are surprised by Jesus’ response, just as Joshua was surprised by Moses’ response. Jesus knows what Moses knows – you can’t contain or control the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, Moses and Jesus, not slaves to the ego, don’t need to possess or hoard the power of God. “That’s the thing about grace and love,” says one of our sisters, “The more you give away the more there is – there’s enough and more than enough for everybody!”

I think openness to surprise can be the beginning of the death of the ego. Not only allowing myself to be open to the endlessly changing scenes around me as I go by, but extricating myself from comforting ruts in the road of my own sense of self.

“…One must abandon every attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, a converted sinner…a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one. This is what I mean by worldliness — taking life in one’s stride, with all its duties and problems, its successes and failures, its experiences and helplessness. It is in such a life that we throw ourselves utterly in the arms of God and participate in his sufferings in the world and watch with Christ in Gethsemane. That is faith, that is metanoia, and that is what makes a man and a Christian (cf. Jeremiah 45). How can success make us arrogant or failure lead us astray, when we participate in the sufferings of God by living in this world?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Letters and Papers from Prison” (pg 226-7)

Eldad and Medad were probably as surprised as anyone. Hooray for Eldad and Medad and the eternally mysterious Spirit!


*Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29 (lectionary choice)
*Mark 9:38-50 (Sunday’s Gospel, full selection)

One Response to “Eldad and Medad”

  1. Readings Sunday 30th September 2012 « Company of Voices Says:

    […] a good meditation on this passage here. Which quotes […]

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