14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Sent To Announce Peace.”
The first reading is well in line with the last part of the Gospel: when in difficulty one should not forget that the promises of God would always be realized.
In the second reading Paul is saying that one cannot believe in Christ without first having heard somebody announcing him. Yes faith depends on preaching (Rom 10:14-17). Paul says that his force and glory is the Cross of Christ. Anybody proclaiming the Gospel cannot rely on human power: his only strength is the One coming from the Word that he proclaims.
The Gospel of today begins by recalling the need to have many people who will announce the Word of God; it then goes on showing how these people are to carry out the mission they have been called to; they are finally invited not to get discouraged because evil has already been defeated and the victory of the Kingdom of God is sure.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation, are from the published works of priests who have, by their Divine inspiration, become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word, we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
During the exile of the Jews in Babylon, a prophet had announced to them, in the name of God, a wonderful future. He had convinced them to return to Jerusalem where they would have prosperity, health, welfare and peace! When they had returned, they found nothing of all this: their living conditions remained miserable, without house, food and clothing, and the country was full of thieves and bandits. Thus many were the reasons that made their faith in God rather shaky. It is to these discouraged people, about to lose all faith, that God sends the prophet who utters the wonderful words of the first reading of today. He invites his people to rejoice, to make merry because the mourning is over. For Israel, Jerusalem will be like a mother giving the breasts to her children, she gives them her abundant and delicious milk cuddling them and fondling them.
Prosperity and wealth he says will inundate the land of Israel like a river in flood. Some people at this point might have thought: here is another charlatan! We have by now heard so many promises like these; we want facts, we want to see results; a concrete change in the situation! The prophet continues confidently: the Lord is going to comfort you like a mother comforts her child; “at the sight your heart will rejoice, and your limbs regain vigour like the grass”. Jerusalem became the metaphor for that ‘home again’ feeling in the Hebrew Scriptures. It was a place where God was present and in charge, and all needs were provided for. It was the spiritual place of rest and comfort, as warm and secure as being an infant in the arms of a loving mother. For people carrying a heavy load, what a wonderful thing it is to contemplate laying that burden down in order to rest in peace.
It is true that conditions are still disastrous, but you can already see some signs of the new world, which has begun. This prophecy is also for us. It is not enough to have faith in order to be a Christian and it is not enough to keep the Commandments. It is necessary to believe and trust that all God’s promises will be realized. It is necessary to feel for certain that the ‘new world’ will manifest itself, in spite of the still widespread and powerful presence of evil.
We too, like the people of Israel are addressed by the prophet; we may not see the fullness of the Kingdom of God during our short existence but we shall only be seeing some signs of its coming. This should be enough to keep up our hope, strongly founded on the love of God for all humankind.
Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20.
The Psalm reflects the joy of a people conscious of God’s care. They recall typical deeds of God on their behalf. He brought them through the Sea at the Exodus and across the Jordan entering the Promised Land. These deeds continue in the mission of the ‘Seventy-Two’.
Paul is ending his letter and in a few words summarizes what he has written. He says: my enemies, those who are so attached to the old traditions, take pride in the sign of circumcision which marks their flesh, and want people to be circumcised so that they can boast of their ‘outward appearance’. I, Paul goes on, shall only boast of the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. What does he mean? The Christian is not to be recognized by eternal signs. Jesus did not wear any uniform. What made him different from all other men was the Cross, the granting of his ‘whole self’ in love for others.
Disciples of Jesus will thus be recognized by the crosses that they bear. They will be Christians if they will be capable of imitating the Master in giving their lives for their brothers and sisters. The sign that they are new creatures will not be circumcision, but their capacity to ‘give up their lives’. Paul takes it one step further when he says he is ‘crucified to the world and the world crucified to him’. From the moment he became a disciple, the world died to him with all of its empty promises and passing glories. He lived his life in service of the ‘New Jerusalem’, not the old. Paul is a tough act to follow, but he issues the invitation. Paul can boast of ‘carrying’, branded on his body, the marks of the sufferings of Christ. What about us? Have we ever suffered for Christ? Would we be recognised as disciples of Christ?
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus sends out more people to prepare the ‘Way’ again, this time ‘seventy-two disciples’. They were to say, “Peace to this house!” They were then to cure the sick and declare, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” They received almost the same instructions as the twelve for their mission i.e. to have complete trust in God, to proclaim the Kingdom and to heal the sick.
Why seventy-two disciples? Very likely Luke wants to remind us of some events in the early days of the history of Israel. At Sinai, seventy-two elders were invited to be witnesses of the covenant that God concluded with his people and to assist Moses who complained to God when he got overwhelmed by all the problems of leading the people through the desert. Jesus never complained that his ministry is too heavy, but he willingly associates his disciples in his work.
Why does Jesus send them out two by two? According to Jewish custom, for a witness to be valid it has to be given by at least two people. By proclaiming the Kingdom of God in pairs, the witness of the disciples will be trusted by those receiving them and they can support each other on the journey.
