In the twentieth Century, Karl Rahner and the neo-Thomists believe that the totality of the universe is already graced by God. Their belief has substantial and scriptural basis, because the God of creation, is the God of revelation, who has put the seal of his existence within the created order. This is attested to by the Psalmist, when in Psalm 8, he says: “O Lord our God, how awesome is your name through all the earth!” In Psalm 19, he says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder’s craft.” The letter to the Hebrews begins by saying that in times past God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). All these are true. God has revealed himself in nature, through natural law. He has also made a positive revelation of himself in our salvation history, and last of all through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Many times, we forget these facts. For that reason, we ask people who preach about God to stop because they do not do so the way we do, and they do not pray the way we do. We can only be concerned, if their way goes contrary to the basic principle of love. If their way is against love, we will know that they are not of God. The reason is because God is love, and he who abides in love, abide in God and God in him (1 John 4:16).
In our first reading today, we see how the Lord took some of the spirit that was on Moses and bestowed it on the seventy elders, resulting to their prophesying. Two men, Eldad and Medad also received the spirit even in their absence in the gathering, while in the camp. They also prophesied in the camp. Joshua the son of Nun asked Moses to stop them. In his reply, Moses expressed how he wished the Lord were to bestow his spirit on them all (Numbers 11:25-29).
The same thing is observable in our gospel reading today, John told Jesus how a man who was not of their number was using his name to expel demons, and they tried to stop him. In this case, Jesus’ reply was that they should not stop him, because no man who performs a miracle using his name can at once speak ill of him. Continuing, he says that anyone who is not against them is with them (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48).
In this case, it is the Spirit of the Lord who blows where he wills that uses anyone created in the image and likeness of God. It is the God of the universe who fills all people with love, the manifestation of his presence. For this reason, Jesus tells his apostles that anyone who gives them a drink of water because they belong to him will not go without his reward. They should not lead astray anyone who believes, and should avoid anything that would constitute difficulty, in order to enter into the kingdom of God.
Among the things that constitute difficulties and obstacles for entry into the kingdom of God are Satan, sin and death, including worldly things, creatures, the flesh and its sensory pleasures. The spiritual writers of the Church have pointed these out for us, for our spiritual nourishment and growth. Jesus wants us to cut these out, so that we can enter into God’s Kingdom.
In his letter, St. James has come out in condemnation for the rich, who have worshipped creatures, rather than the creator. They have replaced God with their riches, violating his rules of love, and taking advantage of others, thereby making material wealth, their gods and idols. He asks them to weep and wail over their impending miseries. By so doing, they live in wanton luxury on the earth. They have fattened themselves for the day of slaughter (James 5:1-6).
As Disciples of Christ, we must encourage goodness everywhere, out of love of God and love for humanity.