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This Sunday’s Gospel tells us about Jesus appointing the 72 others and then sending them out in pairs to the towns he was going to visit. As he gives his missionary instruction Jesus seems under no illusion about the territory compared to the wolves roaming around, his own crowds are like lambs. He tells the 72 to lead the radical lifestyle of the wandering preacher who must face homelessness and renunciation of family and property. When they enter a house they should bless it with peace. The Gospel also tells us about the practical things to direct the seventy-two as they proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and in rebuilding community life. Jesus told them to carry no purse, no haversack, and no sandals. Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and rebuilding community life are two sides of the same coin. One does not exist and cannot make sense without the other.  When Jesus sends out the seventy-two you might wonder how ready they are for the demanding task ahead of them. Because he doesn’t have all the time in the world Jesus depends on the various talents of his followers; he must depend on their understanding and their resolve to get it right.

Perhaps if we were in charge of that first Missionary outing the seventy-two would still be waiting to get going! There is a clear urgency about the task in hand Jesus says, “Start off now” with urgency in his voice. On their return the disciples were delighted that their mission has actually worked! Their joy demonstrates that people do welcome the word of God and that the word of God is their real resource for mission. Jesus counsels them to rejoice not because their mission has worked but because their names are written in heaven. These words at the end of today’s gospel are addressed to each one of us. Jesus empowers us in our day to do his work, and to work in his name. Jesus assures us that we have a passport, visa, and “green card” for heaven. Our names are already registered there and our mission is to proclaim the good news of salvation to others.


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