Reflection for Thursday October 18, 2018: St. Luke, Evangelist

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Hamm, Dennis, S.J.
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Luke is, par excellence, the evangelist of mission. All four Gospels, of course, portray the mission of the Church, each in their own way, but Luke is the only one who gives us narrative images of the early Church on mission, especially that of Saul/Paul, whose networking is reflected in the first reading 2 Timothy. Luke gives us a whole second volume, the Acts of Apostles, portraying the early unfolding of that post-Easter expansion of the Christian movement. What Luke portrays in Acts he anticipates in his gospel. For example, he tells not just one but two stories of Jesus sending envoys on mission. In chapter 9, Jesus sends the Twelve out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick, doing what their master did. But then he surprises his readers by telling of a second group, seventy-two people simply called "others," whom Luke says Jesus "sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intendedto visit." If the number 12 was significant (representing the 12-tribe restored people of Israel), is there a biblical meaning for 72? Yes. In Genesis 1-11, 72 is the number of all the nations descended from Noah, that is--everybody in the world! So Luke's mention of 72 "others" represents those who carry out the post-Easter extension of Jesus' mission to everyone. If we identify ourselves as followers of Jesus, there is a message for us in this passage. Let's listen.|The work of the 72, including us, is preparatory. Jesus does the real work of 'visiting' everyone. This may be puzzling, until we discover in the Acts of Apostles that the work of Paul and company is understood as the work of the risen Lord working through the Holy Spirit animating the Christian movement (see Acts 26). So the mission is not so much about us as about the work of Jesus, through the likes of us, for the rest of the world.|Ultimately, the Master of the harvest is God the Father. That is, the mission of Jesus fulfills the mission of Israel from the beginning of Israel's story starting with Abraham. Message for the 72, including us: this Christian mission is really about God's ancient plan for the redemption of the world, for which we are invited to collaborate.|Even though we are being sent "like lambs among wolves," we are being sent defenseless. No money bag, no sack (holding food for the road), no sandals (necessary for fight or flight on rocky roads)! Total dependence on the hospitality of towns and individual families, with some rejection assured. This requires dependence on divine accompaniment moving human hearts to host vulnerable (surely nonviolent) travelers. What unifies people more than recognizing common need? And what alienates quicker than failure to close one's eyes and heart to that mutual interdependence. That suggests that our mission is usually done in the context of our more intimate contact with fellow human being who recognize our common humanity—or not.|Whatever our situation, class, lifestyle, our mission will be contribute to the "harvest" to the extent that we "travel light."|Don't boast about your exercise of God-given power; rejoice that you have been called to participate in God's mission of mercy. A few lines beyond today's gospel reading (Luke 10:17-20) Luke says that the seventy-two "returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." Jesus says, in effect, 'Rejoice because you have been chosen for mission.'  Thank God for Luke's special way of helping us get some perspective on our role.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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