BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong at St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Omaha, USA.




1. London. God says to Israel and to us in today’s 1st reading (Is 66:10-14c): “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you”. Well, during a 6-hour flight from London Heathrow Airport, to Abuja, Nigeria, a few months before COVID-19, I sat beside a man who loved to chat. Because of the clerical collar I wore, he raised religious subjects with me. He kept making interjections into the conversations of those on the seats before us and behind us. Then there was a loud and persistent cry of a baby 4 rows of seats ahead of us. I am always very comfortable with babies. I admire their parents as they lavish love on them, which reminds me of what God does for all of us. Both Mom and Dad of the crying baby did their best to comfort the baby who even refused a pacifier. Nothing worked. More than an hour into the night flight baby was still crying. People were trying to get some sleep. The chatty man beside me got up suddenly. He went straight to the young Mom and Dad. I and other passengers watched closely. “Please give me your baby for a moment”. The Mom obliged. My chatty friend took the baby, stepped on to the middle of the aisle and began rocking the baby in his arms, with the baby close to his chest. The baby stopped crying instantly. Everyone clapped and cheered. Baby needed a bit of to and fro rocking motion. Our chatty friend rocked the baby close to his chest until baby fell asleep. And then we slept. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you” (Is 66:13) says the Lord our God in today’s 1st reading. Even the comfort of a mother can fail to be comforting enough. But the Lord’s comfort for Israel, for the Church, for the entire human family is infinite because God is our Creator in a way that surpasses the role of our parents. When the mother’s comfort fails, even a stranger, can be used by Divine providence to comfort the baby. Strangers, chatty friends, and people who appear somewhat disagreeable are being used all the time to comfort babies when the mother’s comfort fails, to protect life when the right to life of the preborn child is disregarded. The God who comforts us, is comforting everyone at this time, giving us new opportunities to care for everyone, to promote a culture of life, to defend and respect everyone’s right to life from conception to a natural death.

2. Salvation. But if natural death were the end of it all, why bother comforting anyone since it ends with tears at death? Thanks to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, as St Paul reminds us in today’s 2nd reading (Gal 6:14-18), thanks to our Lord’s resurrection, there is eternal life and happiness after this mortal life. Just as God shares His creative benevolence with our parents who are our “co-creators” with God, our Lord Jesus Christ shares His role as Savior of the world, with those who believe in Him. He sends us out to spread His message of salvation. In today’s Gospel reading (Lk 10:1-12, 17-20), He sent 72 disciples ahead of Him, in pairs, to towns and villages He would later visit, to speak peace, cure the sick and proclaim: ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Our Lord’s instructions remain relevant today. Let’s focus on 3 lessons.

3. Lessons. 1. “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few”. In the Jesus Film Project, thousands of Christians were asked why they don’t share their faith with others. The most popular response was “fear”. Is fear keeping you from reaching out to others about your faith in Christ? At least pray for more laborers to be sent, pray that your fear of God may be greater than your fear of men so you can become a laborer too. 2. “I am sending you like lambs among wolves”. Yes, as on Friday, 1st July, over 29 acts of arson and vandalism have been committed by abortion activists against churches and prolife centers in just 7 days since SCOTUS overturned Roe. 3. “Whatever town you enter, and they do not receive you…” Yes, acceptance or rejection are outcomes, with consequences for all involved. Hence, fear of rejection should not stop us from reaching out to others. And when we do, we end up with more reasons to rejoice, as the 72 who returned rejoicing. Even our chatty friend left his seat on the plane and helped the baby to stop crying. It was not certain that the parents would allow him. Nevertheless, his concern for the baby was stronger than his fear of being told “No” by the parents. May our concern for the life of all, especially the most vulnerable, make us bold and caring laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. Amen.

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