Thus says the Lord: Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her; exult, exult with her, all you who were mourning over her! Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts! For thus says the Lord: I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort. When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the Lords power shall be known to his servants.(P) The word of the Lord.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth, sing praise to the glory of his name; proclaim his glorious praise. Say to God, "How tremendous are your deeds!" (R)
"Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you, sing praise to your name!" Come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam. (R)
He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed on foot; therefore let us rejoice in him. He rules by his might forever. (R)
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me. Blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness! (R)
Brothers and sisters: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God.
From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.(P) The word of the Lord.
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to 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 great 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."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Jesus had twelve apostles that we know by name. They are Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, Bartholomew or Nathaniel, Philip, James (the Lesser or Younger), Jude or Thaddeus, Judas Iscariot, Simon the Zealot and Thomas. In the gospel of Luke (9:1) we read, "Jesus called His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick." Today from the tenth chapter we read that Jesus sent out seventy two others on a similar mission. But we do not know the names of those people.
You may remember last week we read that while Jesus was making His way from Galilee to Jerusalem, he sent His disciples to a Samaritan village to make arrangements for His stay there but He was not granted permission. Angry and upset at their rejection, the disciples asked Jesus to call down fire from heaven to destroy them. But Jesus reprimanded the disciples for thinking of retaliation. Jesus never forced anyone to accept His teachings. For sure Jesus knew that the Samaritans would shun Him. And yet he wanted to give them the opportunity to receive Him. When they rejected Him, He left quietly and moved on. There were still many villages that had not yet heard His message. So He went on to another village, and from there he chose seventy two disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the villages He planned to visit. They were sent as messengers to prepare for His arrival.
Before they went, Jesus gave them very clear and specific instructions:
He said, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."
Jesus used the analogy of a large field of grain being ready for the harvest but lacking laborers. The fields refer to the vast humanity waiting to be gathered as God's people but the workers are few. So Jesus first instructed the disciples to pray to the master of the harvest to send out more workers. Who is the master of the harvest? God is the master, for He is the only one who can actually send people to call his people back to Himself. In other words, Jesus reminded His disciples that they must continually rely upon God's strength rather than their own.
He said, "Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves."
Jesus warned His disciples that they were being sent out "like lambs among wolves." The words "lamb" and "sheep" are used throughout the Bible to symbolically refer to God's people who put their trust in God's Word and follow Him faithfully and courageously speak the truth and of His love. On the other hand, in the Bible "wolf" is symbolic of a vicious person or spiritual enemy. It symbolizes a person who is a threat to God's people. It was a stark reminder that the world, then as now, was purposefully hostile to Jesus' followers, therefore, they were to be courageous despite constant danger and risks to their lives.
He said, "Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals and greet no one along the way."
At first glance, Jesus' instructions appear to be unreasonable. Can you imagine a journey without money or a bag or sandals, and greeting no one along the way? The point of this instruction was to encourage the disciples to stay focused on their mission and not be distracted by material concerns and trivial matters or worthless things, because the job they had to do was urgent and the time was short.
He said, "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."
Jesus instructed His disciples to bring the blessing of "peace" to each household. "Peace or Shalom" was an ancient method of salutation among the Jews by which they prayed for restfulness or freedom from stress and pressure, protection, healing and financial security. But the peace what Jesus wanted his disciples to offer to people was more than these. Jesus' peace is an effective word which refers to the reconciliation or peace between God and man.
What does it mean to "let your peace rest on him", and even more, how would one let his peace return to him? Jesus was simply saying that the peace would indeed go to that person or household, if the person and others in the house deserve it as a result of their treatment of the apostles, or it would return to the apostles who imparted the greeting.
He said, "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."
Jesus told His disciples to thankfully receive what was being offered to them and stay there and continue their work without begging from house to house for better food and lodging. And at the same time He told them to regard the support given to them not as charity, but a kind of payment for their work on behalf of God's kingdom.
He said, "Heal the sick and say to them, the kingdom of God has come near to you."
The disciples were instructed to administer healing as part of their ministry. Healing was important because the Kingdom of God which had come with power must be manifested in acts of mercy and kindness.
The instructions given over two thousand years ago to the disciples apply to us even today because Christ's great commission has been renewed in each of us at baptism. Through baptism we have all been commissioned to go out to live and proclaim the good news of Christ and heal people in the name of Jesus. We are already part of the group of harvesters in the field.
However, I believe that in today's world, it is more about talking to and encouraging those who have been already baptized, to truly believe in Jesus and in His gospel than going afar to preach about Jesus. Even in our own homes and in our families the joy of harvest is not yet there, because:
Before talking about Jesus to others, let us first pray to God, our Father. Let us lift God up, and trust in the Lord with all our heart. Like the disciples, we need to pray with others for courage. Let us pray that we may courageously and generously respond to Jesus' call to speak in His name and to act with His power. Let sharing of our faith with others be accompanied by the offering of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. Let us tell everyone that God is very near to them, and that if and when they seek Him, He will bless them with peace and salvation.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!