14th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
Is.66: 10-14; Gal.6: 14-18; Lk.10: 1-12, 17-20
“…the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Lk.10:1-2)
Husband: Today is Sunday and I am going to enjoy it. So I bought three tickets. Wife: Why three tickets? Husband: For you and your parents.
Fr. Smith appeared at the altar with a large Band-Aid on his face. And during his rather lengthy sermon he explained: “While I was shaving this morning I was thinking about my sermon, and I cut my face.” One of the parish wits came up to Fr. Smith after the Mass and declared: “Next time, Fr. Smith, think about your face and cut the sermon.”
Today’s gospel describes how Jesus sent his disciples out to towns and villages to prepare for his visit, and gave them “travel tips” for their missionary journey. This reminds us that announcing the good news of the kingdom is not the task of only a few, but is rather a task for all.
Travel tips for the seventy-two walking witnesses on their first mission trip: While all the synoptic Gospels mention a mission of the Twelve, only Luke adds a second mission of the 72. Just as Moses selected the seventy-two elders to guide and govern his people, so Luke presents Jesus as the “new Moses” in today’s gospel. Jesus sends out his seventy-two disciples to towns and villages to announce his visit, thus giving a symbolic meaning to the number seventy-two.
The Jews also believed that there were seventy-two nations in the whole world, and they had seventy-two members in the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews. In the Book of Genesis, seventy descendants of Jacob moved with him from Israel to Egypt to begin a new life. In the Book of Exodus, seventy elders go up the Mountain of God along with Moses to learn about the new covenant. Announcing the good news of the kingdom is not something optional for a Christian.
Whom are we called to evangelize? We are not going to leave our city, town, or families to go to foreign countries. The people around us are a field vast enough for us to evangelize. We are to evangelize each other within the Christian community: Parents – to Children, Husband – to wife, brothers, sisters, relatives to each other.
The Kind of messengers that the Lord wants us to be: “Greet no one along the way.” This instruction implies that the mission was so urgent that nothing should divert the disciples from it. Do not get distracted from your work. He wants to be determined.
“Do not carry a walking staff or traveling bag; wear no sandals.” In Jesus’ day, travelers carried a stick as a defense against snakes and wild animals, and used sandals as an aid in traveling along dusty roads and rocky byways. Likewise, a change of clothing as well as food and drink were thought necessary—but Jesus forbade all these. His command was that the disciples should give up even these necessities so as to be both a living act of faith in God and “walking signs” to those who saw them.
The disciples were only armed with their faith and the name of Jesus. To bring people to Christ we don’t need money, nor human power, nor human learning but example of a true Christian life. They needed nothing more.
Acceptance and rejection: One of the reasons we prefer to delegate our Lord’s evangelistic work to priests, religious and missionaries is that we fear rejection. When by our words and lifestyles we tell others about Jesus, we sometimes find ourselves labeled as “religious fanatics,” “Bible-thumpers,” or perhaps, simply as “old-fashioned.” Many times we take the rejection personally.
So Jesus consoles us: “Let your peace come back to you.” This means, “Don’t take it personally. You have done your part, so don’t worry about the outcome.” He goes on, telling them, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” in the book of life! It is not up to us to force anyone to accept J. Our mission is to prepare the way. If a person’s heart is open, the Lord will enter in.
Christ wants us to be messengers of peace and love. We have to be peace-givers, and peace-makers. We should not be the source of quarrels and divisions. Christ wants us never lose courage: never get tired, try and try again, the person who rejected us yesterday may accept today.
Jesus tells, “To shake off the dust from their feet.” We should understand the words of Jesus well. He means to say that those who reject the Gospel do so at their own risk. Such people will be answerable to the Lord and not to us. We do our work but to accept that is up to them. If they don’t accept they have to answer.
The disciples received instructions as to how they were to carry out their mission. The basic idea behind Jesus’ instruction is that his disciples were sent as walking witnesses, and, hence, they were not to depend on anything or anybody except on the Holy Spirit of God and on divine providence.
Did you ever hear the story of the twenty dollar bill and the one dollar bill? They finally met in the US Treasury. After a long life, they had come to the end of their usefulness and were about to be destroyed. The twenty speaks, “I don’t mind. I’ve had a good run. I have been in many excellent restaurants. I’ve been on great vacations. I’ve seen wonderful theater in my day.”
Then the twenty asks the one dollar bill “How about you, pilgrim? What kind of a time have you had?” Downcast, the one dollar bill responded, “Lousy! I’ve spent most of my life at the bottom of collection baskets in Catholic churches.” We laugh at this story, but the laugh is on us. Amen.