Jesus sent them to go before him and prepare his coming. It is important to remember when we participate in his mission, visiting people and counseling or teaching them, we go before him, not in his place. It is Jesus himself who brings God’s forgiveness, healing and wisdom. We may be loved and respected as God’s messengers, but we are simply servants of the ‘One’ who sends us to share with others the ‘Good News’ by words and by our life.
What then is this important message the disciples have to share with others? It is summarized in one sentence: ‘The Kingdom of God had drawn very near to you.’ God is about to intervene in a very different way in their lives and give them the real peace and the wholeness of life that they have been looking for. This is what the disciples are to tell people wherever they meet them in their houses or in the streets and in the marketplaces in their towns.
The message is so important and urgent that it has to be proclaimed without delay. But the disciples are not just to witness by words but also by deeds, because ‘actions speak louder than words’. This is what Jesus has been doing up to now. He teaches people but he also cures their physical and spiritual sickness.
The apostles and disciples of all times are invited to do the same. To show that this message is really from God, Jesus’ messengers are not to count on any material security that their own possessions would give them. They are to count on God who provides for them through the generosity of the people who will welcome them.
But not everybody will welcome them and their message because the message of Jesus is not easy. It challenges people and judges their lives. Before it nobody can remain neutral and undecided.
When the seventy-two return they are overjoyed about the results of their mission and so is Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, praises God. They are the privileged witnesses of the fulfillment of the prophecies. Though they are very ordinary people God has revealed to them the time of salvation.
Isaiah celebrates the ‘New Jerusalem’. Paul boasts of the ‘Cross of Jesus Christ’. In the Gospel of today Jesus invites his disciples to celebrate the ‘Reign of God’, and we know that these three things speak of the same reality. It is like receiving three invitations to the same party.
Who were the ‘Seventy-Two’ invited to the party? The number is chosen also for its symbolic value to represent the ‘whole world’ (numbers related to the ‘Family of Nations’ in Genesis). These ‘Seventy-Two’ might have included your average parishioners of today: some not regular in their attendance. All were sent, and they went ‘everywhere’, and Satan fell from the sky like lightning.
As we share the greeting of peace at the Eucharistic Feast we would do well to remember the true depth of Christian peace. Ultimately, peace is a participation in the reign of God – now partially, but in heaven, fully. Shalom!
Today we are part of the ‘Seventy-Two’, invited to go out there and cause Satan to collapse, witnessing against one evil at a time. God knows there are many to choose from. We need to find a partner and get moving!
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’.
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … A prophet had announced to the Jews in exile a ‘wonderful future’ on their return to Jerusalem. They found nothing of the prosperity, health, welfare and peace they had anticipated. Instead there were not even the basic amenities and the country was without law and order. This had made their faith in God’s promises rather dubious and questionable. When things in our lives seem to fall apart do we tend to lose faith or are we able to persevere and trust in God’s plan?
Mon. … The prophet Isaiah’s encouraging words in the first reading of today are addressed to us too. It is not enough to have faith in order to be a Christian and to keep the Commandments. We need to believe and trust in God that his promises will be realized in God’s own time, not when we want it done. How strong can our Christian faith be if we don’t trust in God? What possibilities do we have for eternal life if we don’t trust in God’s plan of salvation?
Tues. … Right now we may have difficulty in seeing the fullness of the Kingdom of God during our short existence on earth; we will however see many signs of its coming when we too participate with our brothers and sisters helping the Spirit in renewing the face of the earth. Let us keep up our hope and trust in a God who has a plan for each one of us based on his love for all humankind.
Wed. … Paul speaks of his enemies being attached to old traditions taking pride in outward signs, which enables them to boast. He adds that a Christian is not recognized by external signs. Christians will be identified by the way they imitate their ‘Master’ and the love and sacrifices they make for others. Would we be recognized as being Christians by strangers? Can we honestly say that we have willingly carried the cross for others?
Thurs. … Jesus invites his disciples of all time to go before him and to prepare his coming by proclaiming the ‘Good News’ that the Kingdom of God has drawn very near to us. Do we trust in this message that Jesus has given us? Do we trust in God to guide and provide for us both spiritually and physically when we carry out his message of ‘Good News’?
Frid. … Not everyone will welcome the ‘Good News’ because the message of Jesus is not easy to accept. It challenges people and judges their way of living. For many it may seem more like bad news. The Seventy-Two have become privileged witnesses of the fulfillment of the prophecies. God has revealed to them the time of salvation. Jesus invites us to join the ‘Seventy-Two’ and be a witness; or will we lose confidence and faith before we even get started?
Sat. … The reading today invites us to the ‘New Jerusalem’ to that place of spiritual rest and comfort where God is in charge and where all our needs are provided for. A special place where love takes the place of sinful burden where we may truly live out the metaphor for that ‘home again’ feeling with our Creator.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, let us today reflect on the many times our faith and trust has been put to the test and has failed because we were looking for an immediate response during our short existence. Give us your grace and blessings that we may trust in Your plan of salvation and in Your never failing love for all humanity. May our participation in announcing the ‘Good News’ to others bring us all closer to Your ‘New Jerusalem’.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.