14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20 (1)
Luke 10:1-2, 17-30
July 7, 2019
Jesus sent “seventy-two others” out on a mission. In identifying them as “others” a distinction is made from the Twelve Apostles who had already been sent out on a similar mission (the Apostles actually had more to do on their mission).
The number “twelve” for the Apostles is rooted in the Twelve tribes of Israel, the whole of Israel, but why 72?
At the time of Jesus, seventy-two was the number of all the known nations, so it symbolizes the mission to proclaim that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” is to the whole world.
Seventy-two is also the number of elders appointed by Moses to help in advising the people.
How are the Twelve and the seventy-two represented in our church today?
Today, bishops are the successors to the Twelve Apostles. Who succeeds the seventy-two is less certain. Some scholars say it is the priests. Others say everyone.
Certainly, priests have a particular role to play in offering the Sacraments but the work of the Church is not limited to just the clergy. At Baptism we all receive the Holy Spirit and are anointed as priest, prophet, and king.
We are all called to be willing to make sacrifices for the good of others and for our faith. In sacrificing, we fulfill our priestly calling. We are all called, in different ways, to share God’s Word, fulfilling our prophetic call. We are all called to be a king like Jesus in serving others.
Is it easy? No, especially in a culture of relativism that says we aren’t supposed to talk about our faith with others. The same culture of relativism says we shouldn’t talk about our values and morals to others.
If we try to share the gospel, we might face rejection, we might feel “like lambs among wolves.” It becomes easier to keep silent outside our church walls. Unfortunately, this means people outside the church don’t hear about Jesus and even inside the church, people really don’t understand why our faith teaches what it does.
Struggles to live out our faith can take different forms in different places and time periods but the struggle is nothing new.
The Israelites had grown weak in their faith and turned from God. For this, God allowed them to be defeated by their enemy, the Babylonians. Many were taken away in exile.
Our first reading today from Isaiah was written at the end of the Exile. It speaks of mourning because, as they return home, they find the Temple and Jerusalem has been destroyed.
Yet the Lord tells them to “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad.” In their mourning, the Lord promises He “will spread prosperity,” that He will “comfort” them, and that they will “flourish.” They rejoice at God’s promise.
When you hear “prosperity,” you might think of having a big home, fancy cars, and a lot of money. These things are neither good nor bad on their own, but it isn’t true “prosperity.” The treasure that the Lord offers us is eternal life.
We truly “flourish” not when we are materially rich. No, to truly flourish is receive the blessings of God. Earthly treasures bring a short happiness. Real faith brings eternal joy that lasts forever.
So, going back to what I said earlier about how we are all called to share the faith, what are we to do?
We are not all called to do the same thing. I am called to preside at the Sacraments and preach. You are not but you are called to “shout joyfully” and “sing praise.” We are all called to speak of the tremendous things the Lord has done for us.
How do we do this in a “culture of relativism” that says we aren’t supposed to talk about our faith publicly?
We do so by being the best we can be at whatever we do. It can start with looking at our motives from what we do.
I used to be an engineer, specifically I worked in civil engineering on roads and bridges. One might suggest that engineering has nothing to do with how one lives out their faith.
One might choose a profession by how much money they can make. As an engineer, if I had gotten my professional license, I could have made a lot more money. I didn’t because the work the licensed engineers wasn’t what I wanted to do. I saw my job as an engineer as to provide safe roads and bridges for people to get where they needed to be.
At work, it is also an important witness to hold fast to our values, treating those around us with love and compassion. When people see us living this way, it can be a powerful prophetic witness to them.
Our parish is called St. Luke the Evangelist. Luke was an evangelist in writing the gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. What do you to evangelize, to share the faith? What do we need to do as a parish?