Summary: Year C. Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. July 8th, 2001 Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20 Title: “Reaping is the easy part.”
Year C. Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. July 8th, 2001 Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20
Title: “Reaping is the easy part.”
Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity, to bring our friends into your kingdom, by inviting them to church. Amen.
Before sending them out on mission Jesus instructs an additional seventy-two disciples, warning them about dangers and giving them basic attitudes appropriate for traveling through life.
Luke shows that missionary work is not limited to the Twelve. So he gives us here a “doublet” of the rules for missionary activity already set forth for the Twelve in Luke 9: 1-6. The worldwide task is too great to limit it to so few. The number seventy-two or seventy in some manuscripts, probably symbolizes all the nations of the world. It also reminds us of Moses’ gathering seventy men, two more, Eldad and Medad, were left behind in the camp but were also given his spirit, to receive some of his spirit to lead the people in his absence Numbers 11: 16-25. Thus, like the Twelve, the seventy-two are related to the origins of Israel. Like Jesus and the Twelve, these seventy-two were endowed with the Spirit. They prefigure the elders of the Church who will lead the communities founded in Acts. Empowered by Jesus and representing him, they will make the kingdom present in healing, exorcism and the bestowal of messianic peace.
In verse one, the Lord appointed seventy-two, In Genius 10 the nations were counted as seventy in the Hebrew text and seventy-two in the Greek translation. The meaning here is that Jesus is commissioning disciples to go beyond the confines of Israel to the whole world.
In pairs: The purpose of pairing was not merely to provide mutual support and help, but also to meet the Law’s requirement of two witnesses for validity. When I was a Chaplain the director set us out two at a time, not to overwhelm the patients, but as male and female, it worked in many situations better then solo work.
In verse two, the harvest is abundant: “Harvest” is a metaphor for the final gathering of God’s people. Elsewhere it is carried out by the angels or the Son of Man in Matthew 13:39 and Revelation 14. Here, however, Jesus shares it with his disciples who will preach in his name. He needs more workers because the crop must be quickly picked before it spoils.
Ask the master of the harvest to send laborers for his harvest: The very people Jesus is telling to pray for more help are the very ones he sends. Even more will be needed. The harvest is a worldwide task which will take countless centuries to finish.
In verse three, like lambs among wolves, these disciples are not to let themselves become overwhelmed by “first fervor,” which quickly fades in the face of difficulty. They are not to let their dreams of instant and easy success substitute for real commitment. Their task will not be easy. Their trials will not be enviable. Their enemy will not be immediately obvious. They must be realistic, not naïve.
In verse four, they are to depend on no equipment of their own- no wallet, purse, suitcase or sandals, presumably a spare pair. They are to go “as is” and not dally over inconsequential frivolities, single-mindedly set on the goal. Remember this is set in the context of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, his goal, begun in Luke 9:51, last week’s gospel reading, where he “resolutely determined” to go there. Thus they will show by behavior their trust in God and show by their poverty and peaceableness they have the character of the beatitudes.
In verses five to eight, peace, “Peace” would be the normal greeting in any event. But Christ’s peace is a gift to be accepted or rejected. If rejected, the blessing is forfeited. Move on. If accepted, stay. Do not pick only the most commodious homes to stay in. Peace, not comfort, is the criterion. Eat what they have in disregard for the food taboos of the Law as well as personal preferences. The work is too urgent to let lesser values determine or deter activity.
In verse nine, cure the sick and say to them, Healing and preaching amount to the same thing. Even physical cures must be used for the sake of bringing a person into the kingdom. Physical health is not enough for them.
In verses ten to twelve, Shaking the dust from one’s feet is a symbolic action of complete disassociation from those who reject the preaching. For in rejecting the messenger they reject the message with all the ensuing consequences that entails. If there is no hope for Sodom, there is even less hope for a city or any group of people, that rejects the gospel. Rejection of Jesus has dire consequences. In verses thirteen to sixteen, this point is expand on.