On the Gospel of Luke (10:1-9)
In today’ gospel (Luke 10:1-9) we see the Lord appointing his disciples to go ahead of him to preach the gospel to all peoples and thus pass on the gift of faith which they had already received from Him.
The desire to pass on our faith is one of the essential aspects of being a Christian and one which motivated St. Dominic to found the Order of Preachers. Now, as in St. Dominic’s time, there is great need to preach Christian values to a culture which has largely forgotten the gospel and is increasingly influenced by forms of Gnosticism and of New Age Spirituality which are incompatible with Christ’s teaching and implicitly deny that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world.
So what does God ask of us in such challenging times? Today’s gospel provides a twofold response. Firstly, like the first disciples, we too must do our utmost to evangelise those with which we come in contact every day. It is true that most of us are not called to preach the gospel in the same public manner as the seventy-two whom Jesus chose for a particular task. Yet, through the grace of baptism and confirmation all Catholics share in the kerygmatic mission (proclamation of the Good News) of the Church and hence all are called to witness to what we belief. Though words are sometimes necessary, the most effective witness to the gospel message that we can give is to live a life animated by charity.
As today’s gospel makes clear, the gift which true followers of Jesus have to offer the world is that of peace, a peace which the world, in spite of its best efforts or intentions, is not able to obtain for itself. In John’s gospel we read that Jesus gave the gift of peace to his disciples at the last supper: ‘Peace I leave to you, my own peace I give you (Jn 14:27) and again after his resurrection: ‘Peace be with you’ (Jn 20:21). Now he asks his disciples to bring this gift of peace to those towns and villages which they are about to visit; ‘Let your first words be, Peace to this house’. As Christians, we too are challenged to bring Christ’s peace to our world which is so often oppressed by violence and hatred.
The gospel of today also reminds us of the need for hope and for persevering prayer. Jesus says: ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’ Not only, then must, we try to pass on our faith to others, like the disciples did, but we must also constantly pray to God for the grace of renewal for our Church and for our own continual conversion. In particular, Jesus asks us to pray for vocations – that the Lord would give the grace to young men and women to give themselves completely to God and hence facilitate a new springtime in the Church which is so necessary in our times and which the Holy Father has specifically asked us to pray for in his pastoral letter to Ireland.
Finally, we must never forget that the Lord is always much more anxious for the salvation of the world than we are, that it is His harvest and that He is the master of the vineyard. Thus, if we are sometimes tempted lose hope, we must remember that the renewal of the Church and of our personal lives is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and that while these things may be impossible for us, for God, all things are possible.