Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 3, 2016
Reading 1 Is 66:10-14c
Responsorial Psalm Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
- (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. Reading 2 Gal 6:14-18
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
Homily— July 2 & 3, 2016
The Gospel of Luke today begins with the appointment of seventy-two others who Jesus sends out ahead of him to prepare the people for his visit. Luke quite often presents Jesus as a prophet like Moses, and like Moses, Jesus appoints “the seventy” just as Moses appointed 70 elders. As Moses began something new, so does Jesus. I looked at four different Bible translations and all but one said Jesus sent forth 72, the other said 70. When I consulted a Biblical Commentary it stated that there was no clear case for one number over the other in translating from the original text.
You can look at the number of 70 or 72 as a number used by Luke to represent all the nations of the world. Luke writes his whole Gospel around the journey of Jesus from Bethlehem to Nazareth to Capernaum and finally to Jerusalem. With Jesus’ turn toward Jerusalem, the reality of His passion and death looms. Knowing this, when sending His disciples to announce His coming to villages on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus creates a sense of urgency in their mission. The “harvest” is often used when speaking of the end times. There is work to be done, and it is to be done now and without delay: “Greet no one along the way.” This instruction was not a call to be rude; it was a reminder that the urgency of the mission leaves no room for distraction. Stay focused on the task.
Jesus tells the disciples, “Eat and drink what is offered you.” To do this would probably mean violating Jewish dietary law. Jesus offered something new in order to accomplish the mission of announcing the Kingdom. Also His mission was too important to waste time on amenities. Carrying neither moneybag nor sack meant to travel light and fast. It was also an expression of trust that, through believers, God would take care of the disciples.
Where are today’s converts to the Church, to the Kingdom coming from? Seventy-five percent of new church members come as a result of a personal invitation from a member of a parish. Our Church presumes that we are listening to today’s passages as disciples. We are now “the seventy” who must understand the sense of urgency to call people to faith. We are the ones who are to announce the Kingdom. We are the ones who, like the seventy, must offer the invitation to follow Christ.
Our message is to be one of joy. Isaiah spoke of the intimacy of relating to God as a child being nursed by its mother. Jesus wants this intimate love of God to be the message. We are to invite people in. If they accept, Satan falls from the sky. If they don’t we move on. We must be workers on the front lines issuing the invitation.
Sometimes we have the opportunity to witness to someone who has no faith. Other times we may witness to someone who has become inactive maybe through sickness, being “too busy”, or for some reason feeling hurt or unwelcome.
As workers in the vineyard our fruitfulness is measured by presence, proclamation, and perseverance in pursuit of Jesus’ mission which brings about the “kingdom of God.” We must shake off the dust of the temptation to quit when facing difficulties or opposition, the dust of discouragement when there seemingly is no fruit for our efforts, the dust of indifference or ignorance. What keeps us present and faithful is a growing awareness that we do not labor alone or in vain. Jesus is with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us “not to rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
I appreciate the example and teaching of Pope Francis and Archbishop Jackels as they lead us as a faith community. They teach us about mercy and about living our faith. Dorothy Day wrote that “We cannot live alone. We cannot go to heaven alone. Otherwise, as Peguy said, God will say to us, ‘Where are the others?’