While I am preparing to leave on my vacation, I offer the following Reflection for your consideration. —Msgr. Richard
Divine logic often seems counter intuitive. What farmer would risk the lives of ninety-nine sheep to find one that is lost? What parent would reward with a celebration the profligate child who left home, squandered his inheritance, and brought shame on the family? What’s the problem with having a walking stick, for heaven’s sake, or a change of clothes or sandals when you go out to preach? And why no greetings along the way? Doesn’t the Church have enough PR problems already without adding lack of hospitality to the list? Why ask the master of the harvest for workers when he already knows we and he are shorthanded? And will it really be more tolerable for Sodom than for the town that took down the “Welcome Disciples” sign?
Understanding our Lord’s instructions to the seventy-two disciples is key to understanding the rest of this gospel and the passage from the letter to the Galatians. When Jesus tells the disciples to greet no one along the way, he isn’t suggesting that they be inhospitable but that they avoid the protracted greetings that were customary in his day and that a traveler in the region might experience even today: protracted tea ceremonies, leisurely meals with ceremonial greetings, and so forth. What Jesus does intend is to convey a sense of urgency: the harvest is ready. The work of proclaiming and building the kingdom is waiting. Every farmer knows that when the harvest is ready, you waste no time lest the crop be lost.
If proclamation of the kingdom of God is so urgent, why did Jesus rule out amenities like a walking stick, a kit bag, and sandals? Today, would Jesus nix websites, blogs, and religious broadcasting and publishing as superfluous to the new evangelization? Probably not. But what Jesus does seem to be emphasizing is that he, the Father, and the Spirit will give what is needed to the disciples whom they send.
No medium at our disposal in faith formation and Gospel proclamation can ever preclude our embodiment of the message God has entrusted to us. We are not only called to proclaim God’s love and mercy; we must also become God’s love and mercy. It is not enough that we proclaim peace and become peacemakers; we must be peace. Our Lord calls us, sends us out equipped for high profile kingdom-building, rejoices in our apostolic success, but then focuses our joy on a facet of the kingdom of God that can never be denied, diminished, or destroyed: our names are written in heaven.
With the author of the letter to the Galatians, we find our boast in the cross of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. When we immerse ourselves in that most fundamental fact, and live out of it, we become free men and women. Nothing else is ultimate, neither our successes nor our failures. What matters is that our names are written in heaven. We are known and regarded with love, by our God.
So, “let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” No more mourning over your sad and sordid past! No more fear that you will be unlucky or unloved in the Kingdom.
—John Meoska, OSB