Mission permeates the entire New Testament. Today’s Gospel from chapter ten of Luke narrates a key event, where Jesus chooses seventy-two additional followers and sends them out on mission. We should conclude that mission is for all of Jesus’ disciples—all baptized Christians, not just the special twelve apostles. Jesus then gives them clear and specific instructions. I see at least ten “mission principles” emerging from today’s Gospel.
(1) All mission and evangelization begin with God’s initiative, with Jesus’ choice. We do not engage in mission based on our decision. Recall Jesus’ words: “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16). (2) Mission is not a personal or individual project. Jesus sends his messengers out in pairs. We understand that as followers of Jesus “we’re in this together” for a more effective witnessing.
(3) Recall that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” This was true in Jesus’ time and remains true today. We must recognize the great task that faces us; we turn to the Lord in prayer, asking for additional harvesters. (4) Next, Jesus gives a brief, yet direct instruction: “Be on your way.” Do not delay! Don’t wait to start until all the details are in place and the perfect mission plan has been formulated. Go, and go now!
(5) Remember that you will face many challenges; you will be like lambs in the midst of wolves. Recognize that some people will welcome your message, while others will reject both you and your very mission. Always be ready to move on; persecution for the faith is nothing new in Christianity. (6) Jesus advises his missionaries to “travel light.” Don’t let material “stuff” weigh you down and get in the way of your ministry of preaching Jesus’ Good News.
(7) The missioner is to extend Christ’s “mercy and compassion” to all. Find like-minded people of peace; work closely with them. (8) Be humble and accept what is offered in terms of food and accommodations; do not go searching for a more comfortable situation. Be content with the hospitality extended to you.
(9) Reach out to the sick and needy you encounter. Recall Pope Francis’ advice to go to the margins, the peripheries, to the excluded in society. (10) Make the announcement of Jesus’ Kingdom message your central emphasis; proclaim that “the reign of God near.”
Indeed, as Christians we all carry on the mission ministry that Jesus gave us. We can be inspired by the well-known saying of Saint Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless others now.”
James H. Kroeger, M.M.
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lord Jesus, my Savior and my God,
I offer you my hands to heal,
my voice to sing your praises,
my mind to contemplate your truth,
my tongue to announce your good news,
my ears to hear the cry of the poor, and
my heart to love others as you love me.
I offer you my past, with all its pain,
my present, with its faults and failures
but also with faith in you who call me.
I offer you my future, be it a day or
many decades to help build
your kingdom here on earth.
Be with me Lord, as I follow you
to the cross and through the cross
to a fuller, more abundant life
that I might love you all the more.
Grant that I seek and find you
in everyone I meet today
and fill me with the joy of knowing
you remain with me always.
By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.