HOMILY FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: OUR DIVINE COMMISSIONING.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 3 2022
‘The Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come’.
The Gospel of today (Luke 10:1-12) is the commissioning of the seventy. Matthew and Mark also tell this story, but each of them only talk about the commissioning of the twelve disciples. Luke’s version is the only one that tells of the sending forth of the seventy. It is also the only version that describes their joyous return and their victory over evil.
Luke tells us that these seventy individuals are sent out on a messianic mission. They were to go to the cities and villages where Jesus and his disciples would soon venture themselves. They are sent on ahead of Jesus to pave the way for Jesus’ eventual visit.
We note that Jesus sends out the seventy in groups of two. Jesus sends them out two by two because it not only provides companionship for the journey, and the ability to hold up each other when the going gets tough, but it also provides a double dose of faith and wisdom to witness to others. Also, according to Mosaic law, two witnesses were required for a testimony to be credible. Every soldier has his comrade; and it is an approved maxim, “Two are better than one.” He is teaching us to associate, lend and borrow assistance when necessary.
Jesus tells the seventy that there is much work to do, but not enough people to do the work. “The harvest is great, but the labourrers are few.” He also tells them this mission will be dangerous. “I send you out as lambs among the wolves.” God gives the hardest battles to his strong soldiers. Jesus knew they would face opposition and danger in preaching a new and different message. There is also a sense of urgency in their mission. Jesus tells them to travel light. There was a rule from the Jewish rabbis that you couldn’t enter the temple area with shoes or moneybags to avoid being seen as engaging in other business than service of the Lord. Again, they are to avoid distractions. “Carry no purse, no bad and no sandals.” We all have things in our lives that we hold unto. Things that slow us down and sometimes, prevent us from moving forward. Whether it is fear, insecurity, perfectionism, past hurts or something else, if we never let them go, then we start having much baggage that we can’t carry it all. The baggage can even become something we use to justify why we can’t do what God is calling us to do. When Saul was to be proclaimed as King, the people couldn’t find him. ‘So they inquired again of the Lord, “IS there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage'” (1Sam.10:22). So many of us are still hiding among baggage.
He also tells them not to even take the time to greet anyone they meet on the road. The harvest is not only plentiful, it is also ripe. There is no time to waste. The seventy missionaries are told that they may not be successful, or well received in every town. Not everyone will be open to their message. It is normal. Today, we are fighting so hard for acceptance from everybody. You see, these seventy were going into towns where people were worshipping many false gods and they didn’t want to give up all their gods for One God. These missionaries were competing with all of these false gods.
Jesus gives us the framework for missionary work right here in his instructions to these seventy newly commissioned followers. He first tells them to bring the gift of peace to those they visit. He then tells them to heal the sick. And finally he tells them to preach the Good News that the Kingdom of God is near them. They were to teach, preach and heal, just like Jesus did when he entered a village. Our journey on earth is a divine commission. Healing is what we should bring to the people we meet. Not injury. We must learn to give peace and never trouble wherever we are. We must realise that we have no luxury of time to do the good we have to do. Giving support and a sense of companionship is very key. In a world of billions or more people, the labourers remain few. Are we part of the few hands of God on earth?
He pronounces a very heavy doom upon those that reject the gospel they preach (v. 11). The rabbinic law said that the dust of a Gentle country was defiled and must be shaken off. The territory that rejects the Gospel is to be treated like a Gentile terrible. The word of God is not an entertainment tool. It is meant to change us. It would speak against all those who have rejected it.
On their return, they rejoice that demons submitted to them. But Jesus asks them to shift focus from how many enemies defeated, many territories conquered and rather rejoice that their names are written in heaven. For what shall be our profit if we conquer the whole world but never win heaven. So it not about what we gain here, and how victorious we are against our enemies, the joy is about the heaven gained. The joy of Jerusalem will be for the children of God on their return (Isaiah 66:10-14). For now the glory is in the cross (Galatians 6:14-18). No other source of pride. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our country Nigeria, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning.
Fr. Karabari Paul