Jesus tells us to go on our way. He sends us like lambs among wolves, proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand and bearing his marks.
Mission marks the followers of Jesus. He sends the Twelve (Lk 9, 1-6), but also seventy-two others. So, Jesus appoints as missionaries both those who make up his inner circle and those who do not. It is up to him whom to call and send.
One of the marks, then, of Jesus’ followers is availability to go whenever he calls them. For the owner and the lord of the harvest can come out any time looking for workers. There is no room for idleness, considering especially that the harvest is plentiful.
Jesus’ followers are also ready to go to whomever and wherever he sends them. The sending of those closest to Jesus, who stand for the twelve tribes of Israel, may suggest outreach to the Jews. That of the seventy-two others, on the other hand, indicates openness to the Gentiles. For “seventy-two” (“seventy” in some texts) sends us back perhaps to the table of seventy-two (Septuagint) or seventy nations in Gen 10.
Whether they go to the Jews or to the Gentiles, however, disciples are to have marks that show they belong to Jesus. For one thing, Christians should be believable. They need to establish the truth that they proclaim on the testimony of least two witnesses. Is this why the seventy-two go in pairs?
But more importantly, Christians are truly believable only when they show in the way they are and live that Jesus ushers in, to quote Paul VI,
a new kingdom where the poor are happy, where peace is the principle for living together, where the pure of heart and those who mourn are raised up and comforted, where those who hunger and thirst after justice have their fill, where sinners can be forgiven, where all are brothers.
Other marks of Jesus’ missionaries have to do with how they carry out their mission.
Christians need not follow literally what today’s Gospel reading spells out for us. What matters most is that we keep the spirit of the teachings, although we should not knock down those who go by the letter. There is wisdom, after all, in the observation that one who belittles external mortification, because interior mortification is better, gives oneself away. That is, such one shows oneself not mortified at all, either outwardly or inwardly (SV.EN XI:59).
And come to think of it, do not these teachings point to simplicity, humility, meekness, mortification and zeal?
Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, our sharing in your Supper marks us as belonging to you. Make us true to you, to your Supper and to our mission, bringing joy to the sorrowful and hope to the hopeless.
7 July 2019
14th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Is 66, 10-14c; Gal 6, 14-18; Lk 10, 1-22. 17-20