Lecio Divina: Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops
with apostolic virtues,
grant, through the intercession of them both,
that, living justly and devoutly in this present age,
we may merit to reach our heavenly homeland.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself would be visiting. And he said to them, 'The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to do his harvesting. Start off now, but look, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Take no purse with you, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, let your first words be, "Peace to this house!" And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is put before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, "The kingdom of God is very near to you."
• During the time of Jesus there were several movements which, like Jesus, sought a new way of living. For example, John the Baptist, the Pharisees and others. Many of them formed a community and had disciples. (Jn 1, 35; Lk 11, 1; Acts 19, 3) and they had their own missionaries (Mt 23, 25). But there was a great difference! The Pharisees, for example, when they went on mission, they went already prepared. They thought that they could not eat what the people would offer them, because the food was not always ritually “pure”. For this reason, they took with them purses and money in order to be able to take care of their own food. Thus, instead of working toward overcoming the divisions, this observances of the Law of purity weakened even more the living out of community values.
• The proposal of Jesus is different. He tries to rescue the community values which had been suffocated, and tries to renew and to reorganize the communities in such a way that they could, once again, be an expression of the Covenant, a sign of the Kingdom of God. And this is what is said to us in today’s Gospel which describes the sending out of the 72 disciples:
• Luke 10, 1: The Mission. Jesus sends the disciples to places where he himself has to go. The disciple is the spokesperson of Jesus. He is not the owner of the Good News. Jesus sends the disciples in pairs, two by two. That is useful for mutual help, because the mission is not individual, but rather communitarian. Two persons represent the community better than only one.
• Luke 10, 2-3: Co-responsibility. The first task is that of praying so that God may send workers. Every disciple - ,man and woman – has to feel responsible for the mission. And thus has to pray to the Father to send workers to continue the mission. Jesus sends his disciples as sheep among wolves. The mission is a difficult and dangerous task. Because the system in which they lived was and continues to be contrary to the reorganization of the people in a community of life. The Mission to which Jesus sends the 72 disciples tries to recover four community values:
- Luke 10, 4-6: Hospitality. Contrary to the other missionaries, the disciples of Jesus – men and women – cannot take anything with them, neither purse, nor sandals. They can and should only take peace. That means that they have to trust in the hospitality of the people. Because the disciple who goes without anything, taking only peace, shows that he/she trusts the people. The disciple thinks that he/she will be received, and the people feel respected and confirmed. Through this practice the disciple criticizes the laws of exclusion and recovers the ancient value of hospitality. Greet no one on the road, probably means, that no time should be lost in things which do not belong to the mission.
- Luke 10, 7: Sharing. The disciples should not go from house to house, but should remain in the same house. That is, they should live together with the people in a stable way, participate in their life and in the work of the people of the place and live from what they receive in exchange, because the labourer deserves his wages. This means that they have to trust in sharing. Thus, through this new practice, they recover an ancient tradition of the people, they criticize the culture of accumulation which distinguished the politics of the Roman Empire and announced a new model of living together.
- Luke 10, 8: Communion around the same table. The disciples should eat what the people offer them. They cannot live separated, eating their own food. That means that they should accept the communion and cannot be separated, eating their own food. This means that they have to accept to sit around the table with the others. In this contact with the others, they should not fear to loose the legal purity. Acting in this way, they criticize the laws of purity which were in force and they announce a new access to purity, to the intimacy with God..
- Luke 10, 9a: The Acceptance of the excluded. The disciples should cure those who are sick, cure the lepers and cast out the devils (Mt 10, 8). This means that in the community they should accept those who are excluded. This practice of solidarity criticizes society which excludes and indicates concrete solutions.
• Luke 10, 9b: The coming of the Kingdom. If all these requirements are respected, the disciples can and should cry out in the four directions: The Kingdom is here! Because the Kingdom is a new way of living and of living together with others, according to the Good News which Jesus has come to reveal to us: God is Father and because of this we are all brothers and sisters. In the first place, to educate for the Kingdom is to teach a new way of living and of living together with others, a new way of acting and of thinking.
• Why are all these different attitudes recommended by Jesus signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God?
• How can we practice today what Jesus asks: “do not take with you any purse”, do not move from house to house”, “do not greet anyone on the road”, announce the Kingdom?
The Law of Yahweh is perfect,
refreshment to the soul;
the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy,
wisdom for the simple. (Ps 19,7)