by Father Mike Stubbs
When someone is baptized, the priest or deacon anoints the newly baptized person with chrism and says, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.”
Those words remind us that, as baptized Christians, we all share in his calling as priest, prophet and king.
Not all of us are called to the ordained priesthood. But all of us are called to sanctify the world by the holiness of our lives. Not all of us exercise leadership in the church. Some need to be followers. But all of us are called to help establish the kingdom of Christ, by living according to his law of love.
Not all of us are called to speak on behalf of Christ. But all of us are called to witness to his teachings, at least by example. In that way, we reflect the prophetic nature of the church. By our lives, we can challenge the values of this world, as did the prophets of old.
“Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit upon them all!”
These words from Sunday’s first reading — Nm 11: 25-29 — reflect Moses’ wish that God’s grace not be limited to a select few. Moses had complained to God about his heavy responsibilities in leading the people.
In response, God instructs Moses to choose 70 elders to assist him: “I will also take some of the spirit that is on you and will bestow it on them, that they may share the burden of the people with you. You will not have to bear it by yourself” (Nm 11: 17).
When the spirit descends on the 70 elders, they react by prophesying: “As the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.” They speak out in an inspired manner, as though they are no longer in control of their bodies, but completely guided by God. But this prophesying does not last long. Moses is the prophet, the one who speaks to Israel on behalf of God. The 70 elders have received the spirit to enable them to help Moses in his duties. In that way, the elders will share in his prophetic ministry, even though they will no longer speak out as prophets.
Through baptism, all of us have received God’s spirit. Moses’ wish has been ful- filled: “Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit upon them all!” Moses’ rebuke to Joshua for his elitism has resulted in a kind of spiritual egalitarianism. God’s generosity has overflowed into abundant grace for all. But this grace has a purpose: to equip us for that mission entrusted to us by God.