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"Lectio divina is an authentic source of Christian spirituality recommended by our Rule. We therefore practice it every day, so that we may develop a deep and genuine love for it, and so that we may grow in the surpassing knowledge of Christ. In this way we shall put into practice the Apostle Paul’s commandment, which is mentioned in our Rule: “Let the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, live abundantly in your mouth and in your hearts; and whatever you must do, do it in the name of the Lord.”

 Carmelite Constitutions (No. 82)

Lectio: 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lectio: 
Sunday, July 4, 2010  

The sending of the 72 disciples
Rebuilding Community Life 
Luke 10:1-12.17-20 

 

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection. Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

 

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

Jesus’ preaching draws many people (Mk 3:7-8). A small community begins to form around him. At first, two persons (Mk 1:16-18); then another two (Mk 1:19-20); then twelve (Mk 3:13-19); and now in our text, more than seventy-two persons (Lk 10:1). The community continues to grow. One thing Jesus insists on is community life. He set the example. He never wished to work alone. The first thing he did at the beginning of his preaching in Galilee was to call people to live with him and share in his mission (Mk 1:16-20; 3,14). The ambience of fraternity that grows around Jesus is a foretaste of the Kingdom, a proof of the new experience of God with the Father. Thus, if God is Father and Mother, then we are all one family of brothers and sisters. Thus is the community born, the new family (cf. Mk 3:34-35).

This Sunday’s Gospel tells us of practical things to direct the seventy-two disciples in their proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom and in rebuilding community life. Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and rebuilding community life are two sides of the same coin. One does not exist and cannot make sense without the other. While reading the text, try to look for this connection between community life and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

b) A division of the text to help with the reading:

Luke 10:1: The Mission 
Luke 10:2-3: Co-responsibility 
Luke 10:4-6: Hospitality
Luke 10:7: Sharing
Luke 10:8: Communion around the table
Luke 10:9a: Welcoming those excluded 
Luke 10:9b: The coming of the Kingdom 
Luke 10:10-12: Wiping the dust from their feet 
Luke 10:17-20: The names written in heaven

c) Text:

 Luke 10:1-12.17-201 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. 2 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. 3 Start off now, but look, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Take no purse with you, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, let your first words be, "Peace to this house!" 6 And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. 7 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. 8 Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is put before you. 9 Cure those in it who are sick, and say, "The kingdom of God is very near to you." 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, 11 "We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near." 12 I tell you, on the great Day it will be more bearable for Sodom than for that town.
17 The seventy-two came back rejoicing. 'Lord,' they said, 'even the devils submit to us when we use your name.' 18 He said to them, 'I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Look, I have given you power to tread down serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. 20 Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven.'

 

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

 

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What pleased or struck you most in this text? Why? 
b) Name each of the things that Jesus tells the disciples to do and the things to avoid.
c) What does Jesus wish to clarify through each of these suggestions so different from those common in everyday life? 
d) How can we put into practice what the Lord asks: “take no purse with you”, “do not move from house to house”, “salute no one on the road”, “wipe off the very dust from your feet”?
e) Why are these suggestions of Jesus a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God?
f) Jesus tells us to be attentive to the most important thing when he says: “your names are written in heaven!” What does this mean for us?

 

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the theme

a) The literary and historical context:

A little before our text, in Luke 9:51, is the beginning of the second phase of Jesus’ apostolic activities, that is, a long journey to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51 to 19:29). The first phase took place in Galilee and began with the presentation of Jesus’ programme in the synagogue of Nazareth (Lk 4:14-21). In the second phase, he goes to Samaria, sends messengers ahead of him (Lk 9:52) and draws new disciples (Lk 9:57-62). The second phase begins with the appointment of the other 72 disciples and with the presentation of the programme that will guide them in their missionary activities (Lk 10:1-16). Thus Luke suggests that these new disciples are not Jews from Galilee but Samaritans, and that the place where Jesus proclaims the Good News is no longer Galilee but Samaria, the territory of the excluded. The aim of the mission given to the disciples is the rebuilding of community life. In Jesus days, many movements tried new ways of life and of sharing life: the Pharisees, the Essenes, the Zealots, John the Baptist and others. Many formed communities of disciples (Jn 1:35; Lk 11:1; Acts 19:3) and had their missionaries (Mt 23:15). But there was one great difference. The communities of Pharisees, for instance, lived apart from people. The community around Jesus lives among the people. Jesus’ proposal to the 72 disciples is to recover the old community values that were being lost, like hospitality, welcoming, sharing, communion around the table, accepting the excluded. Jesus tries to renew and reorganise communities in such a way that they may become an expression of the Covenant, an expression of the Kingdom of God.

