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Return of the seventy-two

Gospel Reading: Lk 10:17-24
The seventy-two disciples 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.”

At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

The mission is a success, since the disciples return filled with excitement at the power they possess. In Jesus’ name, even demons have submitted to them. Such power is exciting to contemplate. Jesus responds by picturing the fall of Satan. Satan’s descent from above, his loss of power, is evident from what has been taking place. The allusion is to imagery from Is 14:12. Judaism associates Satan’s end with the Messiah. Jesus has given the 72 authority to overcome all types of evil power and representations. Later, in Lk 11:20-23, Jesus will describe his own activity as pointing to the presence of one stronger than Satan who plunders Satan’s domain. Given such power, nothing can harm them – a truth Jesus now expresses strongly.

Yet such power is not the true ground for the disciples’ rejoicing. That is, the submission of evil spirits to them is nothing compared to the fact that they are registered among the saved in the Book of Life. Here is the real cause for joy. In fact, it is cause for continuous joy. The Book of Life refers to the great census of God where the blessed will be named. True and eternal life with the everlasting God is the essence of blessing.

Those of simple faith, not those who rest on their own wisdom, come to see the blessing of God (cf 1 Cor 1:25-31).
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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.