Lectio Divina: Luke 9:1-6
1) Opening prayer
guide us, as You guide creation
according to Your law of love.
May we love one another
and come to perfection
in the eternal life prepared for us.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 9:1-6
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them." Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.
• Today’s Gospel describes the mission which the twelve received from Jesus. Later, Luke speaks about the mission of the seventy-two disciples (Lk 10:1-12). The two Gospels complete one another and reveal the mission of the Church.
• Luke 9:1-2: The sending out of the twelve on mission. “Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal”. In calling the Twelve, Jesus intensifies the announcement of the Good News. The objective of the mission is simple and clear: they received the power and authority to cast out devils, to cure the sick and to announce the Kingdom of God. Just as people were admired, astonished seeing Jesus’ authority over the unclean spirits, and seeing His way of announcing the Good News (Lk 4:32.36), the same thing should happen with the preaching of the twelve apostles.
• Luke 9:3-5. The instructions for the mission. Jesus sends them out with the following recommendations: “Take nothing for the journey, neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money and do not have a spare tunic”. Do not go from one house to another, but “Whatever house you enter stay there; and when you leave let your departure be from there”. “As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as evidence against them”. As you will see these recommendations, which seem strange to us, have a very important significance.
• Luke 9:6. The execution of the mission. They go. It is the beginning of a new stage. Now, not only Jesus, but the whole group goes to announce the Good News to the people. If the preaching of Jesus caused conflict, now, with the preaching of the whole group, there will be a greater conflict.
• The four fundamental points of the mission. At the time of Jesus, there were diverse movements of renewal: the Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Zealots. They also were seeking a new way to live in community and they had their own missionaries (cf. Mt 23:15). But when they went on mission, they were advised: to carry a staff, and a haversack to put in it their food. They did not trust the food which was literally not “pure”. Contrary to the other missionaries, the disciples of Jesus received diverse recommendations which help us to understand the fundamental points of the mission, to announce the Good News:
a) They should take nothing (Lk 9:3; 10:4). That means that Jesus obliges them to trust in the hospitality; because one who goes with nothing, goes because He trusts in the people and thinks that He will be welcomed, received. With this attitude they criticize the laws of exclusion taught by the official religion and they show, by means of a new practice, that they had other criteria in the community.
b) They should remain in the first house where they enter, until they leave the place (Lk 9:4; 10:7). That is, they should live together in a stable way and not go from one house to another. They should work with all and live from what they receive in exchange “because the laborer deserves his wages” (Lk 10:7). In other words, they should participate in the life and work of the people, and the people will receive them in their community and will share with them house and food. That means that they have to trust in sharing. This explains the severity of the criticism against those who reject the message: shake off the dust from the feet, as a protest against them (Lk 10:10-12), because they are not rejecting anything new but rather their past.
c) They should cure the sick and drive out the devils (Lk 9:1; 10:9; Mt 10:8). That is, they should carry out the function of “defenders” (goêl) and accept in the clan, in the community, the excluded. With this attitude they criticize the situation of disintegration of community life of the clan and they indicate concrete openings. The expulsion of the devils is a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Lk 11:20).
d) They should eat what the people give them (Lk 10:8). They could not live separated having their own food, but they should accept the communion with others, eat with others. That means that in the contact with the people, they should not be afraid of losing the purity as it had been taught to them. With this attitude they criticize the laws of purity which were in force and indicate, by means of the new practice, that they possess another access to purity, that is, intimacy with God.
These were the four fundamental points of community living which should characterize the attitude of the missionaries who announce the Good News in the name of Jesus: hospitality, sharing, communion and acceptance of the excluded (defender, goêl). If there is a response to these four requirements, then it is possible to cry out all over to the four corners of the world: “The Kingdom has arrived!” (cf. Lk 10:1-12; 9:1-6; Mk 6:7-13; Mt 10:6-16). And the Kingdom of God which Jesus has revealed to us is not a doctrine, nor a catechism, nor a law. The Kingdom of God comes and becomes present when persons, motivated by their faith in Jesus, decide to live together in community to give witness and to reveal, in this way, to all, that God is Father and Mother and that we, the human beings, are brothers and sisters. Jesus wanted the local community to be a new expression of the Covenant of the Kingdom, of the love of God the Father, who makes us all brothers and sisters.
4) Personal questions
• Has participation in the community helped you to accept and to trust persons, especially the simpler and poorer?
• Which is the point of the mission of the Apostles which for us today has greater importance? Why?
5) Concluding Prayer
Lord, set me free from taunts and contempt
since I observe Your instructions.
Though princes sit plotting against me,
Your servant keeps pondering Your will. (Ps 119:22-23)