Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
What Stage on the Journey
by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.

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 rejoining, 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."

The Christian life is a remarkable journey marked by continual conversion to Christ.  I suggest that there are three main stages on the journey: discovering God’s love, allowing God to change our lives, and deciding to bring Christ and His light into the world.  All three stages are addressed in the readings from sacred Scripture chosen for the 14th Sunday, Year C.

People encounter God in a wide variety of ways: the good example of a believer, the longing for something greater than what this world typically offers, illness or suffering, the magnetic power of truth, or even a direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  One reality that is common to all people of deep, Christian faith is that at some point they encounter God directly and come to know deep in their gut that He loves them personally.  They accept the reality that almighty God actually wants to be in a one-on-one relationship with them.

The prophet Isaiah uses the image of a mother and child to describe this intimacy. “As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”  God’s care for His children is personal, tender, deep, merciful and everlasting.

Once we encounter the living God and begin to savor His love, we are motivated to change our lives.  It is His extraordinary love that beckons us to turn from our sinful and selfish ways and discover the fullness of life.  His love casts out fear from our lives and invites us to come face to face with the truth of our human condition.  The light of His love helps us to see our sins.  The warmth of His love helps us to admit them honestly, confess them regularly and find refuge in His arms as we strive to root them out of our lives.

Furthermore, we also are profoundly motivated to develop virtuous habits that help us to live the truth in the face of life’s many challenges.  Gradually, we stop living for ourselves and start living for the Lord.  St. Paul reminds us that faith changes our whole perspective on the world: ”I never boast except in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”  God’s love is the greatest motivator for lasting change in our lives. 

In this week’s Gospel, we see the significance of witnessing our faith to others.  Jesus sends out a group of 72 disciples in pairs to every place he intends to visit.  Jesus’ followers are to prepare the hearts and minds of nonbelievers to receive Jesus when He comes to visit their villages.  We cannot overestimate the reality that Jesus entrusts His disciples with a critical role in the building of His kingdom and the spread of the Gospel.  Through the gift of faith, by the example of their lives, and by words of encouragement, Christians prepare others to encounter Jesus.

The fact that this mission is entrusted to all of the baptized, not just priests and consecrated men and women, was highlighted by Pope Benedict XVI in a homily March 7, 2010, where he referred to the co-responsibility of all the members of the people of God.  This “demands a change of mentality, above all with regard to the laity, moving from considering them ‘collaborators’ of the clergy to recognizing them as truly ’co-responsible’ for the being and action of the church.”

To summarize, the Christian life is a journey marked by three stages: discovery of the love of God, allowing God to radically change our lives and being sent to let the light of Christ shine through us in the world.  At what stage am I on the journey?  Am I giving Christ the chance to transform my life by spending enough time with Him in prayer, sacraments, Christian fellowship and humble service of my neighbor?

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