JESUS ALSO NEEDS EACH OF US TO BRING HIS WORD TO OTHERS
(A biblical reflection on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – 7 July 2019)
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
First Reading: Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalms: Psalm 66:1-7, 16,20; Second Reading: Galatians 6:14-18
The Scripture Text
After this 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 labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the Kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:1-12,17-20 RSV)
Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus sending seventy(-two) men to heal “in His name”. Someone who speaks or acts in someone else’s name has authority and power from that person so the actions and words of the representative become the actions and the words of the person who sent him. That’s why Jesus tells His disciples in verse 16 (a verse not in today’s reading) that whoever hears them also hears Him and whoever rejects them also rejects Him.
Exaggeration was a teaching technique rabbis often used in Jesus’ day to stress an important point. We find an example of exaggeration in today’s Gospel story when Jesus tells the seventy(-two) that they should not greet anyone on the way.
Most Jewish people readily entertained strangers because there are many instances in the Bible in which angels disguised as travelers from distant lands blessed those who showed them hospitability. Therefore, the Jews routinely offered strangers something to eat because there was always the possibility a stranger was really an angel who would bless them for their generosity.
The host often slaughtered, skinned, and then roasted an animal like a sheep or calf over an open pit or in an earthen oven, delaying the visitor’s journey by several hours. When Jesus said the seventy(-two) should not even greet anyone, He was thinking of the delay that would result if someone wanted to show them hospitality. Therefore, Jesus was telling the disciples their mission to preach the Gospel was so urgent, they were not to postpone it.
The number of men Jesus sends on this mission is also significant. In Genesis 10, we find a list of the nations of the earth. Since there are seventy-two nations on this list, the number seventy-two became symbolic of all nations of the world. Therefore, Jesus chose seventy-two men to symbolically say His followers had to preach the Gospel to all people.
When Jesus tells the seventy-two disciples that He is sending them out like lamb among wolves He is warning them that this task is not going to be easy. This means they are going to experience hostility because of the Gospel and they will even be threatened with physical harm.
The professional religious, like priests and ministers are not the only ones responsible for preaching the Gospel. Because Jesus also needs each of us to bring His word to others, our mission is just as urgent as that of the seventy-two disciples.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 296-297.)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, send me out into the harvest today. Use me, Lord, in whatever way You have planned to help bring people to know You and Your love. Amen.
Jakarta, 5 July 2019
A Christian Pilgrim