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No Ordinary Mission
Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, here I am. Show me your face; show me your love for me. I know that without you I am nothing, and yet you want to give me everything. I want to love you—teach me how. Lord, increase my faith to see the world the way you see it.
- Christ Sent Them Ahead: Christ was God and needed nobody to help him in his mission. Yet he sent those seventy-two disciples to prepare the towns for his coming even though they were not particularly well-formed or charismatic. Here Christ was acting like a father who, building furniture or fixing something around the house, invites his young son to help. The son cannot yet do much; in fact, the father could probably do it more quickly on his own. Still, the father’s love for his child makes him want his child to share in the work he loves doing. We are privileged to take part in Christ’s mission to advance the kingdom of God.
- Sent among Wolves: Christ was honest with his disciples; their mission was not going to be easy. Christ had been teaching them how difficult was the path he followed—“Take up your cross and follow me,” “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,” and “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God”—but up to now the disciples had not really experienced difficulty in the mission. Instead, they had been awed by the string of miracles Christ performed in their presence. As they got ready to go out, he reminded them that, while there would be success, many times they would feel like helpless lambs in the midst of wolves. So it can be with us—the culture he calls us to change will not convert without a fight. We experience the struggle, but armed with the power of God, we engage with people, full of hope that our effort to spread Christ’s love will conquer all.
- Take Nothing: No one goes on a journey without money and some spare clothes, yet Christ asked his disciples to leave these things behind and go “like lambs among wolves.” How often do we think we know what we need to evangelize? How often do we try to do God’s work as we would do an ordinary job? Christ is reminding his apostles and us that the work of bringing souls back to him is not like any other mission. The tools of evangelization are faith, hope, and love, not money and clothes. Sometimes Christ will ask us to use those material things, but sometimes he will not. When he sends us to help bring others to him without the instruments, programs, and materials we think we need, how do we respond?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, thank you for taking the time to be with me, speak with me, and pour your grace into my heart. Thank you for the mission you have given me, even though sometimes it is difficult. I want to serve you ever more faithfully. Lead me today—I’m ready to follow.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of faith when I feel the mission is difficult.
For Further Reflection: It may be dense, but the Vatican II document Apostolicam Actuositatem has some beautiful reflections on the apostolate of the laity.
Written by Brother Riley Connor.