Luke has Jesus always heading for Jerusalem in his gospel and today we hear how the prophet Isaiah remind us that as a mother comforts her child, I will comfort you, in Jerusalem. He is speaking of Israel returning to Jerusalem after seventy years of exile but it can also mean for us the comfort, the care that God will give us in the New Jerusalem, which is Heaven. It is good to think of where we are going especially as we age and what God will say to us, and what we will say to him at that moment.
Jesus sends the seventy-two disciples out to prepare the towns he intends to visit (Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20) and this is shortly after he sent his Twelve to announce the gospel. It was not just the Apostles who are sent but disciples like you and me. They are sent by him and before him to prepare the way; he will follow after them. You can say that the same is true for us. Christ will come after those we have talked to and who received a Good News from you and from me. You can open the way for someone to meet Christ. What could be greater than that? There are dangers involved but this is true in every good work we do in life.
Jesus says something very shocking at the beginning of the gospel. He says, “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few.” In other words he is saying: do you see what I see or are you just worried about your own affairs. Don’t you see this huge amount of people who need a word of hope from you? Or are you just too busy, too wrapped up in yourself? Christ sees the distress of many and he has hopes for them higher than we can imagine.
“Pray that the Master of the Harvest will send out workers for his harvest.” Wow, is he speaking to me? Pray for the workers or perhaps he meant: pray that you yourselves will be turned into workers to be sent to gather this harvest. How many are needed in this parish? Maybe just one or ten, but pray that God send them or that you and I become one of them. If we really pray for this how could God refuse us? He would see that we want to become like him. That we have the same passion for souls that he has. It is true that in some way we have the mind of God; he is in us and we are in him. We can bear fruit.
It is true that as Christians we don’t have anything. This is why we pray the Our Father with our hands open (as they did in the first centuries) since all that we have comes from God. These disciples went out with nothing. Why did Christ send them out this way? I think so that the people they visited could see it was God who sent them. He disarmed the disciples. We visit those in need not because we have it all together, but that somehow people might see Christ in us. This was what Mother Theresa did and what her nuns are doing today. They are not looking to cure social ills, but to show others the compassion of Christ, by a visit, or a helping hand, or a ride to church.
Let your peace descend upon one who is open to receive it. Your peace will abide in him, in the one who opens his heart to you. It is the Lord who creates communion among two people, not us. A new cell of the Body of Christ is born if the person receives the peace that a disciple brings. Christ is their peace; it is whom they receive if they open themselves to the one who comes.
Lastly, the Jews would shake the dust off their feet when they came back from a pagan land. However, Jesus establishes a new criterion. It does not matter where a person lives or is from, but if the person opens his heart to the Word of God. If he or she doesn’t receive it, then shake the dust off your feet. Do you have an open heart when you come to worship God on the weekend? Are you open to receive something from him today and every week? Pray that he may send workers to gather the harvest and that one of them might be you!