Jul 3 2022 Reflection
Sunday 3 July 2022
First Reading: Is 66:10-14c
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
Second Reading: Gal 6:14-18
Gospel Reading: Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
Today’s Note: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
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.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
What kind of harvest does the Lord Jesus want us to reap today for his kingdom of truth, light, and righteousness? When Jesus commissioned seventy of his disciples to go on mission, he gave them a vision of a vast field that is ready to be harvested for the kingdom of God. Jesus frequently used the image of a harvest to convey the coming of God’s reign on earth. The harvest is the fruition of much labor and growth – beginning with the sowing of seeds, then growth to maturity, and finally the reaping of fruit for the harvest.
God’s word grows like a seed within us
In like manner, the word of God is sown in the hearts of receptive men and women who hear his word, accept it with trust and obedience, and then share the abundant fruit of God’s word in their life with others. The harvest Jesus had in mind was not only the gathering in of the people of Israel, but all the peoples (and nations) of the world. John the Evangelist tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Be a sower of God’s word of peace and mercy
What does Jesus mean when he says his disciples must be “lambs in the midst of wolves”? The prophet Isaiah foretold a time when wolves and lambs will dwell in peace (Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25). This certainly refers to the second coming of the Lord Jesus when all will be united under the Lordship of Jesus after he has put down all of his enemies and established the full reign of God over all the heavens and the earth. In the meantime, the disciples must expect opposition and persecution from those who would oppose the Gospel. Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin, Satan, and death by laying down his life for us as our sacrificial lamb (John 1:29), to atone for our sins and the sins of the world. We, in turn, must be willing to offer our lives with gratitude and humble service for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are called to speak and witness in God’s name
What is the significance of Jesus appointing seventy disciples to the ministry of the word? Seventy was a significant number in biblical times. Moses chose seventy elders to help him in the task of leading the people through the wilderness. The Jewish Sanhedrin, the governing council for the nation of Israel, was composed of seventy members. In Jesus’ times seventy was held to be the number of nations throughout the world. Jesus commissioned the seventy to a two-fold task – to speak in his name and to act with his power.
Jesus gave his disciples instructions for how they were to carry out their ministry. They must go and serve others without guile (free of deceit and craftiness), full of charity (selfless giving in love for the good of others), peace, and simplicity. They must give their full attention to the proclamation of God’s kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things. They must travel light – only take what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them – in order to concentrate on the task of speaking the word of the God. They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting reward or payment. “Poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision. The Lord Jesus wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves.
Jesus ends his instructions with a warning: If people reject God’s invitation and refuse his word, then they bring condemnation on themselves. When God gives us his word there comes with it the great responsibility to respond. Indifference will not do. We are either for or against God in how we respond to his word.
Our true source of joy comes from God who saves us
Why does Jesus tell his disciples to not take joy in their own successes, even spiritual ones? Jesus makes clear that the true source of joy is God, and God alone (he created us in his own image and likeness – Genesis 1:26-27). Regardless of the circumstances, in good times and bad times, in success or loss, God always assures us of victory in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). Jesus assures his disciples that he has all power over evil, including power over Satan and the evil spirits or fallen angels who conspire against us. Scripture tells us that Jesus came into the world to overthrow the evil one (John 12:31). We, too, as disciples of the Lord Jesus have been given spiritual authority and power for overcoming the works of darkness and evil (1 John 2:13-14).
God gives us his life-giving word that we may have abundant life and joy in him. He wills to work in and through each one of us for his own glory. God shares his all-powerful word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly and plainly to others. Do you witness the truth and joy of the Gospel by word and example to those around you?
Lord Jesus, may the joy and truth of the Gospel transform my life that I may witness it to those around me. Grant that I may spread your truth and merciful love wherever I go.