FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
THE MISSION OF DISCIPLES
October 18, 2011
Today’s reading: Luke 10:1-9
The holy Roman Catholic Church is a missionary Church. She exists to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus to the whole world. All Christians, who are disciples of Jesus, are supposed to be missionaries too, to follow in the footsteps on the seventy-two whom Jesus appointed and sent to every town and place (Lk 10:1).
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus instructs his disciples about mission work, citing several principles that all of us ought to be aware of.
First, “the harvest is abundant” (Lk 10:2a). Jesus already won salvation on the cross. He already crushed the head of the serpent. He has accomplished the work given Him by the Father, to make it possible for His children to be brought back to Himself. He acted according to the very plan of God. Thus everything has been accomplished by God. God desires that all men be saved. The harvest is waiting to be reaped and is abundant.
However, “the laborers are few” (Lk 10:2b). Few Christians are truly aware that they are to be evangelizers and missionaries. Most are preoccupied by the things of the world, and are not active combatants in the spiritual war that is raging all around. This is unfortunate, since God has made Himself dependent upon His people to accomplish His plan. We need to evangelize. If we do not, then even if the harvest is potentially rich, many would continue to be lost and remain under the dominion of sin and Satan.
Thus our constant prayer should be to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Lk 10:2c). We of course need to be the first into the harvest field. There we become painfully aware of the need for more workers. And so we pray, while also acting to bring in those workers. We evangelize, and those evangelized are turned into evangelizers themselves. We have a sense of urgency. We work on rapid and massive evangelization.
Second, Jesus warns us about what we are to expect. “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” (Lk 10:3). Lambs among wolves? That can become a slaughter! Indeed, but that is only following on the footsteps of the Master, who himself became the sacrificial lamb. When we die for the cause of Christ, we produce much fruit, as mission is propelled by the blood of the martyrs. When we die to ourselves for God’s mission, we become effective instruments.
Our enemy is powerful and strong. On our own we cannot defeat him. This is why we need the very strength of God. This is why we need to be intimately connected with the One who already won the victory.
Third, Jesus says, “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals” (Lk 10:4a). We are to be totally dependent on God for our provisions. But also, we ought not to be attached to material possessions, as these detract from our taking on the challenging task of mission. In Mark, Jesus allows the apostles to wear sandals (Mk 6:9). Thus what Jesus has stated is a principle, while what we actually use will depend on the circumstances of our particular mission.
Further Jesus says, “and greet no one along the way.” (Lk 10:4b). The mission is urgent and there is no time to be lost, especially in pleasantries. We need to be single-minded about fulfilling our task.
Fourth, Jesus gives instructions about entering into houses. When we enter, we first say “Peace to this household.” (Lk 10:5). We are agents of the Prince of Peace. We are peacemakers. We bring the peace of Christ into homes and the lives of families. What we say is not just a casual greeting or mindless salutation, but is an effective word, proclaiming our very nature and mission.
Then we are to “stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to (us)” (Lk 10:7a). We are to freely enjoy the hospitality of others, as God calls them to provide such hospitality, as their way of supporting missionaries, for “the laborer deserves his payment” (Lk 10:7b). We are to be grateful for what they provide, enjoying the food inherent in a particular place and culture. By our action, we allow them to become part of our missionary work.
Finally, we are to “cure the sick” (Lk 10:9a) as we become agents of healing–physical, emotional, spiritual.
We say to all, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you.” (Lk 10:9b). Evangelizers are agents of God’s salvation. Acceptance of such salvation is entry into the Kingdom of God in our midst.
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