SMC – 14th Sunday of the Year 2019
As we consider chapter 10 of St. Luke`s Gospel we are reminded of how much a person of Community Jesus is. For those of us who, from time to time, or even regularly use the Rosary as a way of prayer and devotion, will be aware that late Pope Saint John Paul II introduced a fourth set of mysteries known as THE MYSTERIES OF LIGHT one of which is THE PROCLAMATION OF THE KINGDOM.
The ministry of Jesus shows us exactly what the proclamation of the Kingdom is for Jesus, throughout his three year ministry, needs and uses others to help him and work with him! As we look at the Gospels we find in the earliest Gospel, that of St. Mark in its first chapter we find Jesus choosing Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, all of whom were fisherfolk from Lake Galilee and they followed him to hear and share his teaching at the synagogue of Capernaum. By chapter 3 of Mark`s Gospel we find that Jesus had chosen 12 which has become a fraternity for mission – the Mission of the Son of God.!
Clearly, the first phase of Jesus` Mission and, indeed, the earliest church, took place in Galilee, the second phase, as it were, the sending out of the 72 messengers ahead of him in pairs to Samaria and today`s Gospel reading sets out the Lord`s Mission Programme for them.
Verse 1 tells us that Jesus sends the disciples to the places he would be visiting, those pairs of disciples become His spokespersons and they are sent in pairs allowing for mutual help and support and showing that their mission is NOT that of an individual but of the community.
Verses 2 and 3 show co-responsibility for the first task is to pray – to ask God to send labourers into His harvest. The Christian community has been born and all must be responsible for His mission. They and we too have to pray for the furtherance of Our Lord`s mission which will often be a difficult and dangerous task as witness the number of Christian martyrs in our own time.
Verses 4 – 6 again emphasise community and have to do with trusting in God and relying on the hospitality of those to whom Jesus` disciples are sent. They are instructed to take nothing with them, only the gift of God`s peace. It also shows how the Lord`s disciples are called upon to trust people and that trust in turn brings respect and hospitality. The mission for which Jesus equips his disciples is, literally, a matter of life and death.
Verse 7 says much about sharing for the disciples must not move from house to house but share in the life and work of the local people and live on what they receive in exchange for their visit for ` a labourer deserves his wages`. This brings about a desire for sharing and stability which, not long after, many monastic traditions adopted and still hold dear. This apparently new practice really recovered one of the old traditions of the people of God and criticises the culture of accumulation that was characteristic of the more well-off in the Roman Empire . Not unlike the fashionable materialism of our own times.
Verse 8 emphasises the importance of the common meal showing that the disciples must take the food and drink that they were offered. This contrast with the code of the Pharisees who always took purse and money so that they could provide for their own food. They had got into not trusting the food of the people because it might not be ritually “pure”. The observance of countless food laws and rituals became more important to the Pharisees than building a sense of the community value. Communion together and the common meal criticised the then current legal customs in favour of a new purity which came about by a mutual deepening of a relationship with God.
Verse 9a deals with welcoming the excluded as the disciples are instructed to look after the sick, cure lepers and drive out evil spirits. The were to welcome into the community those who, for ritual and other legal reasons those who were considered unclean or otherwise excluded thus showing a respect of all human beings.
The second part of verse 9 shows how hospitality, sharing, communion round the table, and welcoming the excluded were the four pillars for sustaining community life and although his had been broken by reason of poverty, unemployment, persecution and oppression under the Romans and the legalism of the Pharisees. To Proclaim the Kingdom means to restore these four pillars of community which, in turn, bear out the way in which the disciples can proclaim the Kingdom to the four winds by the people embracing a new way of living and sharing, a new way of acting and thinking based on the Good News that Jesus proclaims: God is Father and therefore we are all together brothers and sisters – the reality of the Christian Family of the Church in embryonic form.
Verses 10 to 12 have what appears to have a harsh saying concerning those who do not make the pairs that are sent out welcome: `But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into the street and say “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.”` The saying is harsh because they are not being criticised for refusing something new but rather for not accepting the restoration of the oldest tradition and values in order to rebuild the community and renew the Covenant and as such to make God the new great Good News in the life of the people.
Finally, in that paragraph consisting of verses 17 – 20 we find the 72 returning to Jesus with great joy telling of their power to cast out evil spirits. Jesus was at pains to explain to them that the power had come from Him and that the important thing was that as a result of their mission their names were written in heaven and to have one`s name written in heaven means to be certain of being known and loved by the Father.