2 Corinthians 3:1-6 & Luke 10, 1-7
June 26, 2016 at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Norman, Oklahoma
Now we pick up Luke’s take on the great mission. There is a shift of focus from Israel and the Jews to the wider mission that bear more resemblance to the mission of the church after the resurrection of Christ. The 72 is our clue to this universality because it reminds those steeped in the Book of Genesis that the descendants of Noah were 72 in number meaning everyone left after the flood. Luke is anticipating the mission to all the nations begun at Pentecost after Easter when people from every nation under heaven (that’s what it says in Acts 2, 5) were gathered in Jerusalem that Pentecost to hear the Apostolic proclamation.
What happens today is that the 72 disciples become apostles. There is a difference between these two as I said two weeks ago. Disciples are students. Apostle are preachers. Luke it making a point with the numbers. The 12 apostles have consistently represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Now to that number Jesus adds the 72 opening up the mission beyond Israel. No longer is this a chosen few who are sent only to the house of Israel. Now everyone is sent to bring in the harvest so that God can fill all of us with good things.
Luke is unfolding for us, the universal vocation of everyone who has come to faith in Jesus Christ. There is work to be done, and we are sent to take up a share in that mission, reaping the harvest. Sent with bare essentials thinking that we don’t have enough, that we’re not ready, that we don’t know enough and can’t do a good jog; but because this is God’s work, God will provide the resources. Success is not the issue, going and doing is.
We cannot be a passive group of stay-at-home people and be part of mission that identifies us as belonging to Christ. We are charged as church to proclaim the Kingdom and offer God’s peace to all. That is the first step of this commission.
Where people long for comfort, you extend the touch of assurance. Where people are afraid, you sit with them and defy the darkness and fear. Where people look for hope, you bring the light of Christ. Where people are bound by ignorance, you set them free with the truth. Where people are anxious and burdened with the things of this world, you share your joy and the freedom with the things that God provides. This is what proclaims the Kingdom. It takes patience, the patience of God. It takes obedience and openness to the will of God. It takes the vision of the long range view and the wisdom to remember that in the long history of creation we haven’t been here very long at all. We are just getting started.
When sent to announce peace as this reading concludes, we touch the heart of the message we have to share, the truth. Peace was the first announcement of Christ’s coming: “Peace on earth and good will toward men” is what the angels sang to the shepherds. In his life among us, Jesus reached across every barrier by the simple gestures of acceptance and speaking the truth. He showed us what divine peace is all about, the healing of all division and the unity of all creation.
The very word, Shalohm describes wholeness. The Hebrew word literally describes the mending of a net. It has to do with putting back together whatever is broken. As Jesus used the word it was a greeting that announced that he was there present in their midst, and that the relationship he had with the apostles was not broken by death. That is what those sent are to say when they enter a home. They are to announce by the greeting of peace that Christ is there. As Jesus will say later in Luke’s Gospel: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” We are to continue the peacemaking of Jesus, but this is not patching things up, arranging a settlement with concessions all around, or trying to find some compromise. This peace, real peace, the peace of Christ has to do with the truth of who we are and who we are in God. It is not something negotiable. It is God’s gift to those who are open in faith to the tranquility of God’s love and God’s presence. It is achieved and accomplished when we enter into the magnetic pull of God unity and God’s love.
All the world’s attempts at peace-making are futile and will eventually break down without finding our peace with God and entering into God’s love and unity. Without peace with God, disciples like us will have no peace to share. But that is our mission, peace – unity with God which inevitably means unity within the human family who call God, Father.