14th Sunday of Ordinary time
When we think of Jesus preaching we think of people flocking to hear him, But in today’s gospel we hear of people being sent out from Jesus to prepare his way before him. We also think of John the Baptist who went to prepare a way for the lord making his paths straight so that all of us can see the salvation of the Lord. We gather as Christians in the here and now of our daily lives in 2013 as we remember that we are also the people that Jesus has charged to prepare his way in the world today by the living of our faith in every situation we find ourselves. To be a disciple is not only to follow, but to go ahead of the Lord announcing his presence. with this in mind this weekend we reflect on these twin aspects of being Christians: following the Lord, and presenting the Lord to the world through what we do and in what we say. We are called not only to be ‘disciples’ but ‘apostles’. But there is a constant danger: we often think that ‘the apostolic life’ is something that we can delegate to a few specialists: full time ‘apostles’ or ‘missionaries in foreign lands’ or those who live ‘the religious life’. Every individual and that includes you and I are called in a specific way to spread the word and to bring the presence of Christ into the world where we are remembering that only a few people are called to do so in a ‘high profile’ way. We are called to be apostles by our baptism; we cannot delegate the responsibility. Rather we must search out the precise way that each of us is called to be an apostle – whether it is high or low profile – and how we each can make ourselves better fitted to the precise place and moment in the history of salvation where we are called to be the rippling presence of God.
There are a number of things that are striking in the gospel story for this Sunday: one is the simple urgency of the task of proclaiming the message. Some will accept it, others will not, but their rejection of the message should not be on account of any failing on the part of the messengers. It is encouraging to listen to the enthusiasm of the disciples when they returned. They rejoice on their return because they know that are participating in the ultimate struggle of good over evil. In sharing their joy, however, Jesus reminds them that it is not about them but about God working through them and that should be the source of their joy. It is a call to humility. They had obeyed Jesus, and it worked. His promise to them was vindicated. They discovered that the call to mission contained the power to effect that mission. Jesus went even further in assuring them that he had given them full authority over all the power of the evil one, and that their names were registered as citizens of heaven.
The words at the end of this Sundays gospel are addressed to each and every one of us. Jesus does give us his power we are empowered to do his work, and to work in his name. We have the power if we are willing to supply the goodwill. Community support is essential to living the gospel. Even a hermit has to be commissioned by a Christian Community, and must continue to be in touch with that group.
Today Jesus, present among us , continues to call us, send us, and empower us. Perhaps this coming week, in our quiet times, when we have the opportunity to reflect, or even to pray, it might be good to consider what task, seemingly beyond of strength or talents, our comfort zone, God wants us to take on and embrace, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, who has lived within us, often unrecognized, since the day we were adopted by God in Baptism. We remember the words of Jesus in the Gospel for this Sunday‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. May the door of faith open wide for us as we continue our journey of faith together.