14TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME YEAR C HOMILY 2022
SENT ON MISSION – ON THE ROAD AGAIN TOGETHER
Lk 10.1-12,17-20 Is 66.10-14 Gal 6.14-18
Now we follow up on last week’s urgent directions from Jesus about the priorities of Christian discipleship, we now move to action, and getting on with the job. It’s really a projection of the call of mission in the early church communities, as the responsibilities broaden and are to be shared with an ever increasing number of faithful disciples, who take up the action. It expands here from the initial 12 apostles to the 70 or 72 disciples, maybe representative of the speculated number of nations of the world at the time, or perhaps looking to the mention of Moses having 70 advisors in Exodus. We’re constantly dealing with promise and fulfilment in Jesus’ ministry, as more and more take up the mission of living, sharing and spreading the Gospel of Jesus.
The symbols of darkness and evil are reflected in the images of snakes and scorpions, not the nicest of creatures, slithering and crawling along on the ground, a sort of lowlife, albeit part of God’s creation!
Then there is the instruction to go out in pairs (like StVdeP members), with the sense that the individual does not operate solo, but in partnership and collaboration with each other, working in communities, in order to establish credibility through word and example. It is suggested that the primary example was that of Paul and Barnabas, heading off together in Acts of the Apostles.
The expectation is that hospitality be provided for those out on the mission, and that they not overload themselves with physical possessions, beyond the bare necessities. Nevertheless, there’s also the realistic reminder and warning that this is no picnic, and that rejection and hard times will be part of the deal. It’s not just a matter of looking forward to an eternal reward in the end, after living in the valley or veil of tears, but of finding happiness, joy and fulfilment along the way through an authentic way of life, with actions speaking louder than words. That’s the hope, anyway. And that’s the challenge for you and me too, in our present environment.
There’s no fixed or detailed definition of discipleship, as each of us has to make choices in our own circumstances, focussing on personal responsibilities, our own well-being and that of those closest to us. Then there’s the broader picture, where we are reminded of the need to look outwards and to create a better world, based on the precepts of the Gospel Jesus lives and proclaims.
Pope Paul VI’s words fit the scene today: “For the Church, the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy, and at the same time given over to one’s neighbour with limitless zeal.” That’s all very well in theory, of course, but far more difficult in practice. We seek our own inner healing and peace, and to bring that to others with whom we come into contact. In faith terms, this is reflecting the power of the Spirit, for those open to responding to that Spirit, and realizing we can’t do it all on our own. Hence the going out in pairs, and returning rejoicing in success where it occurs, but that’s not always the case, and we have to be realistic about that, without giving up hope.
(Silvester O’Flynn OFMCap points to Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King as examples of individuals who fearlessly took up the fight against injustice and gave priority to the afflicted. I never picked this up before, but apparently Francis crossed the lines, so to speak, during the Crusades, between the Crusader’s and the Sultan’s army to call for peace, goodness and fraternity, in the face of the hostilities. Yet, in the end, he’s the one who survived the hostilities, unlike Gandhi and King who gave their lives for the causes of peace and justice they preached and lived.)
It is suggested that Martin Luther King reflected more peacefulness in himself towards the end of his relatively short life, even when he realized the likelihood of assassination: “His suffering was a process of purification through which he grew ever closer to God as the source of his vision and strength… Towards the end of his life, he seemed to be walking more in his visionary land of peace than in the ugly society around him… Peace can only be built on the foundation of justice. The injustices which stem from discrimination, exploitation and deprivation of rights must be eliminated before peace can grow.”
And I had a rather anxious late Monday morning last week, nearing the end of my 8km circuit walk, when I discovered all of my personal cards had disappeared from my iPhone cover. After I literally retraced my steps (another 8km!), with no success, Kathy rang me to say that they had all been handed in by a thoughtful young man named Darren, who had immediately come to the parish office. So I now will refer to St Darren, who had faced much adversity in his own life, rather than St Anthony, when it comes to lost objects to be found!! I did reward him for his trouble, for which he was most appreciative. And so I end with a good news story of faith in the goodness of human nature in our local scene.
Finally, it’s NAIDOC Week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples), and we acknowledge and learn from our indigenous first peoples of this great land of Australia, which we share together.
The theme is “Get up! Stand up! Show up!”, and I quote Jesuit Andrew Hamilton SJ: “Although indigenous Australians continue to suffer discrimination, and racist attitudes are deeply rooted in Australia, there signs of recognition are something to build on. We share the hunger of indigenous Australians for the change that will enable young people to grow proud of their heritage and confident for their future. We should respect and applaud the people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who get up, stand up and show up in the labour of building a better Australia.”
Following up on this is the annual appeal for the “Open the Doors Foundation”, set up to support young aboriginals access the education of their choice. Envelopes are provided for donations, and we’ll also have a leaving collection at the end of Mass.
And so we continue our own journey of discipleship along the long and winding road of our own lives.
john hannon 3rd July 2022