Fourteenth Sunday C in ordinary time, Luke 10, 1-9
Everyone has a place in the Church.
Do you know how we know that a parish is alive? It depends not only on the number of people present in the church, the number of Masses in the parish, the number of sacraments celebrated, but also on the state of the church buildings, whether there is a church school in the parish when the last time there were missions in the parish, whether there are spiritual vocations from the parish, how engaged the priest, the priests are… All this says something. A vibrant parish is one in which you, me, and we are appropriately and actively engaged for the salvation of our souls and others in the parish.
The remark of the Evangelist St. Luke informs us of this: ‘The Lord chose seventy-two others, and sent them two by two before him into every city and place where he was about to go. And he said to them: ‘The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest! Go” (Luke 10:1-3)!
Jesus’ mission-mission is coming to a climax. Jesus sent out the Twelve, endowed them with His strength and power, and sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God. He gave them instructions on what not to take with them and how they were to go about their work (cf. Lk. 9:1-6). The twelve apostles are sent to the twelve tribes of Israel. The second, more numerous group, the seventy-two, represents all the world’s nations, according to the Septuagint. Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, where the culmination of his mission is to take place. In this second group, it is expressed that Jesus came not only to redeem the Jewish people but the whole world, thus the universalism of salvation (cf. Gen. 10:1-32). Salvation is to be announced to all people. This is not a one-time activity. It is a matter of age, every nation and people until the end of time, the second coming of Christ into the world. Jesus likens the activity of proclaiming the gospel’s good news to a harvest. During the harvest, every hand, every person is welcome. Jesus speaks of another severe matter that there will never be enough laborers in missionary activity: “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:1-3). It would not be correct to see only the number of priests in these words. Jesus speaks of all those who receive baptism for their rights and duties.
In Jesus, the kingdom of God has come among us, and he brings himself as a gift to humanity, and this gift needs workers who will distribute it to their brothers and sisters in their time. Jesus’ words: “Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest! Go!” (Lk 10:1-3), say that all our activities, such as Masses, sermons, and access to the sacraments… only have their basis and meaning when they prepare the way for Jesus in us, and we have a share in the harvest. Anything that would not meet this criterion, no matter how active, how outwardly involved, if we did not do it for Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, would not fulfill what Jesus rightly asks of us, expects of us, no matter how much we lay down our lives.
Jesus gives instructions as to what the apostolate is to be characterized by. To bring true peace. Those who will fulfill their mission in this way have a right to adequate provision. “The worker deserves his wages” (Lk 10:7). The apostle of Christ must respect the freedom of those to whom he brings the Gospel. They must show their anger accordingly when they do not accept the message. “We shake off the dust that has clung to our feet in your city. But know that the kingdom of God is at hand” (Lk 10:11). The work of witnesses of the Gospel will never be easy. Jesus predicts this about the activity of Satan: “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Lk 10:18).
Everyone has his place in the Church. Accepting, living, and carrying out one’s mission is necessary. One belongs among the Twelve, another among the seventy-two, but everyone has his appointed place, time, and status. Even without us, there can be a harvest of evangelization; even without us, the world will learn about Christ. Our salvation is tied to our involvement. The Church is not only priests but also the laity, that is, all the baptized who are not in the hierarchy of the Church. The priest has his appointed and irreplaceable role in the Church. The priest is also to give adequate space to lay brothers and sisters. The Holy Father John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici on the vocation and mission of the laity, reminds us not to interfere in the activities of the other but that the priest should do what he ought to do as a priest and likewise that the laity should not be hindered from doing what they ought to do and should not be neglecting their duties.
Father Duval, known as the “guitarist of God,” priest, artist, and singer, tells a story: “A sick young priest, he doesn’t remember his initials, all he knows is that he was a Breton, he was given a cure. After a few weeks in the sanatorium, he felt better, so he decided to walk a longer route. That evening, about 300 meters from our house, I found him all bloodied up. I felt no fear. When I bent down to him, he said to me: “How well, I am dying. Please, won’t you take my place? True, if you will!” The priest died. And I took his place. I was 12 years old then, and now I’m 40.”
How beautiful it is to die, ready to meet God the Judge when we have accomplished our mission. What more could we ask for. And for this reason, may our life also be a challenge to others: to take up the baton of our mission, brother, priest, husband, father, husband, sister, wife, wife, and mother. We have received the missionary mission from those who have received the reward of a prophet, a confessor, a virgin, or a bloody martyr. We know that, with us, the Church rises and falls. It blossoms and withers. It enjoys favor with God and men and causes sorrow by our poor attitude to duty. The world is still a harvest. The world is still pagan. There is no less need for priests and faithful laypeople today than at any time in the past. The world today, perhaps more than before, needs new vocations both in the spiritual state and in the work of parenthood. The world is also improved or worse by our efforts. We realize that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, made in the image of God, and we are to remind today’s modern, scientific, educated, cultured, athletic… world.
Today’s world longs for “Homo Dei” – “Man of God.” We want to be such a man, to live for Christ and our brothers and sisters. The world needs holy priests and laity. So, also the courageous, the self-sacrificing, the reliable, who knows how to put their hand to work, who by their life, often without words, without the desire to be noticed by others, will be a sign of a living parish, of an alive Church.
It is not a problem to notice, whether in the church or outside it, during a visit to the family, in the workplace, or during a chance meeting, with whom what kind of people we are dealing. Others also see in us what kind of people we are, Christians.
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