Meditation of the week

A tract on evangelisation

Luke 10,1-12; 17-20.

As Jesus set his face resolutely for Jerusalem, he sent messengers before him to prepare the way for him. Here he appoints seventy-two disciple missionaries to go out ahead of him in pairs, showing an example of mutual caring and witness to the kingdom. The seventy-two parallel for Luke the seventy elders Moses chose to help himself and Aaron in managing the people of Israel (Num. 11,16-25). Reminding them how great the harvest is and how few the labourers are, Jesus asks them, first of all, to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers to his harvest. Comparing them to lambs among wolves reminds them that they will meet strong opposition.

They are to travel light, without purse, haversack or sandals. They are to avoid elaborate time-wasting- greeting of individuals on the way and wish peace to homes where they are made welcome. They are to stay in homes where they are made welcome and eat the food they are offered. Moving from house to house is a time-wasting exercise to be avoided.

They are to behave likewise in towns where they are made welcome. They are to cure the sick and preach that the kingdom is near. In towns where they are not welcomed they are to shake off the dust from their feet, a gesture of rebuke, and move on. Cities which will reject the gospel can expect a fate worse than that of Sodom.

The seventy-two returned rejoicing at their successes and surprised that even demons obeyed them when they spoke with the authority of Jesus’ name. Seeing Satan falling from heaven is an allusion to the expulsion of Satan from heaven (Is.14,12). Jesus refers to the authority which he has given to his disciples over demons and spirits in general. However, the only true reason for rejoicing is because their names are enrolled in heaven, written in the book of life. Each individual’s salvation is what really matters, when all is said and done.

Today’s gospel is a little tract on evangelisation. Jesus’ emphasis to the seventy-two disciples, about to begin their mission, is much more about lifestyle than content of preaching. Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi states “that people today listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” Authentic example is more convincing than words.

Prayer is an intrinsic element of evangelization. It is the first step mentioned in the commissioning of the seventy-two disciples. It disposes the evangelisers and the evangelised to recognise that evangelization is primarily God’s project and not theirs. When did you last pray for vocations to the priesthood, the consecrated life, and the lay apostolate?

Each of us can evangelize wherever we are by taking the opportunities given to us in conversations and discussions with others to answer questions about faith or to steer a line of thought towards the subject of God, faith etc. St Paul tells us to speak the truth in love and do it “agreeably with a flavour of wit.” Col. 4,6.

If someone were to ask you to tell them why you are a Christian, or what the main truths of the Christian/Catholic faith are, could you do it briefly and cogently? It would be great if every Catholic/Christian could. It could make all the difference for the questioner.

Fr Geoff O’Grady