Today it’s all about mission.
In the gospel — Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 — we hear how Jesus sent out 72 disciples on a mission to prepare people to receive him. He gave them instructions about how to do it in a way that would let nothing impede them, so that they would not have other concerns. But they weren’t to be the only ones. The harvest is great. They must pray for more workers. The need continues. We are sent, and we must pray for even more. We must not let anything impede us.
The proclamation they made and we make is that the kingdom of God is at hand. We proclaim God’s love; we proclaim Jesus as savior. The disciples proclaimed, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” to prepare people to receive Jesus. We also proclaim the kingdom of heaven to prepare people to receive Jesus. We don’t do it the same way the 72 did: we don’t have to go in pairs to Swampscott or Boxford or Rye. We proclaim the kingdom where we are every day, to the people Jesus intends to visit with the grace of salvation. We proclaim it by the witness of our lives. People should be attracted by our way of life. Our Christian life should be something people find attractive. They may know we are Catholics. If not they may ask what motivates us, and we can tell them that it is our faith which inspires us.
They may or may not respond to our proclamation. If not, we must not let it disturb us. We need to be patient and not nag or become nuisances. Jesus comes to them, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, when it is the right time. But we realize that God works through human instruments. For the success of his work, Jesus needed the preparatory work of the disciples, and he needs our preparatory work.
The second reading — Galatians 6:14-18 — gives us some of the content of the proclamation of the kingdom. In his mercy, God sent Jesus. Through his cross, we are redeemed from all that would keep us from God. In Galatians, Paul has been arguing for the sufficiency of Jesus for salvation: it’s not a matter of ritual or our own efforts. We don’t save ourselves. Apart from Jesus, our efforts are meaningless. In Jesus we are a new creation.
The image of Jerusalem in the first reading — Isaiah 66:10-14c — can be a metaphor for the joy of heaven, the completion of the new creation Paul speaks of. In context, the passage is addressed to those who return from the Babylonian captivity, to a devastated Jerusalem. God promises a splendid future, which we understand is still to be fulfilled. For us, as for the 72, the important thing is that our names are written in heaven, not our glory of this life, what we have, our abilities, our accomplishments. These are merely instrumental for our mission.
In the responsorial psalm — Ps 66:1-7, 16, 20 — calls all the earth, including us, to join Jerusalem in praising God for all he does for us, with the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River as examples.
Now we pray the Father to send workers, including us, for the harvest.