Looking towards 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, our theme is evangelization. In fact, the church’s primary mission is to spread the Gospel, to share the joy of God’s love with everyone willing to listen.
The Word for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
That joy could hardly be expressed more passionately than in our first reading from the closing chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah. Here the Babylonian exile is over, and Jerusalem is again the center of God’s people, a beacon for the nations. The sheer joy expressed by the prophet has us looking to the Lord as a mother to her children. For through the Lord we shall “flourish like the grass.” In other words, as servants of the Lord, we thrive.
Our second reading concludes our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians by giving us his closing words… that we are a new creation. It matters not who we were before. The Galatians were ancient Celts who settled in the territory of what is modern day Ancyra in Turkey. They were mostly converts from paganism, with no connection to Judaism. He therefore used himself as an example, how he was one way before following Christ, but now a new person, a new creation, after having become one of his followers. He equated his scars (from various floggings, stoning, and beatings) as a symbol of his devotion to Christ, just as the “brands” many ancient pagans carried to honor their gods. It didn’t matter who you were, what you looked like, or what you believed before… because once you commit to Christ, you become something new.
Our Gospel from Luke supports both these readings in their joy of being followers and their enthusiastic acceptance of the gospel way of life. Here we have Jesus commissioning the Seventy-two. We are already familiar with Jesus commissioning the 12 Apostles, but here in a story unique to Luke, we have Jesus commissioning an additional seventy-two disciples, to go out just as the twelve did, without money or personal belongings, to heal the sick and preach the gospel. The commissioning of this larger group reminds us that as a follower of Christ, we too much go out and preach the Gospel, and like the Jews returning to Jerusalem, and the disciples returning from their mission, we will be filled with joy. Joy not necessarily for ourselves, but for others, as is a servant’s roll. Jesus did not mean for his message, his death, and his resurrection to be exclusive to just a few… he meant it to be for everyone, and we must continue to spread that message, if through nothing else, through our actions in our love for God and for one another.