14th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C (2)

Today’s readings are such a big sell for welcoming the Gospel when it is preached to us that we have to scratch our heads at why anyone would not accept it. The benefits are described as the peace and security you felt as a child on your mother’s lap (First Reading), joy (Second Reading), healing from illness (Gospel), liberation from the power of evil (Gospel), and your name being written in Heaven (Gospel). Today’s readings teach us that welcoming the Gospel means letting it shape our lives and, above all, sharing it with others.

In today’s First Reading Isaiah reminds us of the joy, peace, and security that will come from welcoming the Gospel. In the latter part of the Book of Isaiah he speaks above all of the times to come. In speaking of Jerusalem his prophecy also speaks of the Church. In speaking of Jerusalem as mother he also speaks of the Church as our mother. It was not all roses: Isaiah says at one point the misfortunes of Jerusalem were cause for mourning. The sadness will give way to abundance and joy, and just as children share in the misfortunes of their mother they’ll also share in her blessings. Hearing and welcoming the Gospel leads us to Baptism, which not only makes us children of God, but children of the Church as well, leading from the dark sadness and poverty of a world in sin to a new life, full of hope. Even as members of the Church today there is some sadness and poverty, but in the future, as Isaiah teaches us, those things will pass.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reveals the “fine print” of the arrangement and why we don’t always welcome the Gospel, despite all the benefits it offers. We have to be crucified to the world, and the world crucified to us. Our Lord in today’s Gospel describes the fate of those rejecting his disciples as worse than that of Sodom, which was the epitome of debauchery and depravity. It’s not easy to become crucified to the things of this world; it means not letting those things have sway over us or they’ll only lead to our destruction. In faith and hope we have to focus on the benefits of welcoming Christ, following him, and making him known.

In today’s Gospel Luke recalls a moment not narrated in the other Gospels: the sending out of 72 disciples. In Luke’s time the Church and her mission were starting to spread far and wide. Just as Our Lord’s ministry was taken up by the Twelve, little by little, with the passing of the Apostles, the other disciples had to take up the mission too. Luke reminds us that this didn’t just happen after Our Lord had ascended. He sent out those disciples too. We’re all called to go out and share the Gospel, just not necessarily in the same way and under the same circumstances. The instructions Our Lord gives for effective discipleship are very similar to those he gives the Twelve. Don’t get bogged down in having everything you “might” need. Keep it simple and stick to the essentials. Stay focused on where Our Lord is sending you. Don’t make it tourism with a lot of needless side stops. Wish peace toward others in everything you do, even when it is not reciprocated. Don’t abuse the hospitality you are offered as a disciple of Our Lord. If you welcome the Gospel and help others know and welcome it your name will be on the only wall of fame that matters: Heaven’s.

Being Christian means being commissioned to spread the Gospel, like the Seventy-Two. It is the Lord himself who sends us out. What’s your mission? Your family? Your friends? Your colleagues? Your neighbors? All of the above. Don’t count on anyone else bringing the Gospel if you are standing right there.

Readings: Isaiah 66:10–14c; Psalm 66:1–7, 16, 20; Galatians 6:14–18; Luke 10:1–12, 17–20. See also 14th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, TuesdayWednesday ,and Thursday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time; 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle BThursday and Saturday of the 26th Week in Ordinary time, and 1st Week of Advent, Saturday.