|14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 3 July 2016|
From the Dean’s desk
Last Sunday’s Gospel [Luke 9:51-62] concerned the conditions of discipleship – what is required of the person who wishes to follow in the ways of Jesus. In today’s Gospel Jesus sternly states that those who wish to be considered as his followers need to make the following of his ways a priority, to ensure that this commitment remains deep and alive. As experience shows us most of us wax and wane with regard to our commitment to following Christ. At times our commitment is one hundred percent. At other times it maybe a little less intense and noticeable. What Jesus requires of us is a resolute commitment to never let go of the importance of following in his footsteps.
Today’s Gospel [Luke 10:1-12.17-20] picks up again the topic of discipleship. One can imagine the feelings of elation as Jesus appoints and sends in his name seventy-two disciples to visit the towns he wishes to enter and to carry out his works. His instructions are quite to the point: they are not to overload themselves with elements that may deter them from their primary task – to preach the presence of the Kingdom of God. They are to rely on the goodness and generosity of the townspeople for their lodgings and upkeep. These disciples come back rejoicing and elated because everything that Jesus said would happen to them did indeed occur – the very spirits and demons submitted to them when they used the name of Jesus.
Here Jesus begins to teach them a major lesson about discipleship. The disciple should not rest on his or her merits in ministry, but should be able to recognise that what is achieved is done so through the grace of God working in and through them. Any other notion may lead to a sense of pride and over confidence in one’s own abilities.
When we are sent out into the mission by the Lord, we are indeed asked to do his work, after his manner and for the sake of the Kingdom of God, not our own kingdom! As such our being disciples requires of us the knowledge that what we possess, what we achieve, what we do comes from Jesus: he is the source of our power. This sentiment is echoed by Paul in his letter to the Galatians as he writes: ‘The only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’. [Galatians 6:14]. The living out of this statement is the key to the type of humility that is asked of any disciples of Jesus. We need to realise that any good that we are able to achieve through our ministry occurs first and foremost through our cooperation with the Grace of God. If we lose sight of this then we begin to preach our own message, not Christ’s, we build up our own kingdoms, not God’s.
We may feel in our apostolate at times that we are like lambs among wolves – that the task is all too much for us to bear. This is all the more reason for us to nurture the true humility that comes from the realisation that Jesus is at the centre of our apostolic endeavours. It is essential then for us to focus through prayer and contemplation, on the presence and grace of God within us. God in turn will allot to us what is required for us to bring the Good News into our world – and to be Good News in our world.