Readings: Is 66:10-14c; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
Author: Father Lawrence
THEME OF THE READINGS
The themes of exile, suffering, and
God´s proximity to those who suffer are the main topics
of today´s reading. The first reading gives us a maternal
portrayal of the city of Jerusalem in the days after
the Babylonian exile, as inhabitants of the city rejoice in
the return to their homeland. In that experience, the author
conveys God´s closeness to his people as a mother to
her infant. St. Paul perceives God´s closeness in the cross
he bears for the salvation of souls. His greatest satisfaction
lies in bearing it patiently as it becomes the proof
of his own configuration with Christ, even to the point
of bearing the marks of his Savior in his own
flesh. In the Gospel, the commissioning of the seventy-two magnifies
the radius of Christ´s apostolic outreach. The prosperity of this
mission trip hinges on the townspeople´s response to welcome the
disciples´ preaching as preparation to receive Christ in the flesh.
Freedom to worship. The prophets kept the consolations of God
alive in the hearts of the Jews who were exiled
to Babylonia. The prophet´s imagery meant to instill confidence in
God Yahweh, who has not abandoned them in their hopes
to return to the center of Judaism and temple worship.
The great longing within the religious man´s heart is to
be free to worship his God. When rereading the passage
from the perspective of the New Testament, the perception of
exile, and the longing for return to Jerusalem, speak of
the Christian´s need to conserve and protect an upright conscience
afforded by gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christian worship of
God can, in fact, take place anywhere, at any time,
and the ´prosperous river´ of that relationship amounts to God´s
indwelling in the human heart through the law of grace.
glory of the cross. The apostle unmasks his opponents desire
to advocate justification before God on arguments of the flesh
(practice of circumcision). For rhetorical effect, he sets in opposition
their "glory" in the flesh with his glory in the
cross. St. Paul boasts about his suffering as the mark
of his identity as an apostle. He sees his cross
as true intimacy with God. To be crucified to the
world is to live in a world that does not
understand the liberating works of grace within the human heart.
St. Paul proclaims that his people´s former ways are insufficient
to establish peace with God. The world has been crucified
to the apostle, for his message stirs consciences of the
bad and troubled to consider the fullness of truth in
Christ Jesus. At the same time Paul is crucified to
the world because he is obliged to preach this message
in virtue of his apostleship. Charles William Everest captures this
challenge in his Take up Your Cross:
Take up your cross,
then, in his strength,
And calmly ev´ry danger brave:
It leads you
to a better home
And lead to vict´ry o´er the grave.
up your cross, and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to
lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
to wear the glorious crown.
The harvest is abundant, but the
laborers are few. Christ will not do the work alone.
He summons disciples in every age who will perpetuate his
words and sacraments in a personal way. Catholicism needs the
Alter Christus to express the person of the Son in
word and sacrament inasmuch as priests personalize Christ´s invitation for
grace and friendship to the entire world. The Lord also
made the call of future ministers to the Church depend
on the Church´s prayer for laborers. In that regard, our
parishioners are to pray for their ministersthat their preaching may
not grow lifeless and dull, that their testimony via word
and action is inspiring and holy.
Christ´s disciples go out as
"lambs" in their innocence and simplicity. The demands of the
discipleship are readily apparent. The disciples travel frugally with no
extra provisions to distract them along the way; they place
their confidence in Providence. They greet no one along the
way so as not to lose a second in the
fulfillment of their mission in the assigned villages and towns;
time, for them, is to build the Kingdom of Christ.
It is hard to imagine the time frame of this
mission. The disciples share their stories of conversion and cures.
They are caught up in the Lord´s work and forget
themselves and their fatigue. The events of that mission seem
to take place in the blink of an eye. Christ´s
joy is also present in their joy as he sees
his disciples continue and multiply in a real way: the
very work that Christ himself came to do.
is not meant to be a thing to be systematically
shunned. It is not a sign of weakness or defeat.
The presence of our different crosses permit us to observe
how well we live out humility - a virtue necessary
for union with God. Following the example of Christ, we
as followers are to accept the misunderstandings, irony, and satire
from those who see Catholic belief from one side, and
respond patiently with a thoughtful and formative response. In that
way does our cross conquer what it is meant to
conquer: sin. Christ is purifying us all who carry the
cross he gives us out of love for him. We
should wear its image valiantly from our neck and apparel.
We display what we believe because, as it turns out,
we are asked more frequently today what it means to
believe in the Crucified One.
Christ continues calling larger tiers
of followers beyond the Twelve and seventy-two. The call of
Christ is more than likely present as a seed in
the heart of more than one young parishioner. Pastors and
lay people who know young people expressing a desire to
follow Christ more closely should thoughtfully challenge them to do
something with their call. Whether it be leading a Catholic
study circle or parochial ministry, a good way to maintain
that interest is to put the person to work in
the mission field.