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 10:1: The Mission
Jesus sends the disciples to the places he would be visiting. The disciple is Jesus’ spokesperson. He is not the master of the Good News. Jesus sends them in pairs. This allows for mutual help and thus the mission is not that of an individual but of the community. Two persons represent the community better.

Luke 10:2-3: Co-responsibility 
Their first task is to ask God to send labourers. All of Jesus’ disciples must feel responsible for the mission. Thus they have to pray to the Father for the continuance of the mission. Jesus sends his disciples like lambs among wolves. The mission is a difficult and dangerous task. The system within which they lived and within which we still live continues to resist the reorganisation of people living in community. Anyone who, like Jesus, proclaims love in a society organised on individual and collective selfishness, will be a lamb among wolves and will be crucified.

Luke 10:4-6: Hospitality 
Jesus’ disciples may not take anything with them, no purse, no sandals. All they can take with them is peace. This means that they had to rely on the hospitality of the people. Thus the disciple who goes carrying nothing but peace, shows he trusts people. He thinks that he will be accepted and that thus people will feel respected and confirmed. In this way the disciples were criticising the laws concerning exclusion and brought out the old values of community sharing of the people of God. Salute no one on the road means that they must not waste time with matters not pertaining to the mission. This may be a reference to the episode of the death the Sunamite’s son, where Elisha says to his employee, “Go! If anyone salutes you, do not answer” (2Kings 4:29), because this was a matter of life and death. Proclaiming God’s Good News is a matter of life and death!

Luke 10:7: Sharing 
The disciples must not move from house to house, but must stay in the same house. They must live together with and share in the life and work of the local people, and live on what they receive in exchange, the labourer deserves his wages. This means that they must trust in sharing. Through this new practice, they recovered one of the old traditions of the people of God, criticising a culture of accumulation that was characteristic of the Roman Empire and so proclaimed a new model for people to live together.

Luke 10:8: Communion around the table
The disciples must take what food and drink they offer. When the Pharisees went on a mission, they went prepared. They took with them purse and money so that they could provide for their own food. They maintained that they could not trust the food of the people because it was not always ritually “pure”. Thus the observance of the Law of legal purity, instead of helping to overcome divisions, weakened the life of communitarian values. Jesus’ disciples must not be separate from the people but rather accept communion around the table. When coming into contact with people they were not to be afraid of losing legal purity. The community value of fraternal living together is greater than the observance of ritual norms. By acting thus, they criticised the current laws on purity, and proclaimed a new way to purity, to intimacy with God.

Luke 10:9aWelcoming those excluded 
The disciples must look after the sick, cure lepers and drive out evil spirits (cf Mt 10:8). This means that they must welcome into the community those who had been excluded from it. The practice of solidarity is a criticism of a society that excluded a person from the rest of the community. And thus is recovered the ancient prophetic tradition of goêl. From earliest times, the strength of the clan or the community was revealed in its defence of the value of a person, a family and the possession of land, and was concretely practised every “seven times seven years” in the celebration of the jubilee year (Lv 25,8-55; Dt 15,1-18).

Luke 10:9bThe coming of the Kingdom 
Hospitality, sharing, communion around the table, welcoming the excluded (goêl) were four pillars for sustaining community life. But because of the difficult situation of poverty, unemployment, persecution and oppression from the Romans, these pillars were broken. Jesus wants to rebuild them and affirms that, if they go back to these four values, the disciples can proclaim to the four winds: The Kingdom of God is very near to you! Proclaiming the Kingdom does not mean teaching truth and doctrine, but bringing people to a new way of living and sharing, a new way of acting and thinking, based on the Good News that Jesus proclaims: God is Father and therefore we are all together brothers and sisters.

Luke 10:10-12: Wiping the dust from their feet 
How can we understand such a hard threat? Jesus came to bring an entirely new thing. He came to recover the communitarian values of the past: hospitality, sharing, communion around the table and welcoming the excluded. This explains the severity of the words used against those who refuse to accept the message. They are not refusing something new, but their own past, their own culture and wisdom! Jesus’ plan for the 72 disciples was aimed at digging up the memory, recovering the communitarian values of the oldest tradition, to rebuild the community and renew the Covenant, to renew life and thus to make God the new great Good News in the life of people.

