In last week’s Gospel reading, we saw how Jesus set out for Jerusalem, resolving to do the Father’s will at all cost. If we have similarly resolved ourselves now to follow Christ, today’s reading gives us our mission, with detailed instructions and encouragement in abundance.
The Lord sends us out in pairs (Luke 10:1), reminding us to strengthen and encourage each other in our mission, and sends us out with a prayer, to “ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to do his harvesting” (Luke 10:2). Harvest-time is a time of urgency, for there is only a narrow window of time when the crop can be harvested without loss.
The harvest metaphor is used here to help us see as God sees – not only how rich the harvest is, but also how urgent the work is. How great the multitude of souls – precious and beyond price – which yearn to know Him. And what a catastrophe it would be, if we missed the time of harvest. Truly, more labourers are required to join this worthy task.
As labourers in the Lord’s vineyard, what an awesome labour of love has the Lord entrusted to us – to carry the message of His love and mercy to the world.
We are reminded of this privileged responsibility at the end of every mass, when the priest commissions us in his concluding prayer to “Go forth, the mass is ended, go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
Do we respond to this call?
Who has Jesus entrusted you to preach His message of love and mercy to?
We are sent ahead of the Lord, to preach that the “Kingdom of God is very near” (Luke 10:9). Like “lambs among wolves”, we are to carry “no purse, no
haversack, no sandals” (Luke 10:4). Bringing only God’s peace with us, we trust in the hospitality of those we visit, and demonstrate utter dependence on the Lord’s providence.
Yet, imbued with a sense of urgency, we “salute no one on the road” (Luke 10:4), not to be rude or unfriendly, but to avoid being distracted from our primary mission. Our work is of the Kingdom of God.
Barred from preaching in the synagogues, Jesus’ disciples usually preached in private homes where they were made welcome. Jesus asks that we “stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer” (Luke 10:7), and “eat what is put before [us]” (Luke 10:8).
By staying in the same house, and eating at the same table, we share the lives of those whom we preach to, thus entering into a relationship with them.
This is in contrast to the Pharisees, who in observing the rituals regarding the preparation and consumption of food, would carry money to provide for themselves and eat separately from the others. Just as Jesus rebuked the Pharisee for observing ritual purity at the expense of “justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:37-44), Jesus teaches us a different way – that it is better for us to have inner purity in our relationship with God and be in communion with our brothers and sisters, than to be scrupulous about traditions. Here it is useful for us to recall the common saying:
Jesus also commissioned us to “cure those [in it] who are sick” (Luke 10:9), for healing best characterises the power of Jesus – not that of strength and might, but that of love and mercy. It is not enough for us to simply help our brothers and sisters in need; it is also important for us to share that it is our love of Jesus that motivates our actions.
For having first been touched in a material way by our help, they may in turn desire to draw closer to Jesus, who is Love Himself. Miracles of healing are the best testimony that the Kingdom of God is near – for, our actions, motivated by our faith, witness powerfully to our love for God, and in turn, God’s love for His people.
The Church has been entrusted to spread the essential message of the Gospel – peace, justice, forgiveness, healing. Faithful to Her mission over the centuries, as members of the Church, now is our time to witness to the Gospel’s message.
While Jesus is clear that His disciples will face difficulty and dangers in their mission, yet there too is a certain joy experienced in doing God’s work.
We see that the disciples “came back rejoicing”, saying “even the devils submit to us when we use your name” (Luke 10:17).
What is God’s will for you?
What obstacles do you face in doing God’s will?
Setting off in faith and hope, Jovian and Faith