14th Sunday in Ordinary time, 03/7/2022 Lk 10, 1-12, 17-20
Whether Jesus knew that his disciples would abandon him or not when he was crucified, he chose to send his them out on mission early. He knew they did not fully understand everything: who he was, what he had come to do and why. Yet they would have been able to speak well about his goodness, his openness and his emphasis on the love of God for everyone as well as talk about his parables and stories, his healing and his teaching. They would have spoken about the uplift and affirmation Jesus gave them, of what his love and friendship meant to them and of his openness to all, especially sinners.
Sent out with orders to take nothing extra for the journey is another way of asking the 70 disciples to place their complete trust in him. Asking them to trust the people of the villages that welcomed them was a concrete way of doing this. In their turn the villagers who welcomed the disciples would have recognised that they trusted them completely.
Jesus wanted them to stay focused on their mission and not get side-tracked. He also wanted to emphasise the importance and the urgency of the good news they were delivering.
The number 70 (or 72 as in other gospels) was understood to be the number of nations in the world, making it clear that the message of the Kingdom being very near is a message for everyone, for every nation in the world.
What is too easily forgotten is that, in asking the disciples to trust fully in him, Jesus was also showing that he had complete trust in them to fulfil the mission he had given them. The joy of their experience is proof of the importance and value of this trust. So joyful were they that there is no mention of any village not welcoming them or of them shaking the dust from their sandals.
Jesus then reminds them that, through this trust, God is able to work through them. For them as for us, all that we do in the name of Jesus reveals the way the God works through us not what we have achieved.
Pope Francis: "When the Lord wants to give us a mission or a task, He prepares us and He prepares us to do it well… It is always up to God to balance the extremes of human strength and fragility, observing how often times we can be courageous servants of God one moment and afterward become depressed when someone in our mission frightens us… The Lord prepares the soul, prepares the heart, and He prepares it in trial, in obedience and in perseverance… When the Lord gives a mission, He has us enter into a process of purification, a process of discernment, a process of obedience, and a process of prayer.
Let us pray that the Lord will give us the grace to prepare every day so that we can bear witness to the salvation of Jesus."
by Fr Thomas O'BRIEN a.a