Luke 10:17-20: The names written in heaven
The disciples come back from the mission and get together with Jesus to evaluate what they had done. They begin by telling their stories. With great joy, they inform him that, in the name of Jesus, they were able to drive out evil spirits! Jesus helps them in their discernment. If they were able to drive out evil spirits, it was because Jesus had given them that power. While they stay with Jesus, no evil can come to them. And Jesus says that the most important thing was not driving out evil spirits, but that their names are written in heaven. To have one’s name written in heaven means to be certain of being known and loved by the Father. Some time before this, James and John had asked to bring down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans (Lk 9:54). Now, through the proclamation of the Good News, Satan falls from heaven (Lk 10:18) and the names of the Samaritan disciples are entered in heaven! In those days, many thought that whatever was Samaritan was of the devil, of Satan (Jn 8:48). Jesus changes everything!

c) Further information:

The small communities being formed in Galilee and in Samaria are above all “a foretaste of the Kingdom”. The community around Jesus is like the face of God transformed into New News for the people, above all for the poor. Is our community like this?

Here are some characteristics of the community that grew around Jesus. These are characteristics of the face of God revealed in them. They may act as a mirror for the revision of our community:
i) “You have only one master, and you are all brothers" (Mt 23:8). The foundation of the community is not knowledge or power, but equality among the brothers and sisters. It is fraternity
ii) Jesus insists on equality between men and women (Mt 19:7-12) and gives orders to men and women (Mt 28:10; Mk 16:9-10; Jn 20:17). They all “follow” Jesus from Galilee (Mk 15:41; Lk 8:2-3). 
iii) They had a common house shared with the poor (Jn 13:29). Thissharing must reach the soul and heart of all (Acts 1:14; 4:32). It must reach the point that there are no secrets among them (Jn 15:15).
iv) The power of service. “Any one who wants to be first among you, must be slave to all!” (Mk 10:44). Jesus sets the example (Jn 13:15). "The Son of man came not be served, but to serve" (Mt 20:28). "Here am I among as one who serves" (Lk 22:27). "We are useless servants!" (Lk 17:10)
v) Because of many conflicts and divisions, Jesus insists that the community be a place of forgiveness and reconciliation, not of mutual condemnation (Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4). The power to forgive was given to Peter (Mt 16:19), the apostles (Jn 20:23) and the communities (Mt 18:18). God’s pardon is passed on to the community. 
vi) They prayed together in the Temple (Jn 2:13; 7:14; 10:22-23). Sometimes Jesus forms smaller groups (Lk 9:28; Mt 26:36-37). They pray before meals (Mk 6:41; Lk 24:30) and frequent the synagogues (Lk 4:16). 
vii) Joy that no one can take away (Jn 16:20-22) "Blessed are you!" Your name is written in heaven (Lk 10:20), their eyes will see what has been promised (Lk 10:23-24), the Kingdom is yours! (Lk 6:20).

The community around Jesus is the model for the early Christians after the resurrection (Acts 2:42-47)! The community is like the face of God transformed into Good News for the people.

 

6. Praying the Psalm 146 (145) 

The face of God, confirmed by Jesus 

Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, my soul!
I will praise Yahweh all my life, 
I will make music to my God as long as I live.

Do not put your trust in princes, 
in any child of Adam, 
who has no power to save.
When his spirit goes forth he returns to the earth, 
on that very day all his plans come to nothing.

How blessed is he who has Jacob's God to help him, 
his hope is in Yahweh his God,
who made heaven and earth, 
the sea and all that is in them. 
He keeps faith for ever,
gives justice to the oppressed, 
gives food to the hungry; 
Yahweh sets prisoners free.

Yahweh gives sight to the blind, 
lifts up those who are bowed down.
Yahweh protects the stranger, 
he sustains the orphan and the widow. 
Yahweh loves the upright,
but he frustrates the wicked.

Yahweh reigns for ever, your God, Zion, 
from age to age.

 

7. Closing prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank you for your Word that has clarified for us the will of the Father. Grant that your Spirit may enlighten our actions and give us the strength to put into practice that which your Word has revealed to us. Grant that we, like Mary, your Mother, may not only listen to your Word but also put it into practice. Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.