Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara



(ISAIAH 66:10-14C; GALATIANS 6:14-18; LUKE 10;1-12,17-20

As a child growing up in a Catholic Family, there was a reoccurring drama in my family- the night prayer episodes. First it must come before nine or after nine forty-five p.m. Of course, if you lived in Nigeria in the nineteen eighties, you would understand the importance of the network news in the television by nine p.m. and seven a.m. on the radio. Also, the drama of people dozing off and repeating the mysteries, sometimes our father at the middle of a decade and the rosary falling off from their hands.

Though humorous, this is not just to amuse you but to talk about a particular prayer that my Mum always said after the rosary; the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy….” Though it sounded like a mere rhyme to me at that level, but it turned out to be one of my prayers after communion since 1995(my spiritual year) till today when I concelebrate.

Today’s Gospel begins immediately after the final verse in last Sunday’s Gospel. After strong language about the difficulties of discipleship, like the pep talk of last Sunday’, Jesus immediately appoints seventy-two people to go ahead of him to every town.

Seventy-two is a catch-all number for the whole world, so he is really sending them out to maybe certain tribes in the local area, but he has in mind that the whole world is sent out. And what are they to bring? Peace: a peace that God has given us through his love and Forgiveness in the kingdom Christ has brought. He sends them in pairs. In the Law of Moses two witnesses were needed for a testimony to be credible. It was probably also a safer way to travel.
In the first reading of today, God in his infinite goodness offers us peace like a child in her mother’s arms. Paul in the second reading, prays: “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule….” This means that peace comes when we work in harmony with the will of God. So, we must make room for peace in order that our joy may be complete in Christ. The absence of peace in any heart, family, society, or nation leaves it devastated. Peace advances our communities. Any community that welcomes peace, welcomes an opportunity for both spiritual and material prosperity. Also in the gospel, Jesus equips us with the message we must bring to our world: “Peace be with this house.” It is a gift we must offer to our world. Jesus knows very well that this is what our world needs most, and he is ever ready to let us have it.
The instructions to those sent out are direct and simple. They are really sent out without food, without distractions, without baggage, for the urgency of the task is paramount. Direct, too, is their method: to impart the blessing of peace. No second chance: if the blessing is rejected, away they go! There is a wonderful simplicity about this message of the coming of the Kingdom: all that is involved is peace. If these can remain the focus of our Christian vision, we may make some progress towards bringing the Kingdom of God to reality in our own surroundings.

My brothers and sisters, the Church draws our attention today to the need, and importance of peace in our world. She also reminds us that Christ is the source of our peace. One of humankind’s natural desire is to live a peaceful life. Ordinarily one would expect that with all the scientific discoveries and inventions in our world, that humanity would enjoy more peace and harmony. Unfortunately, it has not been so. This is because peace comes from God. So, it must be appreciated, nurtured, and preserved. When we allow this peace to flow into our hearts and guide our lives, we become fulfilled, satisfied, and our communities and entire world become a wonderful place. We are therefore called to be messengers, instruments of peace as our prayer of St. Francis says, because like joy, peace is contagious.
Peace be with you!

Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara

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