HOMILY 14° ORDINARY SUNDAY (C)
The appointments, the new parishes give rise to many reflections on the reduction in the number of priests and their aging… All of us can see the relevance of what Jesus said: “The harvest is abundant and the workers are few. master of the harvest..."
But the workers of the harvest are not only the priests. Even if the priests were numerous enough, they would not have the exclusivity of the mission. They cannot in any case deprive the baptized of their responsibility with regard to the mission: each Christian is, in his own way, according to his gifts, a witness to the gospel.
In the Gospel episode we have just heard, Luke describes the sending on mission of a group of disciples larger than the apostles. The mission is not reserved only for the apostles. And the number, seventy-two, in biblical symbolism, indicates universality (72 is the number of countries known at the time). Therefore seventy-two disciples (in other words all) are sent, so that all men have the chance to hear the Good News. We are the harvest workers.
How does Luke talk about mission? What advice does he give?...
First of all, to announce salvation in Jesus Christ to men, there is no need to carry around money, bags or sandals. You have to travel light. In other words, no need for tricks. It's not about having, it's about being... and being free. Science or eloquence, for example, is good, it can be useful, but the important thing is not to have the attributes of a missionary, it is to be a missionary, that is to to say: one must first live oneself as a citizen of the Kingdom. Example is always the most convincing word.
However, will the testimony be received? Big question... The mission does not always work... It is possible that the messenger will not be welcomed as is the case with the village of Samaritans... God took the risk of creating the free man, and he likes it free. Free to hear; also free to refuse. The gospel is a path to happiness, but that path runs through barren lands; he goes through the cross. Some turn back. We cannot be surprised. The witness to the gospel does not always see the fruits of his mission. He is more accustomed to arousing indifference, even mockery or hostility. As you well know, the word of the Catholic Church is often derided. Jesus had warned. The disciple is not greater than the master.
But this does not discourage the disciple on the road to the mission, on the contrary! He knows that the Kingdom of God is very near and that it can be recognized by its fruits of peace, joy and love.
Peace and joy are indeed the signs of the reign of God. They are signs of the presence of the risen Christ. “Peace be with you”, is this not the first word of the risen Christ to his disciples? This is also Jesus' recommendation to the disciples whom he sends on mission: "In every house you enter, first say: Peace to this house!"
Everyone who is baptized is called to be a messenger of peace. And being a messenger of peace requires that we ourselves be pacified and happy to live. How can we bring peace if aggressiveness and violence show through in our gaze and on our face? How can we invite joy if our gaze and our face are hard, closed and tense? O of course it is not a question of a blissful, overrated joy or a fabricated, artificial smile... It is a question of a peace and a joy drawn from the most intimate of ourselves, there where our relationship with this God is woven, our God who loves us and wants our happiness. Yes, a joy and a peace that come to us from the tenderness of God for us and for all men, as the prophet Isaiah reminded us in the 1st reading: "You will be like infants that you carry on your arms, that you caress on your knees... You will see it and your heart will rejoice”. To be a missionary is to be inhabited by this tenderness of God and to want to communicate it.
Throughout the year we are taken up by our work, our worries. We go, we run. It is difficult for us to have time for ourselves, for our family. The time of vacation, to come for some, let us welcome it as a time of rest, of peace, as a favorable time to recover health, including spiritual health, to renew the threads of the relationship with God... So pacified we can be “pacifying”; we can be messengers of the Good News, witnesses of the Tenderness and Peace that come from God...