3 July 2016: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Is 66:10-14c Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20 Gal 6:14-18 Lk 10:1-12, 17-20

The mission of a disciple

Green_banner_sm During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ stories and teachings from his everyday ministry. This week’s readings offer reflections on discipleship and its authority.

The first reading from Isaiah draws parallels between Judah’s restoration after the Babylonian exile and the coming of the kingdom proclaimed in Luke’s gospel. Isaiah tells the returning Jews that “the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.” In today’s gospel, Jesus gives the power or authority of God’s kingdom to his disciples to heal sickness and to expel demons, fulfilling Isaiah’s promise that “the Lord is making known his power.”

The second reading concludes Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Summarizing his letter, Paul tells the Galatians to glory in the cross (which is a “new creation”), not in the mark of circumcision (“which means nothing”). Only the “marks of Jesus”–that is, signs of discipleship–have meaning. Paul’s signs of discipleship–his scars from floggings (Acts 16:22; 2 Cor 11:25) and stonings (Acts 14:19)–mark him as belonging to Christ, who also suffered.

Luke’s gospel continues from last week, presenting us with more ideas about discipleship and its requirements. Jesus prepares seventy-two disciples for an apostolic mission–to do advance work for Jesus in the surrounding towns. Jesus outlines how disciples should conduct themselves:

  • Proclaim God’s kingdom: The disciples mission is to bring God’s kingdom near. Disciples show the kingdom’s signs by bringing peace, by preaching metanoia (a change of heart), and by healing.
  • Travel simply: The mission is so urgent that the disciples carry only the message of the kingdom. While on the mission, disciples don’t need money or extra baggage.
  • Accept hospitality: The disciples depend on hospitality from people they don’t know and who don’t know them. Disciples accept what strangers offer with grace and thanks.
  • Expect rejection: Just as Jesus has been rejected, the disciples should also expect to be rejected. Disciples warn those who reject God’s kingdom, then continue their mission elsewhere. God alone judges those who reject the kingdom.

Their mission completed, the disciples return, flush with their success. Jesus cautions the disciples that it’s not their success–it’s God’s power working through them. Instead, they should rejoice that God selected them and God empowered them to reveal the kingdom (“their names are written in heaven”).

Jesus’ four-point plan about a disciple’s mission is equally valid today–for us, his current disciples. When we miss only one point, our mission falls apart and we fail to bring the kingdom near. When we think that our work alone makes us great disciples, we recall who selected us in the first place. Are we bringing God’s kingdom near? Do our marks confirm that we belong to Christ? Where are our names being written?

—Terence Sherlock

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