After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." -Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
A cup of cold water. A shared piece of bread. A touch on the arm. The gentle stroke of a hand on your forehead as you lie in pain. A kind word.
Jesus sent the seventy into the towns where he would eventually preach. These forerunners, charged with a sort of knightly code of honor, healed the sick and proclaimed the Kingdom of God.
The people Jesus sent out were changed by their acts of mercy. Rather than our actions bringing about the Kingdom in the world, the Kingdom of God comes forth in us through our actions and our interaction with those we serve (meditation one). Love's demands transform us (meditation two) and that is worth any sacrifice necessary (meditation three).
Ever healing and healed, Suzanne
Meditation One (introit) drawn to Christ through you The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one's neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease. As each one of this Society is to become a Co-Worker of Christ in the slums, each ought to understand what God and the Society expect from her. Let Christ live and radiate his life in her, and through her in the slums. Let the poor seeing her be drawn to Christ, and invite him to enter their lives and their homes. Let the sick and the suffering find in her a real angel of comfort and consolation. Let the little ones of the streets cling to her because she reminds them of him, the friend of the little ones. Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God the better because of them. -Mother Teresa of Calcutta 1910-1997 quoted from Mystics, Visionaries, & Prophets, Shawn Madigan CSJ, ed.
Lord, you give the great commission: “Heal the sick and preach the word.” Lest the church neglect is mission, and the gospel go unheard, help us witness to your purpose with renewed integrity. With the Spirit's gifts empower us for the work of ministry.
Lord, you call us to your service: “In my name baptize and teach.” That the world may trust your promise, life abundant meant for each, give us all new fervor, draw us closer in community. With the Spirit's gifts empower us for the work of ministry.
Lord, you make the common holy: “This my body, this my blood.” Let us all, for earth's true glory, daily lift life heavenward, asking that the world around us share your children's liberty. With the Spirit's gifts empower us for the work of ministry.
Lord, you show us love's true measure: “Father, what they do, forgive.” Yet we hoard as private treasure all that you so freely give. May your care and mercy lead us to a just society. With the Spirit's gifts empower us for the work of ministry.
Lord, you bless with words assuring: “I am with you to the end.” Faith and hope and love resoring, may we serve as you intend and, amid the cares that claim us, hold in mind eternity. With the Spirit's gifts empower us for the work of ministry.
-Jeffery Rowthorn (b. 1934) copywrite Hope Publishing Co. 1978 sung to tune Abbot's Leigh (Wonder, Love, and Praise)
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.” -Luke 10:17-18
Fall of the Rebel Angels, Limbourg Brothers, Tres Riches Heures, c.1410
Communion of The Apostles, Albrecht Altdorfer, 1516. Clearly not the sending of the 70 as the disiples have staffs and cloaks, but interesting contrast to other "communion of Apostles" where Jesus formally distributes communion like a priest at mass. Here, the disciples serve out in a wilderness, an abandoned place.
Meditation Two (insight) love's demands Love will make demands on us. It will question us from within. It will disturb us. Sadden us. Play havoc with our feelings. Harass us. Reveal our superficialities. But at last it will bring us to the light. -Carlo Carreto 1910-1988 God does not hurry over things; time is His, not mine, and I, little creature, have been called to be transformed into God by sharing His life. And what transforms me is the charity which he pours into my heart. Love transforms me slowly into God. -Carlo Carretto
Meditation Three (integration) it's worth any sacrifice
It's worth any sacrifice however great or costly, to see eyes that were listless, light up again; to see someone smile who seemed to have forgotten how to smile; to see trust reborn in someone who no longer believed in anything or Anyone. -Dom Helder Camara 1909-1999
The Last Word We are the wire, God is the current. Our only power is to let the current pass through us.
-Carlo Carretto 1910-1988
Sent Out or Sent In ?
Sunday's Gospel raises confused longings in me. I read about the Sending of the Seventy and ask - should I be sorting used clothing and making healthy soups and walking with friends on the streets of New York helping the homeless? Should I revive a once-loved ministry in a girl's detention facility? Is there something I could do in an orphanage in Cameroon or a school in South Africa where friends work already, or even a women's' hospital in Congo, or the slums of Nairobi?
Obviously I must feel guilt over the life I lead. I write. I study scripture. I lead retreats and teach. I correspond with interesting people, many of them young. My children are grown and responsible for themselves. My health is fragile enough that honestly I'd be a burden rather than a help in most of the challenging situations I mentioned above.
And yet I feel I have something terribly necessary to do. But it is not “out there.” At least for now.
I'm grateful for this time - a respite from pain, heartbreak, periods of violence and loss in personal life, and the often unremitting hornet's nest of ordained ministry (over 30 years). I practice a habit of gratitude. I practice interiority, the inner work necessary for the solitude for which I have always hungered and hunger still. The more I pray, listen, pay attention, the greater sense of purpose I feel. Solitude, silence, and gratitude teaches me to perceive my heart's desire and Love's desire for me.
And yet. You never know what calling will come with the next flood, the next terror, the next tragedy - or the last.