Gospel Reflection July 3 – Sr. Teresa
Sunday, July 3
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
When I was in High School, I belonged to CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). It was a parish/national program for youth across the country. We had a theme song that excited and motivated us to be disciples. Imagine over 1000 teenagers acting as convention delegates from their parish CYO from across the United States gathered together. We always ended the yearly convention by singing this song over and over again!
An army of youth flying the standards of truth.
We’re fighting for Christ the Lord.
Heads lifted high Catholic Action our cry
and the cross our only sword.
On earth’s battlefield never a vantage will yield
As dauntlessly on we sing
Common truth, dare and do, ‘neath the Queen’s white and blue
For our faith, for our flag, for Christ the King!”
To say we reached a fevered pitch would be an understatement. The gathering of so many, the speakers, the music and the song electrified us. In many ways it sent us forth with our hearts set on fire for the Lord. We were ready to go out and spread the message.
Today’s passage is about another “sending forth to spread the message of Jesus.” We often limit the number of Jesus’ disciples to the twelve apostles but there were so many more. Today we hear that Jesus chose 72. He sent them out to “spread their wings,” so to speak. He was preparing them to take over his work when he would not be on earth.
The number 72 (or in some translations 70) is significant. 72/70 was the number of nations of the world, according to Genesis 10. Seventy was also the number of individuals that Moses appointed to be the elders of Israel (Numbers 11:16-17). Luke is implying that Jesus intended his message to be spread to all nations and all peoples.
Jesus is not sending them out cold turkey. He has a plan for them to follow. When we read the plan, we might wonder why anyone would agree to do this.
Jesus warns them that they will be outnumbered and outpowered. He is sending them like lambs before wolves. They are not to carry any money, no extra provisions in a sack, and they are not to wear sandals. He tells them not to stop and talk to others on the way but rather to go right to the villages where he was sending them. Everything Jesus is telling them is to emphasize the urgency of spreading the word. The time-consuming formalities and customs of greeting are to be dispensed with so that they may continue swiftly on their way. Luke has created a sense of urgency on this journey to Jerusalem, which will be Jesus’ last journey.
The message they are to communicate is ‘PEACE.’ Peace is at the core of Jesus’ message of salvation. By declaring ‘peace’ to the households, these disciples are announcing the presence of God’s Kingdom and the blessing of God poured out upon them.
Jesus tells them that sometimes this remarkable gift of ‘peace’ will fall flat. It will be rejected by some; ignored by some; fought against by some and feared by some because it would mean too many changes in the way they had grown comfortable living. They did not want to change their lifestyles. Jesus tells them when this happens, move on, shake the dust from their feet and go to others with the same message. However, when the message of peace is accepted, then linger in that household and nurture the message. The 70/72 disciples did as Jesus asked, and when they returned, they told of the great success they had on their “trial” missionary journey.
SO!! What does it all mean for us? All during Lent, Jesus has been preparing the disciples (that includes us) to be able to carry on his work here on earth. In each of the post-resurrection appearances he left us promises; on the Feast of the Ascension, he promised to send the Holy Spirit and on Pentecost that promise was fulfilled. In the past few weeks, we have focused on the gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist: the gift Jesus himself gave everyone and the gift we receive, not because we are worthy but because we are hungry. We need the nourishment and the grace of this most awesome gift if we are to be strong enough to be his disciples.
There is an urgency for the message of PEACE to be taken to our world today. It must be peace for all people, not just for some. Many do not want to hear that message. It doesn’t fit into their lifestyle or their power structure. They do not want their opinions and actions to be confused with the facts. Sometimes we do not want our lives challenged by the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus. Sometimes it is easier to keep our heads down, our eyes to the ground, and our ears closed, than it is to see and clearly hear the cries of the poor, the cries of injustices and inequities permeating so much of the world.
There is an urgency facing our planet. Many choose not to believe this despite the undeniable evidence facing us. It is easier to keep our heads down, our eyes to the ground, and our ears closed, than it is to see and clearly hear the cries of the earth. Easier to turn away than to collectively deal with the vast complexities of climate change facing the planet and humanity or admit our complicity in the problem.
There is an urgency facing our Church and almost all organized religions. More people are dying and/or leaving the religions of the world than committing to them. The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the US population and one-third of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated with any organized religion. A high percentage of those who do profess an affiliation say that it is often a loosely committed relationship, and one they often take for granted. That should be of great concern for us, but it is easier to keep our heads down, our eyes to the ground, and our ears closed, than for each of us to nurture our faith and to take our responsibility of being a disciple seriously. Each of us has been sent to bring the message of Jesus to others. To not just be a disciple who sings and prays about discipleship in the safety of our Church (Temple or mosque) buildings but to take the message of God’s peace to all people (sometimes we will be like lambs before wolves). I wish the Sundays after Pentecost were not called Ordinary Time. They should be called Missionary Time because with the coming of the Spirit also came the mission to go out to all nations and proclaim the Good News. Perhaps we could revive that old song.
An army of youth flying the standards of truth. We’re fighting for Christ the Lord.
Heads lifted high Peace is our cry and the Gospel our only sword.
On earth’s sacred land never a vantage will yield. As dauntlessly on we sing:
Common truth, dare and do, ‘neath the Queen’s white and blue.
For our faith, for peace, for Christ the Lord!”
Go live and spread peace.
Sister Teresa Tuite, OP