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The mission and return of the seventy[-two]

Gospel Reading: Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
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 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.”

“Put up or shut up” and “walk the talk” are expressions that clearly show the importance of substantiating our words with actions.

Jesus in the Gospel seems to imply the same thing. In sending his disciples to every town and place he intends to visit, he gives them only two things to say to the people: “Peace to this household” and “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.” Most probably, Jesus has taught his disciples extensively on what this “peace” and this “Kingdom” are all about. But the Gospel narrative does not show Jesus telling his disciples to explain to people the content of their preaching about peace and the Kingdom.

On the other hand, Jesus obviously has a lot more to insist on how the disciples are to conduct themselves in their respective mission areas: “Carry no money bag… greet no one along the way… Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you… cure the sick…”

Even without taking the instructions of Jesus literally, the message remains the same: BE SIMPLE!

Our present generation, immersed in the culture of multimedia communication, certainly runs head-on against this exhortation on simplicity. With almost everything and anything available at an instant, thanks to the internet, people, especially the young ones, find it difficult, if not downright absurd, to simplify. “Just do it!” “Express yourself!” “Indulge!” are some of the media enticements to people to accumulate, with very little concern to moral implications and consequences of people’s actions.

By living simply, the disciples of Jesus will draw attention not to themselves but to the “King of kings” himself who provides, protects, and sustains his people. The demons scamper away not because the disciples are eloquent, impressive in their technique and logistics, or respectable in their appearance. No, as they themselves humbly claim:

“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” They are effective and successful in their mission because they rely only in the goodness and the power of the Lord. In other words, they are able to convince people to have faith in God because they (disciples) themselves trust in God.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.