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
Jesus sent the seventy out ahead of him. Like John the Baptist, they were preparing the way for the change that comes with repentance, the peace that comes with kindness, the relief that comes with healing, the strength that comes with being acknowledged. Smoothing the way, preparing people for the good news, they were a Vanguard of Hope.
I myself am not a person of hope. I'm cheerful – I'm glad for what is in the glass whether it is half full or half empty. Depressives tend to see things as they are, so say the sociologists, and I don't have much hope for humanity, based upon my own well-meaning but broken life and what I have studiously observed around me throughout my sixty-eight years. I certainly don't believe in false hope.
What does the Vanguard of Hope looks like now?
When I think of hope, I think of Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Dr. Denis Mukwege at the Panzi hospital in Bukavu DRC; men and women In Hazmat suits caring for Ebola patients, even while the clinics are being attacked, and those working tediously in laboratories on the threshold of a vaccine.
I think of the men and women who try to minister in refugee camps like the notorious Moria camp in Greece and at Cox's Bazar at the border of Bangladesh. Understaffed, under-resourced, overwhelmed; Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, International Rescue Committee, The International Red Cross, hundreds of NGOs and ordinary citizens try and try and try again. Lambs among the wolfishness of war, greed, drought, violence, starvation, these individuals are their own vanguard of suffering against greed, power, ignorance, complacency.
When I look to the borders of my own wealthy country I begin to waver again, lose my own hope.
I suspect that most of those 70 people that Jesus sent out didn't see themselves as anything special. Most, if not all of them needed to be ministered to themselves. They lived in a terrible time – under the brutal oppression of a foreign power, systemic local government corruption, food insecurity, fragility of life and capricious fortunes. “Why send me?” they probably thought. Jesus warned them that it wouldn't be easy. They might face rejection, thirst, hunger, forces of evil. Behold I send you like lambs among wolves.
But they came back amazed. “Look at what we could do!” And Jesus said, (I'm sure he was laughing in his joy as he said it ) "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.”
While I was groping around in the darkness of my own hopelessness to pray myself into this text, I read this flyby comment from a young American congresswoman.
... I learned that hope is not something that you have. Hope is something that you create, with your actions. Hope is something you have to manifest into the world, and once one person has hope, it can be contagious. Other people start acting in a way that has more hope. *