Sybil 2008

Gospel text

Luke 10: 1-20

1 After these events, the Lord announced a selection of other disciples, seventy-two in number, and sent them two by two to go before him into every town or place where he planned to go. 2 And he said to them, "Truly, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So ask the harvest manager to find out workers to harvest. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take with you any purse or baggage or sandals, and on the way do not linger to greet anyone.

5 Moreover, wherever you enter a house, first offer the evangelical peace. 6 And if there is someone open to this peace, you will be in a relationship. Otherwise, there can be no relationship. 7 Then stay in that house, eating and drinking what they offer you, for a worker deserves his wages. Avoid going door to door.

8 If you go to a city and they welcome you, eat what they offer you. 9 And heal the sick, telling them that the world of God has begun to reach them. 10 But if you go into a city and are not welcomed, after you have left, say, 11 We shake off even the dust of your that sticks to our feet (to keep nothing from you), yet you must know that the world of God is about to reach you.

12 I tell you that Sodom on the Day of Judgment will have a better fate than this city. 13 I pity you, Chorazin, I pity you Bethsaida, for if the same marvelous deeds had happened in the pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon, they would have long ago put on the garment of mourning and turned their lives around. 14 Therefore the fate of Tyre and Sidon on the Day of Judgment will be more tolerable than yours. 15 But you, Capernaum, do you think that you will know great honors? You will be cast into the world of the dead.

16 The person who accepts your words also accepts my words, and the person who rejects them also rejects mine. And the person who rejects me also rejects Him whose emissary I am.

17 Afterwards, when they returned, the seventy-two expressed their joy: "Even the demons submit to us when we call on your name. 18 Jesus replied, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 For I have given you the power to overcome serpents and scorpions and the forces of the enemy, so that nothing can harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice that you are enrolled to live in the world of God.

Studies

The mission of some is to "compel", what is ours?


Gospel commentary - Homily

What mission are we talking about?

In June of 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing individual states to repeal abortion rights to varying degrees. The six conservative justices can say: mission accomplished! This is especially true of Donald Trump appointee Amy Coney Barrett, who comes from a devout Catholic family, whose father is an ordained deacon; she published in 2006 in an Indiana newspaper, "We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death. Please continue to pray for an end to abortion." Now, in the Supreme Court, Ms. Barrett has all the power required to accomplish her mission, and criminalize those who engage in abortion. This is the framework in which I propose to meditate on today's gospel.

This gospel is really about mission. After the missionary sending of the Twelve to the Jewish communities, Luke, who addresses his gospel to people who are mostly Greco-Roman, feels the need for a special mission for them, and therefore tells of the sending of 72 missionaries, the number of nations in the world, according to the Greek version of the text of Genesis 10. These missionaries are to precede Jesus. Why is this? The risen Jesus is only accessible through his witnesses, us. But what is most important in the Gospel account is the advice to the missionaries: "Do not take with you any purse, baggage or sandals". These are images to describe a state of total poverty. This is summed up by the image of the defenseless lamb before the rapacious wolves. Why should we insist on this point? Is there a connection with the content of the mission? By the way, what exactly is this mission?

All that the Gospel tells us about mission is this: "In whatever house you enter, offer first the peace of the Gospel". Yet this is how Jesus sums up his mission when he weeps over Jerusalem: "Oh, if you too had understood the message of peace on this day! But no, it has remained hidden from your eyes" (Lk 19:42). And it is this peace that the risen Jesus offers to his disciples when he meets them (Lk 24:36). What kind of peace are we talking about? The evangelist John tells us that the risen Jesus, after having offered peace to his disciples, breathed on them with these words: "Receive the Holy Spirit". To offer peace is to offer the world of the Holy Spirit, it is to offer the world of unconditional love

Many have accepted the mission of unconditional love. When parents care for a child with a rare disease, or who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, or who is hyperactive and has attention deficit disorder, have they not accepted the mission of unconditional love? When a spouse accompanies his or her spouse who is dying of Alzheimer's disease, have they not accepted the mission of unconditional love? When an orderly or a nurse accepts overtime despite being tired, thinking of all those people who need care, have they not accepted the mission of unconditional love? When we forgive those who have hurt us, when we give to those who have given little, when we give up what is owed to us so that someone else may grow, have we not accepted the mission of unconditional love?

But there is something incompatible with unconditional love: power, compulsion. That is why Jesus sends his missionaries out like lambs in the midst of wolves. The wolf has the power of his teeth, not the lamb. The means used for the mission say something about the mission. If Jesus asks us to go on mission as poor people without power, it is because this already reflects a dimension of unconditional love. Just as a parent can only cry at a child who refuses a caress, so unconditional love can only love even if there is no return. This is the path Jesus took, even if it led him to the cross. But there is no other way to the resurrection and transformation of our world.

I know that in many Catholic circles the U.S. Supreme Court ruling will be celebrated. But what is clear in my mind is that this has nothing to do with evangelical mission; it is at most the last gasp of a Christianity bent on power and compulsion. True missionaries of evangelical peace will continue on their way as before, offering unconditional love, with hearts that are often wounded, but vibrant with the hope of that fullness of life promised by Jesus.

 

-André Gilbert, Gatineau, June 2022

Themes