Gospel and Homily Notes by Archbishop Joseph Harris, C.S. Sp
Gospel: Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairsto every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.” The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
I have often wondered what makes some persons wrong and strong. They exhibit the resoluteness and determination which pursuing a cause demands but often are not humble enough to learn from others. They think that what they think is always correct and that unless one agrees with them, one is wrong. They lack to a large extent the quality which is the bedrock of wisdom; i.e. humility or simplicity of heart. They are arrogant and arrogance is no preparation for one’s name to be written in heaven.
In the Gospel passage given to us for our meditation this weekend, Jesus sends out before him seventy two disciples to visit the towns and places which he intended to visit.
He gives them detailed instructions. They are to go in humility, “like lambs among wolves”, and in total simplicity, “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;” They are to seek no added benefit for themselves; “Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another.” They are to give of themselves freely and accept as recompense, without other demands, whatever is given them; “Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.”
It is evident from the story that the disciples have followed precisely what Jesus has asked them to do and they see the marvels of God being worked through them. They come back rejoicing; “The seventy-two returned rejoicing, but well aware that it was not their own power which worked the marvels of God. They said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” They understood that it was in the name of and through the power of Jesus that these marvels were wrought.
What a lesson for us all! Especially since all of us, baptized and confirmed, have been charged with the ministry of carrying out God’s Word here on earth.
In a culture which promotes at all levels individualism and self-sufficiency, it is hard not to be arrogant. It is hard to live the virtue of humility. In a culture which is becoming more and more hedonistic it is difficult to be simple, yet a look a Jesus’ life and the lives of all the saints, shows us that the only way to see the marvels of God being worked through us is to adopt and live the values of humility and simplicity. This is what the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta teaches us. This is what the life of Msgr. Romero of El Salvador shows us. This is the lesson of the Mahatma.
The issue then for each and every one of us is this. Can I live or do I want to try to live the humility and simplicity which characterizes disciples of Jesus. If we do we will experience the “power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy without coming to any harm” and we will rejoice not because the spirits are subject to us, but because our names will be written in heaven.”
All powerful and ever-loving God, we thank you for the examples of humility and simplicity of all your saints. We thank you for the example of humility and simplicity of our Holy Father Francis, Bishop of Rome. We already see the power of the enemy being rolled back as Pope Francis leads us along the road and way of life that your Son Jesus pointed out to the seventy two. Give to each one of us Father, a taste and appetite for these virtues so that your church may be a true witness to the truth of the Gospel. We ask this through the intercession of Mary our Mother and Jesus your Son. Amen