A reading from the gospel according to Luke 10:1-9
1 The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.
2 He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
3 Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
4 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.
5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
6 If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
7 Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves payment. Do not move about from one house to another.
8 Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you,
9 cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”
Pointers for reflection with commentary:
1. Jesus sent his 72 disciples in pairs, not one by one because He knows the need for companionship. We cannot successfully work by ourselves alone. We need the support of one another. We need someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on as cliché says. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I AM in their midst”, Jesus said (Matthew 18:20).
2. Pray for more laborers. This is very important. The harvest is huge in the time of Jesus and much more in our time. Let us pray for more enthusiastic and dedicated preachers and ministers because there is a lot of work to be done.
3. Jesus is sending His disciples like lambs among wolves. Witnessing to the truth is always a dangerous endeavor. Many people including prophets and priests were killed by “wolves” who are afraid of the truth. That is why, only courageous men and women take up the call to mission.
4. Carry no money, sack or sandals. Jesus is telling us to live in simplicity and honesty. He wants His disciples to depend on divine provision and not to be burdened with material things. In this way they can focus on their mission.
5. Peace to this household. Missionaries are not only bearers of truth but also of peace, the peace that only Jesus can give (John 14:27). Let us bring peace everywhere. If some people do not accept it, it will return to us.
6. Laborers deserve payment. Missionaries are workers in the vineyard and like all other workers, they too, have personal needs such as food and other necessities. Divine provision does not just fall from heaven. God uses people to give the necessary support for His disciples. May all of us be used by God for this purpose and know that He truly blesses all generous hearts. We may not all become missionaries in the real sense of the word but our support to them, monetary or otherwise, is our contribution to the unfinished work of redemption.
7. Eat what is set before you. There is no room for missionaries to be choosy especially with regards to food. Of course, if the food looks poisonous then common sense and discernment dictate that it must be rejected.
8. The Kingdom of God is at hand for you. This is the message that the disciples of Jesus will bring or spread. We will not only proclaim it but we must live it so that the people will see the message alive in us. In other words, we must witness in words and in action.
The Kingdom of God is a recurring topic in all the teachings of Jesus. It is not an abstract thing that we ought to know, debate upon and intellectualize. It is a reality although it has yet to be completed. When Jesus claims that it is at hand for us, He is saying that we can experience it now where ever we are.
Indeed, when Jesus sends His disciples to preach about the Kingdom of God, He meant it to be experienced by those who hear it and accept it. Not only that, the disciples themselves must live it by being courageous in preaching the Good News (even if they face wolf-like people), by being simple (not attached to money and other luxurious things), by promoting peace and by taking care of sick people. Imagine if each person has these characteristics. This earth will truly be a paradise.